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Red Points and Ration Cards: Life in Austin during World War II


This is an online exhibit from the Austin History Center and the Austin Public Library. Austin in the early '40s: the population was 114,000; I-35 was yet to be built; the average rent per month was $35; Lyndon Johnson was the congressional representative from this area. Newspaper headlines charted the progress of battles in World War II, and President Roosevelt cautioned that a "long hard war" lay ahead. Smaller, local news stories recorded changes taking place on the home front to help our armed forces win the war. Since soldiers' needs came first, the homefolks did their part by rationing food ("red points" were the cardboard tokens given as change from purchases made with ration cards), planting victory gardens, recycling metals, and buying defense bonds. Austin brides followed their new husbands to military posts around the country. Local businesses reduced deliveries to save gasoline. The University of Texas considered a new class for women in elementary aircraft drafting. During this time, Austin was known as a "Home Away from Home" for over 20,000 military personnel and their families. Austinites found ways to entertain the troops as they came into the city each weekend from nearby Camp Gary, Fort Hood, Camp Swift, and Bergstrom Field. Join us now for a look at life in Austin during World War II.

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