There is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States—every man, woman, and child—is in action and will be privileged to remain in action throughout this war. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives and in our daily tasks. Here at home everyone will have the privilege of making whatever self-denial is necessary, not only to supply our fighting men, but to keep the economic structure of our country fortified and secure during the war and after the war.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s radio broadcast to the nation, April 28, 1942

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Oleo Kid



Bobby was too young to be
part of the homefront army,
or so, he was told,

You can’t collect scrap,
you’ll get hurt.

You can’t put up the
blackout curtains,
you’re too short.

You can’t write to Uncle,
‘cause you can’t write!

You can’t knit...

You can’t...

Oleo now comes in bags
with a little red capsule.
Bobby’s in charge of the oleo.
He squeezes the bag
to break the capsule.
He squeezes some more.
The red mixes in with the white oleo.
Bobby’s always surprised
to find that the red isn’t
really red, it’s yellow!
He squeezes and squeezes
until the oleo is colored completely.
It almost looks like the butter
it’s supposed to replace. Almost.

In the homefront army, which
now recruits even five-year-olds,
"Oleo Kid" is considered
a respectable appointment.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Oleomargarine ad from author's personal collection.


Joyce Ray said...

Diane, my mom told me about coloring the oleo and also about making balls of gum wrapper foil for scrap. And my Bobby remembers being the Oleo squeezer when he was three!Your details about homefront life make it all come alive. The Oleo Kid is a great title.

Diane Mayr said...

The oleo experience was almost universal for kids growing up during the war. It was the one experience I needed to write about, if nothing else.