Tires For Victory (1-7-1942)

One month had passed since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and plunged America into World War II.  Chicagoans were starting to adjust to the fact.

The armed forces needed material to carry on the fight.  Civilians would have to get used to less of almost everything.  Today the news was about rationing–specifically, tire rationing.

Much of our rubber came from Malaysia and Indonesia.  Those countries were now under enemy control.  Synthetic rubber wasn’t yet practical.  The result?  The U.S. government was setting up tire rationing boards.

The boards would decide how many new tires a dealer was allowed to sell, and at what price.  Meanwhile, the public would be limited on how often they could buy tires.  First preference would go to civilians working in defense industry, or people in vital occupations, such as doctors.  Violators of rationing laws were subject to a $10,000 fine and a 10-year prison term.

For now, there were no federal laws about used tires.  But the State of Illinois was already preparing legislation in this area.  We didn’t want dishonest vendors trying to cheat the public by selling defective tires!

State officials were also worried that rationing would cut their revenue.  A few months ago, the state sales tax had been reduced from 3% down to 2%–which allowed consumers to spend more, and actually increased tax receipts.  The new federal controls would mean fewer sales, and less sales tax money for Illinois.

And with tires being rationed, state tax collectors wouldn’t be able to make their rounds.  “Now they are visiting every crossroads and village in Illinois to see that the state gets its taxes,” a Springfield official said.  “What happens when we are unable to continue this method is hard to see.”  An $8 million shortfall was predicted.

Back in Chicago, a group of tire dealers was organizing a petition drive.  These dealers were located on the outer fringes of the city.  They complained the local tire rationing board was favoring dealers closer to downtown.

The looming tire shortage meant theft was becoming a problem.  The latest incident took place at North Side Tire on Ashland Avenue, where thieves made off with 20 tires and 20 batteries.  While they were at it, they stole the company truck, too.

This was a slice of Chicago life one month into World War II.  And the war wouldn’t be over for another three-and-a-half years.



1 Response to “Tires For Victory (1-7-1942)”

  1. 1 Garry January 8, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    The sole reason for gas rationing during the war was the rubber shortage.
    My dad had a “B” stamp as they had a small store on the West Side & had to make pick ups & deliveries.

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