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The foods they could obtain were imported and prices of the products shot up because of the War. The government had to resort to food rationing and distributed coupons. As the War proceeded, meat, fats and milk became scarce. Soon, there were 10 rationing programs. The shortages made preparing a meal a difficult task. Homemakers had to innovate or improvise on sugar substitutes, such as molasses, maple syrup, honey, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and soda pop. Leftovers were used as stuffing for peppers for another day. Victory Gardens were grown to respond to the need of the time in every family. The produce of the Gardens supplied the family needs at home and sent to feed America's European allies.
The times tested the spirit. But those women coped with hardship with courage until it did not seem like hardship. They recalled having babies and got extra ration coupons. Surprisingly, they had more than they needed. They even shared what they had with others who needed them. But all in all, they had to make sacrifices. They had to stretch a piece of meet to feed all the members of the family. They used oleo in place of butter. The government used butter and other fats for warfare. Glycerin was used for explosives. Homemakers would take fat from meat drippings and trimmings to a butcher and exchange these with ration coupons.
Navy League Women
Many of the members of the Navy League were women who contributed their part during World War II by filling defense-rated positions usually taken by men. In Philadelphia, for example, a convalescent center for injured members of the armed forces was set up. The women Navy leaguers took the injured members to the countryside or the seashore. There they made the injured feel as good as possible and as if they were at home. The leaguers also hosted similar outings for families who fought overseas. The service center accepted an injured member to care, regardless of race, creed or color. Five pilot Army and Navy hospitals first established in and around Philadelphia and proved successful.
Navy League women also assisted active-duty personnel in their naval or military assignments. Women councils taught at special defense training schools. They conducted courses on parachute packing, radio communications and cryptanalysis and other topics. They also sewed thousands of uniform and uniform items for members at sea. They usually worked with other women volunteers from the Navy Relief Society, the Seamen's Church Institute and the Society for Seamen's Children. The New York City Women's Council prepared celebrity dinners and dancer from sales of clothing for wives and widows of soldiers. It also found jobs for their women members. The National Women's Council distributed wooden cribs and wooden toy trains to the children of sailors. The squadrons of these sailors were instrumental in disrupting Japanese naval operations in the first part of the War in the Pacific. They also helped sailors and marines stay out of trouble through the use of "pathfinder cards," which they could use to buy free meals and entertainment at particular enlisted clubs. These clubs were run and manned by Navy League volunteers and similar patriotic groups. The Navy League offered decent but attractive entertainment to patrons. Sailors had the chance to meet decent girls in these clubs. This information was voiced over by a loud speaker in the ships. Navy League women also functioned as volunteer nurses and as recruiters for the WAVES.
In the past, the word "computer" was a job, not a machine as it is known today. Both men and women were hired to function as computers then. But there were more women than men computers for practical reasons. There were more women who trained in mathematics and who could be hired for less than men with the same training. But women took the job in and, as a result, contributed valuably to the invention of the first electronic computers. In 1942 as World War II brew, hundreds of women were hired throughout the country as computers. They solved long lists of equations on mechanical desk calculators. The inputs were compiled into tables and passed on to the battlefields by gunnery officers. The tables enabled those in the battlefield to program their artillery and other weapons according to the variable conditions provided, such as temperature and air density. The Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia had dozens of women computers. There they pounded on calculators and produced columns of numbers. Besides computing, they recruited and trained women college graduates with math degrees and, later on, high school graduates as well. Some of them operated a differential analyzer, which calculated the path of a shell or bomb in its flight. Others assembled circuits used in the ENIAC, one of the first electronic digital computers. Nearing the completion of the ENIAC, more women were hired as human computers for training as programmers. The War ended in 1945 but the interest in the machine continued for its potential in calculating complex equations at very fast speeds. The last women taken as programmers devised the very first computer program, which was formally introduced in 1946. All these innovating women were released when the machine was taken into a military base in Washington DC. Most of the women found jobs as programmers elsewhere.
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