When you were raised in the 1940’s and it war wartime, there were things you learned that you could not change as it was the just the way it was
I lived on a street in Eastview Ontario (now part of Ottawa) on a quiet little street. Across the street was a field and the railway tracks were on the other side of that. There were eight families on this street. As kids we all played together and you soon learned who was in charge and sort of in charge of street games like Red Rover and Hide and Seek. We also played baseball in the Summer and Hockey in the winter on the street. You would see little traffic on the street as some of the men were away fighting in the war or you just did not have a car.
For your baseball game you picked out various articles as your bases, for example the old fire hydrant was third base, a stone on the street was 2nd base, a tree on the side of the road was first. This worked well as there was little to worry about, for they were just there. Grandpa did offer to make us bases but no one wanted the responsibility of picking up the bases when the game was over. For Hockey in Winter time your puck was mostly the droppings from the bread man or the milk man’s horse. One soon learned you wanted colder weather as the pucks stayed frozen in the cold, and that was important, after all no one wanted to be sprayed with horse droppings.
Out of eight families, three Dad’s were in the Army and away at war in Europe, my Dad was not accepted to the armed forces and my Grandpa was to old to join the army, although some of his sons, my Uncles, did go to war. Thank Goodness for Grandpas as he repaired all broken things and did give advice or correct if needed. He was kind of the one you went to if you needed some advice.
On our street money was not always to plentiful and we soon learned that our families did rely on each other for items and Mom might just run out when making a meal. You were never embarrassed to go to your friend’s mother for an item your Mom might need for a recipe. In fact there were times when my Mom would make a desert for all, and the next door neighbour would have the makings of a lunch, so the name of the game was sharing your goods. By the end of the war they were expert at pooling their resources, and no one ever went hungry and there were leftovers that could be the starter for the next meal.
During the war time there were Ration Books which dictated what was available to you and your allotment. Now living on a street where one family kind of overlooked looking after one another, and sharing was most prevalent. We had no car so the gasoline coupons were up grab, and trading was the name of the game, part of the bartering system.
It seems to me the war effort was in force and knitting needles were always handy to make something to send to a loved one overseas. I was taught knitting at a young age and soon was making scarves to send to the Red Cross., to go overseas.
School time was a good time and one did not think of things like war, or whose Dad was away. We participated in school activities and our learning. I cannot say that I ever hesitated going to school as I did enjoy the teachers the social time with friends. We lived close enough that we walked to school with our friends who lived on the same street and it was always enjoyable to be able to wave to our neighbours who lived on adjoining streets on the way to school. In so many ways I do think the older folk did enjoy the children and their laughter, not really a care in the world. The funniest thing was you might be eating an apple on you way back to school from lunch and it was nothing for one of your neighbours to say, now don’t throw that core on the street, make sure you put it in the garbage. As children we did not take exception to this friendly reminder.
Things seemed to be more friendly and people did help and look after each other. It was close to Halloween and there was going to be a get together and a party. As a child I was used to my Mom making fudge for special occasions at school. Well when we all arrived home from school, the Mothers were talking at the front door. I have to admit adults were so smart and in tune to the season and what was happening. Well noisy children coming home announcing was not new to these Moms, Mom we need some fudge for the party. With the ration books and the allotment of sugar, this I can remember being told “I don’t know if we have enough coupons for sugar”, we had the attention of all three Mom’s and there was Grandma and my Mom’s Aunt, and friend Joan, had a grandmother who lived on the street as well. In order for the kids to get their treat for the party, they had to round up coupons from who we could. We pooled our resources and we were just a tad bit short to make enough for three families. My older friend and neighbour up the street, Mrs. Pauquette, I could ask her. I sometimes dusted for her if I was saving for something I wanted. Up the street I went and sure enough she had some extra coupons as they were older and had no children and did not use the same amount as a family with children.
I have to say the next day when we came home for lunch, the fudge had been made, cut into squares and divided into three boxes. We all had our contribution to the party, thanks to the co-operation of family, friends and neighbours. We were all set until Christmas now, that is when the next school celebration would take place.
For some this was not good memories, but the comradeship with your neighbours and family certainly did help. As we take time out to remember on November the 11th, just remember those who did not return.
From the ✒
This recipe makes about 5 pounds of decadent fudge.
- 1 tall can (11 oz) Carnation Evaporated Milk
- 4 1/2 cup white sugar
- 18 oz Nestles or Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips (three small bags)
- 1/2 pound butter
- 3 tablespoons vanilla
- Nuts, if desired (we’ve added crushed up candy canes on top of the fudge, stuff like that is tasty too!).
Put chocolate chips, butter and vanilla in large mixing bowl, set aside.
Bring milk and sugar to a rolling boil on medium heat in a large pan, stirring occasionally. When it reaches a rolling boil, time it for 6 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Note: Amy suggested a temperature of 248F/120C on a candy thermometer but I needed to cook the fudge for double the time to get it there. Instead, I stopped cooking when flecks of caramelization started showing in the milk–about ten minutes, 225F. I wonder if the difference in altitude between her place and mine is a factor?
Pour the milk and sugar syrup mixture over the contents of the mixing bowl. Stir constantly until butter is completely melted, and the fudge is smooth and isn’t shiny. Add nuts if desired.
A 9×12 baking dish will hold the whole batch (either butter the dish or line with parchment paper first). Or, pour into smaller containers to share.