WARTIME RATION

July 11, 2009

MANY YOUNG SERVICEMEN FROM INVERNESS, CAPE BRETON, STATIONED IN HALIFAX DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR, FOUND A SUBSTITUTE MOTHER IN MARY. OFTEN THE LONELY EVENINGS WERE SPENT WITH HER AND HER FAMILY WHILE THEY AWAITED THEIR DEPARTURE FOR OVERSEAS. ALTHOUGH FOOD WAS RATIONED MARY SOMEHOW ALWAYS MANAGED TO FIND ENOUGH TO FEED EVERYONE.
REALIZING HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS TO PROVIDE FOR THE MANY UNINVITED BUT ALWAYS WELCOMED GUESTS VISITING MARY’S HOME, THESE YOUNG MEN BEGAN TO SMUGGLE OUT FOOD FROM THEIR BARRACKS. MARY LECTURED THEM WHEN THEY ARRIVED CARING THEIR OFFERING EXCEPT WHEN THEIR OFFERING WAS A POUND OR TWO OF TEA. TEA WAS ALWAYS WELCOMED. TO A SCOT IT IS CONSIDERED A NECESSITY; AS IMPORTANT AS FRESH HOME BAKED BREAD AND BUTTER.
I BELIEVE MY UNCLE DANNY’S LOVE AFFAIR WITH TEA BEGAN WHILE HE WAS STILL A SMALL BOY. HE AND HIS SIBLINGS WRAPPED THEIR SMALL HANDS AROUND LARGE MUGS FILLED WITH THE DELICIOUS TEA BREWED BY THEIR MOTHER. SHE ALLOWED IT TO STEEP FOR FIVE MINUTES IN THE LARGE CROCK TEAPOT COVERED WITH A COLOURFUL COSY. SHE POURED FRESH MILK INTO LARGE MUGS AND ADDED LOTS OF SUGAR TO THE DARK, HOT TEA. OH HOW HE ENJOYED IT! THE OLDER HE GOT THE STRONGER HE LIKED IT BREWED.

DURING WW2 DANNY WAS TRUTHFULLY AFFECTED BY THE RATION OF TEA. YEARNING FOR A HOT CUP HE RUSHED HOME WITH HIS FIRST EVER RATION OF TEA. RATHER THAN DIVIDE IT UP FOR LATER USE HE DECIDED HE WOULD USE IT ALL. HE NEEDED A GOOD STRONG CUP. HE WOULD GO OUT EARLY TOMORROW MORNING, HE THOUGHT, TO GET ANOTHER RATION.
DANNY BUSIED HIMSELF WITH THE TEA MAKING. ALLOWING IT TO STEEP JUST LONG ENOUGH BUT NOT TOO LONG, HE SAVOURED THE RICH AROMA AS HE POURED IT INTO THE MILK ALREADY IN THE WAITING TEACUP. SIPPING ON THE LIQUID GOLD HE RELAXED AS HE THOUGHT HOW GOOD IT TASTED. FINALLY, DRAINING THE POT, HE SAVOURED THE WONDERFUL WARM FEELING IT GAVE HIM.

AS HE STOOD IN LINE THE NEXT MORNING WAITING TO BUY A RATION OF TEA, HE THOUGHT TO HIMSELF, MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE SAVE A LITTLE. FINALLY IT WAS HIS TURN. WITH A LARGE SMILE ON HIS BROAD FACE HE PASSED HIS RATION BOOK TO THE GROCER. “SORRY,” THE MAN SAID “YOU ALREADY HAD YOUR RATION. YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY MORE UNTIL NEXT WEEK.” THE SMILE ON DANNY FACE DISAPPEARED.
IT WASN’T LONG BEFORE DANNY’S SISTER MARY OPENED HER DOOR TO FIND HER BROTHER STANDING THERE, “THIG A-STEACH! COME IN. SIT AND HAVE SOME TEA.” SHE SAID, MUCH AS HE HAD EXPECTED SHE WOULD.

AS MARY MADE THE TEA, DANNY TOLD HER HIS STORY. HER LAUGHTER SOON DREW EVERYONE TO THE KITCHEN. THE STORY HAD TO BE TOLD AND RETOLD. AS A MATTER OF FACT IT IS STILL BEING TOLD TO-DAY.

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