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.
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.