Old News – War Shortages

Big wars create shortages. Manufacturers change production to goods for the war and then the citizens end up having a hard time finding some commodities. It has always been that way. It always will be. Sometimes the shortages are not for items that you would suspect. During World War II there was a shortage of rubber because it can from South America and all available rubber was needed for war vehicles. That made it impossible to get tires for your car. In this article from World War I they are having trouble getting coal because of a shortage of railroad cars.

What was known as Rochester Railway & Light Company ran electric trolleys, sold electricity and gas. They became Rochester Gas and Electric when they sold the trolley business.


Thursday, Nov. 29, 1917

Fairport People Beginning To Feel Pinch Caused by War Shortage of Supplies

Fairport maybe without gas soon, unless the Rochester Railway & Light Company can secure gas oil without which it is impossible to manufacture gas. At present the company has on hand only enough oil, to enable them to keep going for two weeks. Gas oil is not scarce, but tank cars in which to ship it are. The  company is also hard put to secure coal. This is only another instance of the tie up in shipping. the train yards are full of loaded trains which have been standing for weeks waiting for engines to haul them. Railroad officials say that if steel plates could be secured, quits a number of disabled engines now lying idle, could be repaired and brought into service. But the steel plants can hardly keep up the output to meet the shipbuilders’ demands.

The country is engaged in war and sooner or later, the people will realize it. Before it is over, we will learn by experience to get along without what we have been calling necessities, and luxuries will not be manufactured. We can get along without sugar, and not be quite so fat; we can go to bed with the chickens to save coal and the lights, but we must keep from freezing. Robert M. Searles, vice president of Rochester Railway & Light Co., has only one room in his house heated to 70 degrees. If the vice president of the road, who could “hog” coal, is willing to conserve coal, others should be glad to follow his example.

We heard of one instance in town of a housekeeper ordering a ton of coal from a local firm, and when the driver delivered the coal, he had to shovel back what was already in the cellar to make room for more. Within a few days she ordered another ton, but the driver informed the dealer of her supply, and she got no more.

This equals the woman who had two barrels of sugar in the house and tried to buy more to use, because her husband was away and she couldn’t get the top off the barrels.

The county’s coal administrator should take up the matter in Fairport, as he did recently in Pittsford, where a committee was appointed which made a systematic canvass of the village and found out the people who had plenty of coal and were trying to get more. This committee stated there were homes in Pittsford where the furnaces had not been started up to this time, because of their inability to get coal.

The idea some people have of grabbing all they can lay their hands on, while others go without, is not the kind of attitude that will help win the war. Sacrifice is a word that most of us know not the meaning, but it may be brought home to us, before peace is declared.

If people would buy what they need of coal, sugar or any other commodity, instead of laying in a supply sufficient to last for a year, the tightness of the situation would loosen up..