Grandfather and his granddaughter sitting on a back porch with their puppy. A grandmother's portrait.

10 Truths My Grandma Taught Me About World Wars

10 Truths My Grandma Taught Me About World Wars

My grandmother taught me everything I know about living during a world war. What she taught me, translates today. Even with technology now leading the way, basic human needs remain the same. The way it feels to live inside the global event, as well as the national changes, has changed.

Living in the US in 2022 redefines war support. Where once buying US War Bonds, (civilians giving the US Government a loan to build war machines), now we give in another way. Higher prices, lowered investment gains, and new taxes. Where once a US resident felt like they participated, now we feel like we are victims of politicians. Which isn't far from the truth. Because politicians are supporters of the Military Complex and profit from it. In the first and second world wars there was no Military Complex. There was the United States Military, under the command of Congress, the Senate, and the President. That truth has flipped. Mostly after the Vietnam War, after a handful of politicians became very rich over the production of helicopters. But that's another history lesson.

Suffice it to say, if you didn't live through the first two world wars, or as a child sitting on the knee of someone who did, you have little knowledge of the experiences or lessons that can help today. You weren't and are not being taught these truths in school. Inconvenient truths get whitewashed for politics' sake. And history rewritten for a placid branding of a nation.

That all being said in the general senses, let's take the best tips my grandma gave me that I see and find timely today as our new world war unspools.

  1. Waste not, want not. In all things. Single serving anything is a poor choice financially, environmentally, and resourcefully. Grandma Kinzer had a magnificent collection of butter containers and jelly jars. Clean, dry, and serviceable. There was no such thing as zip lock baggies. She used them to store anything that needed storing from buttons to coffee. To her way of thinking storage was paramount. She used her containers for storing blanched vegetables, and fruits sugared, cleaned, and frozen. Every food item from her garden served its purpose at the point of harvest, or later in storage. Wasting nothing meant there was always something available. She taught me how to save things for immediate use, later use, or sharing with others. Not wasting food or goods saves money. It saves resources. It saves the environment from discarded excess. Living wastefully while others are starving and struggling is living poorly.
  2. Portions. In the first two world wars this was called rationing. Grandma Kinzer showed me her ration tickets. Tickets given out to citizens to authorize them to buy certain amounts of meat, dairy, and sugars. Because a million soldiers in Europe needed feeding. We had to make sure our country could feed our country's soldiers. Portioning is hard to understand in a country where excess is admired, promoted, and influenced through marketing. Setting aside social norms, mindful consumption protects our finances, our environment, and our resources. Which supports our ability to act and react during uncertain times of world war. There will be spikes in costs of everything for years to come. Absorbing cost changes and spikes is doable when you waste not, and portion your consumption to the level of needs, not wants.
  3. Meat isn't mandatory. In this country of plenty and excess, all our foods (ALL OUR FOODS) are a marketing gimmick. Industries vying for position in our mouths. The history of food in America is literally a history of marketing, politics, and unions. Excess always leads to delusion and lies. The meat industry pushed protein. The milk industry, calcium. KFC wanted you to know their chicken was better than the other guys, but they both bought from the same suppliers. The dairy industry wanted to sell margarine (not dairy). They petitioned politicians to push the FDA to allow them to use the word 'butter' in their product description. They were able to do that for quite some time. Processed Cheese Food is not cheese. You get my point. Meat will be the first to reflect the costs of war. Because meat is a living animal that requires feeding, tending, rendering, and then refrigeration. Per calorie, meat touches all the bases of all the points of war manufacturing. Oil is second to meat. ** I HIGHLY recommend a quick read of a cookbook that speaks directly to the experience of living during a world war. MFK Fisher brings the recipes, stories, and American attitude to what it really means to thrive, no matter the limitations. I HIGHLY recommend reading this quick read. (Did I say that already?) How to Cook a Wolf **
  4. Where are you going and why? Yes, the Ukraine war is affecting the cost of gas. Yes, Russia knew this was one of their playing cards in Europe. No, I'm not interested in visiting political parties to blame. They are not the problem. Voters are the problem. In 2022, unlike the first two world wars, we who have dollars to spend can directly affect our foes. What we buy with money can and could support our foes long term. Where are you going and why? The question seeks to know if where you are going and why you are going there supports our foes. Our global economy is exactly like a canal. Where we put our money can flood a country's gate with money, or it can drain it. In 2022, in this way, we have more power than we did in the first two world wars.
  5. Consuming isn't a past time. Consuming is an instinctive habit created by corporations to sell us things we don't need. In the immortal words of Tyler Durden via Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression." And yet, now we have a new great war which reveals our great social depression.
  6. Our actions reflect our morals and values. Talk, Post, Tweet, or Insta all you want. The end of the day the reality of who we are as a country, a species, and individuals is as clear as the choice we first make in the morning. Our priorities are our actions.
  7. Offer help, even if you don't hear a favor asked. Offering a helping hand when none is requested is real humanity.
  8. Know that if you are not hearing bombs outside your home, you are the luckiest of people, no matter what you feel financially. If you've gotten steps 1–7 underway and working, then gratitude comes easy.
  9. Support our troops, and all troops fighting for the greater good. This is a global threat now. Unlike the first two world wars, 2022 brings to bear the fact that although our national consciousness demands borders exist, they do not. Humanity will only survive, if humans choose to serve each other. Just a little bit.
  10. Speak no evil, so others have the strength to do the same. The general news entertainment media is not society's ally. Again, do not bring political mouths and their preferences to this conversation. The most powerful change of world war in 2022 is the internet, and our ability to tap into other global citizen's sufferings, firsthand. The truth is not in news entertainment media, it is the individual stories found in all our social media platforms, and our shared experiences with each other. While we take care of each other, we take facts and truths from each other's lives.

When we do not take care of each other, we allow politicians, media, and governments to bridge that gap. The revolution will be televised. Poorly. This world war can bridge the gap with humanity or tear the final vestige leaving us forever doomed to repeat ourselves into oblivion.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to


  • Great article! Both my mother and grandmother lived through WWII . My favorite story was when my mother went to join my father who was posted to Orlando FL because he was basically rejected for combat due to flat feet(I never understood that) where he interrogated Italian prisoners who were happy to be captured. To live off base in an apartment the requirement was you had to have furniture. There was no money for furniture so my parents sold their car, to buy the furniture , to get an apartment. They just had my brother and spent the rest of the war walking to the store using his red wagon to haul the groceries home. It wasn’t until years later I learned some of my parents favorite dinners and snacks came from that time.

    Karen Sheridan on

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