Bill Whiffletree on “Rationing”
Some people seem to lose their heads completely when they get on the subject of this ‘rationing’ business. But I always tell them — I say ‘keep cool’ — ‘keep calm’ — and ‘Keep your shirts on’ — there’s a war on just now — or perhaps you hav’nt Heard about it, maybe. But they go raving and caving right along just the same — until it almost makes you ashamed of the human race.
Of course, now, I admit that it Is annoying sometimes when you need something right bad — to have some Punkin-headed son-of-a-Democrat look you straight in the eye and tell you-you can’t have it — unless you have a good rating in Dunn & Bradstreet, are mentioned in Burke’s “Peerage,” and a member in good standing in the Ancient Order of the Pork Barrel.
Yes, I admit all of that, because when a man really Wants a thing — or a woman either, for that matter — they really Want it — not next week, you understand — or next month — or next year — but Right 7s[ow — in a hurry, perhaps — or sometimes he — or she — wants a thing the day-before-yesterday I was talking to a lady I know — and she Is a lady — or Was one — until this Rationing business came up — and ever since that — I’m telling you honestly — she has gone plain loco — or ga-ga — or something. You get her started on the rationing subject and the only thing a wise man can do after that is to crawl into a culvert — or a man-hole — or something — and it might be a good idea to pull the hole in after him — and cover-up. I am not exaggerating — or at least — not much.
Take the case, now, of that fellow out in Hackensack, Nebraska. Hackensack Is in Nebraska, I think. In fact, I am quite sure about it. Yes, I remember now, Hackensack Is located in Peoria. Well, anyhow … Where was I?
Oh, yes. Regarding the case of that guy out in Cedar Falls, Arkansas, who wanted a pair of leather shoes. Just an ordinary pair of leather brogans to cover up his pedal extremities — that is all he wanted. So he goes into a shoe store — or so the story has it — and, mind, I’m not vouching for the truth of the story — it may be true — or it may be false — I wouldn’t know. But anyway — this man goes into the shoe store in Tampa, Florida, and asks for a plain, inexpensive pair of shoes. And — why Shouldn’t he, I’d like to know! Answer me That, please! What’s wrong with Anyone wanting a pair of kickers? I wear them — You wear them — or used to — Everybody wears shoes except the Hottentots, maybe — and — who the hotel-blinkety-blank Wants to Be A Hottentot?
And another thing. How about gas for the car? …. And I mean Real gas — and not the kind of gas we read about in the Lower House and the Senate!
Gas and oil! Oil and gas! Fetch me my gas mask quick, Montgomery!
Secretary Ickes says we ain’t got it — Harry Hopkins says we gotta have it — we read about Cabinet members riding to work on bicycles, tricycles, rolly-coasters, and kiddie cars. Why — the only man I Know that’s got any sense left is my old uncle, and he is out there right now — plowing his wet bottomlands with an old mule and a cow! …. And butter? Butter! Who brought That up?
Why — out at our place these days the family is glad — Glad, mind you — to get a quarter of a short pound of rancid butter that looks like axle grease and tastes like the water in a decaying swamp log.
One man — whose name I do not care to divulge — writes me that in His neighborhood the cellars are so jam-packed with canned goods and groceries that the gas man can’t get in to read the meter.
Already the threat to ration cigarettes and chewing gum has resulted in Society ladies in Bridgeport practicing up on chewing tobacco and taking snuff!
Yesterday a man strolls into my place. He says — (I quote) — ‘I am from the Inter-State Commerce Commission. ‘I want the first, last, and middle names of yourself, your wife, and your great-grandfather on the paternal side, together with a resume’ of your own life’s history, where you were born, and when, and why — ‘
I said ‘Just a minute, Mister. Have a cigar.’
He struck a match, lit the cigar, said ‘Well — I’ll be going’, and he climbed into his rolly-coaster, stepped on the rationed gas, and disappeared down the road in a cloud of dust and tobacco smoke.
I sometimes wonder.
But my heart really goes out to the chap in Ohio — a friend of mine — who went into a restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and ordered one of those deep, rich, well-browned steaks some folks like them that way…..well done, with a garnish of mushrooms or celery onions…..not the thick, Rare kind, such as the English seem to prefer — but ‘done to a turn’ as the saying goes, with some good soup, nice, crisp, hot biscuit, with golden-rich, creamy butter, and steaming-hot chicken gravy, and a hot pot of good coffee with two slices of blueberry pie. Well, folks …. this friend of mine Didn’t Have The Price! “Brother — you can eat if you have a priority rating.’
Why they even say that to me. Me!— mind you! a grown-up, red-blooded, full-fledged citizen of this, our glorious Republic! Me — a law-abiding, tax-paying owner of the property — or who used to own property — or at least Could own property — or even if I Don’t own any property — so what? Who said that? I beg your pardon!
I used to be completely rational. Or else, I used to be completely irrational. I forget which. It doesn’t matter. Today — thanks to this see-sawing, triple-dealing, overlapping, bureaucratic system of hedgehopping Politics — I am as completely irrational as any human caring to be — and Proud Of It!