Roger Foster, of Saranac Lake, who most will remember as the guy running the DEC Fish Hatchery in Lake Clear prior to his retirement, has loaned me a treasure chest of Saranac Lake memorabilia. The following items are taken from Mr. Foster's collection.
The war with Japan ended yesterday, August 14, 1945, 64 years ago and the Saranac Lake Lions Club in their newsletter named the "Lion's Roar" carried this cover sheet VJ DAY August 14, 1945 "The long awaited day has at last arrived and now we look forward to a speedy return of our many friends to Saranac Lake."
Among other things on loan are a number of ration books from World War II. There are fewer and fewer people around who ever heard of them say nothing about having to use them. So the end of the war meant no more ration stamps.
Shown is a ration book with stamps illustrating an artillery piece. Other stamps pictured tanks or planes. And a coupon was needed to buy a pair of shoes.
Gasoline is always in the news now but if you can afford it you can buy as much as you want. In 1942 you were issued a large stamp for your car windshield with a letter attachedA big white "A" on a black background meant that you could buy 4 gallons of gas a week (you had a book of stamps to use with the letter) but those four gallons could not be used for recreational driving. Each stamp in another book was good for 5 gallons of fuel oil.
A green "B" sticker might be issued to industrial plant (War) workers and they could buy 8 gallons of gas a week and it went on to red "C" stickers for doctors and railroad who could buy more gas and then a "T" for truckers who could buy unlimited amounts.
The books with the stamps enclosed were as valuable as money because you also had to have the stamps to buy sugar and butter and other household goods. Many can remember their mothers digging through their pocketbook to find the correct number of stamps to go with the purchase. And again, it did not matter how much money you had, you could only purchase the amount set by the United States of America Office of Price Administration.
Oh, and if you died, you had to return your books to the local Ration Board, eh, ah, someone had to return them.
From the Lions newsletter
The newsletter is written in a very personal style but is signed at the end, "Yours very sincerely, The Saranac Lake Folks." Some of the items from July and August, 1945
"The Real Estate men in town are doing a land office business these days. (My, how things have changed!)
"Within the past three months, Duke Huntington purchased the Henry Leis building on Bloomingdale Avenue; Dr. W. O. Kelley bought Brett Stokes house on Park Avenue and Dr. Walter Taylor purchased the old Taylor Boarding Cottage at 138 Park Avenue which as been vacant for a number of years. The Berkeley Hotel was sold to a Mr. Bratter. W. C. Leonard's Store was sold to a group of business men from Syracuse and the White Elephant Cottages in Ray Brook to a party from Rochester. The Alpine Hotel is in the process of being sold. Goodman Kelleher from Lake Placid bought all the furniture and kitchenware.
"Durgan's Grill at Lake Colby has been reopened under the management of Mose LaFountain and Bob Bouyea. Leo Simmons, who has been with Reis Pharmacy for the past eight years, has purchased the Hotel Saranac Pharmacy from Mrs. E. M. Baker."
In other news there was a rumor that that the DEC might put in a set of locks from Middle to Upper Saranac lakes after the warbut it was still just in the gossip column.
"Capt. Dick Murphy, M.D., Sgt. Bill Mulflur Sr., the former barrister and Lt. Alice Coty, former general Hospital nurse had a reunion in Casablanca. While they were lunching in an Arab restaurant, in walks another Saranac Laker, Capt. Fritz Bendell. The group borrowed a jeep and had a whale of a time."
A note about "D" Day
Excerpts from a letter to his parents from Lt. Frank Kunath flying with the first heavy bombardment group to start bombing the coast on "D" Day
"When we hit the coast I saw the tremendous bombardment by the naval units. It was a sight that will live with me forever. We flew down the center of the invasion lane and dared not fly back the same way as we would be fired upon by our own ships. We almost cashed in when we had a mid-air collision with another B-24. Our co-pilot saw another B-24 heading right for us and we pulled up, but the tail of the other ship tore a hole under the nose of our ship, it was then that I began to sweat. On another mission that same day I had a wonderful view of the channel and in it swarmed seacraft of every description. So I had a ringside seat for the biggest show in the world."