1942 – War Rationing Hits Iowa City.

On Monday, December 8, 1941 – one day after the Japanese Air Force attacked our U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor – the United States entered World War II. Over the next four years, America tightened her belt and every U.S. citizen did everything in their power to win the war. Today, we call these Americans – The Greatest Generation.

(C-0241) Everybody in America joined the War Effort – even Uncle Sam.

World War II not only interrupted the lives of over 10 million American men who were inducted into the military, it also caused severe shortages of all sorts of things back home: rubber, metal, clothing, gasoline, and maybe the most precious item of all – food.

During the War (1942-1945), food was in short supply for a variety of reasons. Much of the processed and canned foods produced in America’s Heartland was reserved for shipping overseas to our military, while transportation of fresh foods was limited because of gasoline and tire rationing. Across the U.S., the priority became supporting our soldiers, so production and transportation of war supplies took priority over all other things. And with some food supplies such as imported coffee and sugar, extreme rationing was the only option.

Because of these supply shortages, the U.S. government’s Office of Price Administration established a system of rationing that would more fairly distribute foods that were in short supply. Every American – regardless of age – was issued a series of Ration Books during the war. These books contained removable stamps good for certain rationed items, like sugar, meat, cooking oil, and canned goods. A person could not buy a rationed item without also giving the grocer the right ration stamp. Once a person’s ration stamps were used up for a month, he/she couldn’t buy any more of that type of food. This meant planning meals carefully, being creative with menus, and not wasting food. More than 8,000 ration boards across the country administered this War Ration program.

Clement A. Boyle was born in Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County on July 9, 1895, and served as a private in the U.S. Medical Department during World War I. In 1928, at age 33, Clement married Marie E. Phillips who was born in Cedar Township of Johnson County on December 3, 1900. By 1940, Clement had moved his family to 229 South Johnson Street (see map below) and was working for the IRS as a supervisor in the U.S. Bureau of Census – a job he held until retiring in 1959.

In the 1940 U.S. Census, we find Clement (age 44) and Marie (age 39) Boyle with their five children – Marilyn J. (age 9), John P. (age 8), Daniel W. (age 6), Richard J. (age 4), and Catherine M. (age 1). When the war broke out on December 8, 1941, Clement – like most men across America – had to file for the draft (see Clement’s draft card below), but being age 46 in December of 1941 and a veteran from WWI, Boyle and his immediate family didn’t have anyone called into combat.

But, like all Americans during the War, the Boyle’s were asked to do everything in their power to help with the war effort – which, as we mentioned earlier – included war rationing. In Our Iowa Heritage collection, we have three War Ration Books – #2, #3, and #4 – issued to the Boyle’s youngest son – Richard J., who was 7 years old in 1942. Apparently, each family member was given a packet of war rationing stamps, and below are some pics of Richard’s three books – which probably lasted him all the way to the war’s end in 1945.

(L-0120-a) Above is the War Ration Book Two for Richard Boyle of 229 S. Johnson Street in Iowa City. Below are the instructions given to all Americans for using Book Two…
Let’s take a closer look at some WWII Ration Books. You’ll notice that they change slightly throughout the war. This magazine ad (above) explains how ration books were to be used, but in all honesty, it could get a bit complicated. As a matter of fact, when a Gallup Poll on March 5, 1943, asked Americans, Do you understand how the food point rationing system works?, only 53% of men answered “Yes”; while 76% of women answered “Yes“!
(L-0120-b) Above is Richard Boyle’s War Ration Book No. 3, and below – (L-0120-c) is his War Ration Book Four.
Notice the stern warnings issued on these booklets – Rationing is a vital part of your country’s war effort. This book is your Government’s guarantee of your fair share of goods made scarce by war, to which the stamps contained herein will be assigned as the need arises. Any attempt to violate the rules is an effort to deny someone his share and will create hardship and discontent. Such action, like treason, helps the enemy. Give your whole support to rationing and thereby conserve our vital goods. Be guided by the rule: If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT.”

Below, an ad in a British magazine states… Better Pot-Luck with Churchill today than Humble Pie under Hitler tomorrow. Don’t Waste Food!

As you know, the Allies won the war – with everything ending in September 1945. A quick check of the Boyle family in the 1950 U.S. Census shows Clem and Marie still living at 229 South Johnson in Iowa City with Marilyn – now age 19, John (18), Daniel (16), Richard (14), and Katherine (now spelled with a K) at age 11.

As we said earlier, Clement retired from his IRS job in 1959, and then, between 1961 and 1965, successfully served as the Johnson County Treasurer.

(P-0256) This scenic postcard (circa 1965) features a birds-eye view of Iowa City from just west of Iowa Stadium.

As far as we know, the Boyle’s continued living at 229 South Johnson into the 1960’s. Clement died on November 4, 1965 at age 70, and Marie passed on July 10, 1989 at age 88. Both are buried in Saint Joseph Cemetery in Iowa City.

The Boyle’s oldest son, John P. Boyle became a Catholic priest and lived in Davenport, dying in 2006. Fr. Boyle served on the faculty at St. Ambrose Academy and Assumption High School in Davenport, and in 1972, joined the University of Iowa, where he held the Catholic chair of Theology in the School of Religion. He served as the director of the School of Religion and taught courses on Catholic Theology and Medical Ethics until retiring in 2001. Father Boyle’s obituary mentions that he was survived – in 2006 – by his two sisters – Marilyn (Mrs. Richard) Sargent of Advance, North Carolina, and Catherine (Mrs. John) Martin of Naperville, Illinois, while his two brothers – Daniel Boyle still lived in Iowa City, and as for Richard and wife Nancy – they now lived in Wheaton, Illinois.

In 2013, the Boyle’s middle son – Daniel W. Boyle of Iowa City passed, and in his obituary it states that he is survived by Marilyn (Richard) Sargent of New Lenox, Illinois, Catherine (John) Martin of Naperville, Illinois, and his brother, Richard (Nancy) Boyle of Wheaton, Illinois.

As for our War Ration Book owner, young Richard J. Boyle. The Iowa City Press-Citizen shows him marrying Nancy B. Price in 1967 and living in the Washington D.C. area. Our search in 2023 found Richard – age 87 – on Facebook – still living in Wheaton, Illinois – see his pic below!

Godspeed to Iowa City’s Own – The Boyle Family of 229 South Johnson Street!

DYK-March 17, 2023

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Congress Declares War, Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 8, 1941

Ration Books, The National WWII Musuem-New Orleans

Original Vintage WWII Poster Runaway Prices Economy Rationing War Bonds Victory1943, 1stDibs.com

Clem Boyle – 1940 U.S. Census, Ancestry.com

U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 for Clement Aloysius Boyle, Ancestry.com

Clem Boyle – 1950 U.S. Census, Ancestry.com

Clem Boyle, Treasurer 1961-1965, History of Johnson County Elected Offices, JohnsonCountyIowa.gov

Clem Boyle, Residents’ Father, Dies, Quad City Times, November 5, 1965, p 8

Richard J. Boyle Weds, Iowa City Press-Citizen, May 11, 1967, p 8

Marie E. Phillips Boyle, Find-A-Grave

Clement A. Boyle, Find-A-Grave

Rev John Phillips Boyle, Find-A-Grave

Daniel W. Boyle, Find-A-Grave

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