Memories of this time come flooding back like the flavour from Tetley's tea! There was the pie scheme, a system arranged to augment the meagre rations of many manual workers. Pork pies were produced at the behest of the Ministry of Food and were locally distributed by Mrs "Tilly" Saberton. I thik they contained cats and pepper but wre much looked forward to. I can remember queueing up for my father's weekly pie and eating a lump of it when I got home.
As the war progressed and things started looking brighter a fund was started known as the Homecoming Fund designed to give the village servicemen on their return from hostilities a present of money in appreciation of their services to the country. Whist drives and dances were held in the school, sports were organised in Stockfield's field and incorporated into the event was the auction of a donkey. The donkey usually fetched about £5 but was immediately give back to be sold again. Quite often it was sold several times. Garden fêtes helped to swell the fund and at these Bert Sykes was the auctioneer. Sugar which was in very short supply was sold for £1 per pound and I have seen a pound of gooseberries make a pound. Bert called them bearded grapes to try to get the price up.
It was at this time that pig-clubs were formed. Since the war had started, many people had taken to keeping a pig in a make-shift sty at the bottom of the garden to augment the meagre meat ration (our ration for three people cost 5 1/2 pence). Meat was about a bob a pound then, so it is not surprising that people kept a pig. By becoming a member of a recognised pig-club, a small amount of meal was available-I think it was about a stone a month. Not much but to a pig that had nothing to look forward to except leftovers and anything that could be scrounged the day the meal arrived was like a birthday. If you've never seen a pig simile you should have been here then.
When the pig reached about fifteen stones the butcher came and converted it into pork. It was a busy day, was pig killing day. I will not mention the more gory details as the squeamish could well be put off pork for life! There was pork everywhere, great joints of it with fat about two inches thick on every joint, sometimes this was cut off to be rendered down in the oven to make lard. The "crackling" that remained was eagerly eaten with pickles. With no deep freezers available then the pork had to be salted to keep for later use. The joints were put into large stone pots and covered with brine. Six months later my father would retrieve a lump from the pot. I can see it now and almost have at the the thought of it. I found it the most satisfying meat available-it satisfied me for life, I've never eaten any more. Sometimes we sent away a ham to be smoked this was a different thing altogether, I could eat a pound of this now.
Food rationing did not hit country folk as it hit the town folk, in the country, food was readily available, rabbits abounded and a chicken only needed its neck wringing and its feathers and guts removing to assure one of an instant meal. Vegetables were there for the taking; almost everyone had a large garden a that time. One old chap of some seventy years, fat as a hog, said to his nephew, while threshing, " Oi never thought it would come to this, Len boor, bloody well starved to death!" The only thing we missed really was sugar, which was a bit ironic as the sugar beet factor was producing tons of the stuff. I have seen my grandma put a boiled sweet in her tea to sweeten it-heaven alone knows what it tasted like, on reflection it could have been here invented "instant coffee".
It was in the war-time that onions were grown as a commercial crop, previous to this they were imported from Spain and elsewhere, cheaper than they could be produced here. What was once a garden venture became a source of income to the many small farmers of the parish. Grown under the auspices of the Ministry of Food, onions wer worth £25 pounds per ton. A few people grew them and reaped a rich reward. Crops of ten tons per acre were recorded and soon surpassed-onions were the "in thing".