Voice of Real Australia: Rations in the days of World War II

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Newcastle Herald journalist Damon Cronshaw.

The global pandemic we're enduring feels like a war. It's a different war, but still a war.

We're all bunkered down, trying to protect ourselves and others to stop an enemy we can't even see from harming us.

The crisis has revived memories of World War II for Heather Carroll, from Stanford Merthyr in the NSW Hunter region.

Different era: A kitchen during World War II. Things are bad now, but we still have plentiful food.

Different era: A kitchen during World War II. Things are bad now, but we still have plentiful food.

Heather was born in 1940. She lived through the war and its aftermath. They were tough times. People lived on food rations.

When we think of how plentiful our food is now, during the pandemic, it's something that can surely give us some comfort.

In the days after the war, it was soup kitchens that gave people comfort.

"Anybody could turn up to the soup kitchen of an evening and you could bring what you had - a potato, carrot or slice of bread," she said.

"That all went into a big copper pot and everybody shared it. It was cooked over an open fire outdoors."

Heather remembers that time for the sense of community.

As for now, during the coronavirus crisis, there's a feeling that the sense of community is growing.

As the panic buying settles and people begin to accept and adapt to the situation, there's a sense that we're all in this together.

People in the Hunter have been putting their teddy bears in their front yards or windows, so kids can go on a bear hunt as they walk or drive around the neighbourhood with their parents.

Twin teddy bears in Newcastle.

Twin teddy bears in Newcastle.

Signs have been put up thanking essential workers.

And people have been sharing jokes to lift spirits. Like these ones:

Day eight of quarantine: Had a conversation with a spider. Seems nice. He's a web designer.

No one in Antarctica has the coronavirus yet. That's because everyone staying there is ice-olated.

I tried to come up with a joke about social distancing. This is about as close as I could get.

A lot of babies are going to be born around Christmas in 2020.

An Irishman, an Englishman and a Scotsman [and an Aussie] walked into a pub. Actually, no they didn't. They're all closed.

After hearing that Prince Charles had the coronavirus, the Queen went straight outside into her garden. She was in need of some fresh heir.

Damon Cronshaw

journalist, Newcastle Herald

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This story Rations in the days of World War II first appeared on Newcastle Herald.