Thursday, January 19, 2012

September 28, 1942 The Move to Connecticut, The Apartment, The Ration Board, The Test Blackout and The All Clear Signal

Dear Mother & Daddy,

“B has gone to school and I have been trying to put a few things away.  Apartments here are few and far between.  We feel real lucky to have found a place so soon and as nice as it is.  We looked at about 6 and they were all tiny and poorly furnished but 2 or 3.  One had three huge rooms with fair furniture and rented for $15 a week but wasn’t very desirable.  The landlady was a crazy old thing and would probably have been a grouch.  Our apartment is not completed yet.  It had been just sleeping rooms but they are fixing us a kitchen.  We have one other large room.  It’s on the third floor but real nice.  It has a real good box spring and a rug on the floor, a nice floor lamp & table lamp, a study table, 2 big chairs, a big dresser (& I mean big), a straight chair and a wardrobe just like you have been wanting.  There’s a little bookcase and a hat rack, too.  This is, by far, the nicest and cheapest place we looked at.  It is on the front and there are three big windows.  I don’t know exactly what we’ll have in the kitchen but there will be a breakfast set, a range & electric box.  The bath is at the end of the hall & we share it with a boy.  There is a washing machine in the basement and a garage back of the house.  From here, B can walk to his part of the school in 5 or 6 minutes.

People here have a definite Eastern brogue but seem nice and friendly instead of stiff.  The school is scattered all through the center of New Haven.  Yesterday we ran into Billy Young, the Springfield boy, and we drove around and saw most of it.  He had been there two days and had seen it all so he helped us get around.  He lives just up the street from us.  Mr. Hill and the other school people B saw thought we had a real desirable location and cheap rent.

51 Lake Place

We enjoyed our trip but didn’t stop to see a thing.  We were afraid they would ration gas before we could get here.  The man at the ration board where B got our book seemed to think we would have national gas rationing in about 2 months.  Right now we can get 4 gallons on each coupon.

This can be bought anytime and as much at a time as you want, but if you use 8 coupons before the 2 months are up, you have to wait until the next unit of coupons can be used.  There seems to be plenty of gas but the stations are open just certain hours each day, 6 days a week.  Each one has different hours.

I’m writing this in chapters.  B came home from school and we unloaded a few more things.  Then we went to town for a little while.  Groceries don’t seem much higher here than at home.

On the way up here we really saw some beautiful country.  Daddy, I wish you could see the barns in Indiana.  They were the biggest and finest things I ever saw.  Every one had a tile silo or two, lots of windows and the name of the farm and farmer painted on it.  There were lots of fruit farms and apples sold for .50 a bushel up.  We got about 12 or 15 Stark’s Delicious for .20 and are still eating on them.  The houses were nice too and I’ve never seen such beautiful landscaping.  This seems to be the productive season of the year and the seasons seem later than at home.  All kinds of flowers were in bloom all through Indiana and Ohio.  There were great big Dahlias of all colors and almost every flower you could name, even roses.  You could tell the towns were old because the houses sat right on the edge of the sidewalk.  They didn’t even have porches.  The doors opened right on the walk.  The stock on the farms were awfully nice.  The horses were great big, slick haired draft horses and the cattle were almost entirely Holstein.  There were quite a lot of Shropshire sheep, too.

Ohio was a poor looking state.  The houses were in an awful shape.  There were quite a lot of oil wells.  In Penn. we took the Penn. Turnpike.  It’s a super highway, built to prevent so many accidents. The toll on it was $1.50 but we saved that much in gas and tires because the other road was old and rough, and long and mountainous.  The turnpike has two separate lanes for each direction of traffic with a speed limit of 70 miles an hour.  It doesn’t go through a single town but goes close by several and you can get off at several places and go into the towns.  Instead of going over the mountains we went through tunnels.  There were seven and all were about a mile long (through the Allegheny Mountains).  The scenery was beautiful all along the turnpike.

I sure felt sick when I saw New York City.  If New Haven was going to be like that I would have croaked, I think.  The apartments were built right on the sidewalk and clear to the sky it seemed.  In the center of the street was a sort of parkway with benches and a bit of grass.  This parkway was simply packed with people, reading and knitting, just any way to be out in the sun.  People were out walking with the biggest kids in buggies I ever saw.  Many of them were 4 and 5 years old.  There are lots of people here but not like in New York.  It just seems like one big city from Newark, New Jersey to New Haven.  You don’t even get out of one until you’re in another.

When we entered Conn. there were big signs up warning us that we were in the blackout area.  At night you have to drive with lights dimmed and 20 miles per hr.  Our first night here we drove into town to eat and then went back out a ways to a cabin.   Street lights are dim and traffic isn’t very heavy.  Last night we really had a thrill—a test blackout.  Just as we were getting ready for bed the factory whistles and sirens began to blow.  The air raid warning is a group of short blasts.  The lights all went out and people all over the neighborhood went outside to see if anything was really going to happen.  People never know whether it’s real or not.  The all clear signal (one long blast) sounded after 29 minutes.  Some people along the street left lights on and we could hear the air raid wardens tell them to turn them off.  Of course, we had our window up so we could hear everything.  We weren’t even scared.  There are big boxes of sand on the street corners ready for incendiary bombs and there are lots of sand bags around the basement windows of the school buildings.

I probably won’t write again until next week.  Our telephone number is 6-6226 in case you want it.  Tell Beulah I’ll write to her when I get time.  Give Charlotte a hug and write soon.”


                            B & Bonnie

For the top hit of September 28, 1942, watch below:

And for Bonnie's first Connecticut dessert:



  1. Everytime I read one of Bonnie's letters I am amazed at the size of the window back into time she is giving us. The photo's and clips you share along with it, so priceless. I simply can't thank you enough for sharing your mom with the world.

    1. Margaret, you are so kind to comment, and please know how much I appreciate you for having given so much encouragement over time to this project. I'm always thrilled when someone finds something of interest in these little windows of history, as you put it! Thank you!

  2. Such an interesting post Ann. The "turnpike" she describes is obviously like our motorways, but that was in 1942! The first motorway in Britain wasn't built until the 1960s.
    I was surprised to read of practice air raids and blackouts too, I realise you had Pearl Harbour but never thought of the fear of attacks on your mainland.
    Such an interesting post.

    1. Thanks, David. We travel the Pennsylvania Turnpike still, and it is always fun to imagine it as it was so long ago. It was built in 1940 and much of it goes through mountainous areas so there are 7 tunnels.

      There are many mentions of air raid warnings and drills as well as blackouts in the letters. Connecticut is of course on the east coast and my parents talked of submarines in the harbor.


I welcome your comments!