A WWII school day
By Keith Gibson
I knew it had been a cold night, as my 6 year old bare feet met the icy linoleum floor and I could see my breath, that November day in 1942. I grabbed my clothes and headed for the living room. It was the only room that had a rug. Wall to wall carpeting had not yet, arrived in McGill.
I dressed in front of the warm coal stove, then moved on to the bathroom and did a quick wash up in cold water. The kitchen stove had not been fired up long enough to heat any water. Between the cold floor and the cold water, I was fully awake.
Mom had some hot Cream of Wheat cereal and homemade bread toast covered with elderberry jam on the table. A cup of hot Hershey’s cocoa was the final item. Then it was back to the bedroom, take out the red rubber hot water bag beneath the covers. It warmed the bed for a few minutes, but then it was cold the rest of the night.
This bag also served as an early form of immunity from most forms of sickness. Whenever a kid complained of being sick, the bag was filled with warm soapy (Ivory) water and an enema was administered. We seldom got sick.
Next stop was the bathroom sink to brush my teeth with that old favorite, Ipana. The tube was almost empty and took a lot of squeezing to get enough to do the job. I took the empty tube to Mom along with my government issued ration book. You had to turn in an old tube to get a new one. Mom needed my ration book to get some meat and sugar that day.
It was wartime and most items were rationed. I grabbed my lunch and headed for the schoolhouse.
There was a rumor that today was another silk/nylon stocking day. We kids would get an extra, long recess while the teachers went downtown to stand in line at the Kennecott Copper Corporation (KCC) commissary store for a chance to get a pair of stockings.
A lot of the women used to cover their legs with light rouge and then paint a dark line up the back of the leg to simulate silk stockings. We, boys, never understood that, but it meant a long recess and other than that, who cares?