6-11-42 Letter to Bill and Jean Berry (Friends in the U.S.) From Ruby Thompson

                                         78 Western Road
                        Romford, Essex
                     Thursday, June 11, 1942

My dear Bill and Jean,

I've had a letter from Eddie in which he tells me a parcel of ham and butter which I received, wordless, direct from Macy's last Winter, and which I attributed to his kindness, came instead from you. So please accept my very belated thanks for the same. I saved these goodies for when Artie came home on leave, and believe me every bit was enjoyed to the last atom. Good food is extremely scarce these days. We are all getting quite enough to eat, but the rationing, though absolutely fair, works out very meagerly for the small households. Naturally the more you are in a family the better you can cater. If you spend 10/- worth of meat coupons, why, you can get a steak, or perhaps a sirloin, and then there is the makings of at least one good tasting meal for everybody. But when I can spend only 2/-per week for two people-why-what can you buy? My stand-by (this is especially for Jean's interest- supposing she's interested) is a piece of fresh brisket, which is only 10d. per lb. But - do you know brisket? I bet you don't! It's like thin streaky bacon, a strip of lean, then an equal strip of fat. The meat is poor and flavorless, but it will provide two dinners - and - what is really worth more - a jar of good dripping. In ordinary times I should never dream of buying brisket- and you may be sure, once the war is over, I shall never buy it again as long as I live- or until there is another war-which God forbid! As for ham! -that's quite forgotten. Our butter, 2 Oz's. per week per person-we save for Sundays. Butter deprivation is serious. It seems that butter carries a special vitamin which keeps our eyes healthy: so there are a lot of sore eyes about, because of this lack. The margarine we get - 4 Oz's. per week per person - is excellent- but it is not butter, and will not do the work of butter. However, it is palatable, and certainly very much improved on the margarine of pre-war days. Thousands of the English poor never have eaten any "butter" except margarine, because real butter was always too expensive. A charwoman I once had once told me she only bought butter for herself in her family, because neither her husband nor her children would eat it; they preferred margarine as having more taste. We mainly eat our margarine hot  on toast, when it tastes really nice. As for eggs, that's a joke. Our egg ration has been two per person per month. When we get them we make a dinner of them. Well, one day this Spring a friend from the country bought us three honest-to-goodness real new-laid eggs. We decided to celebrate with a high tea. Ted enjoyed his egg fine; so did I mine; but it gave me an attack of indigestion! I tasted sulphur all night, and until after lunch the next day. My stomach had forgotten how to handle an egg. I have heard of other people having the same trouble. Some folks claim it is something peculiar in the eggs, due to the very eccentric food the hens get nowadays. Maybe but there you are - we can no longer digest fresh eggs. Probably we'll have forgotten how to handle other foods also - but we will try our luck just the same, whenever we get any. 

Now note: I sit down to write a letter and what do I write about? Food. Isn't it awful! Whenever people get together nowadays invariably the talk turns to food. Where you can get what, what ques you stood in, what wasn't worth waiting for, and the cost- the awful mounting cost. The unrationed foods soar until the government steps in and regulates prices, but then the item disappears. This is a joke. We just laugh. If you could be here you would be surprised how good-tempered the British are. The English still confine their grumbles to the weather. The war disagreeableness is accepted uncomplainingly-or they bring down the house handed out as vaudeville jokes. Yes, we are queer people. 
I haven't any particular news to write. We are well and hope to keep so. Mr. Thompson is a Lance/Corporal in the Home Guard. He goes on duty three nights a week, and Sunday mornings. Artie has his commission in the Reconnaissance Corps. Cuth has been shifted to a new camp and should now be addressed at Stulag Luft 3. He writes cheerfully enough, but this week he told us that all the men of his crew have now perished. Poor lads! We were able to sleep in our beds all this past winter, but now since the raid on Cologne trouble is stirring again and I expect right now we shall have to abandon the upper floor. My young brother was in Singapore. From there he got to Colombo, and now my mother has received a cable from  Capetown, saying he is on his way home. 
We have just been told tonight of the visit of Molotov to London and Berlin. Bill, I have often thought of your visit to Russia, back in the 30's. This must help you to visualize the Russian front quite a lot, and I think you must be more glad than ever now that you made that trip. Do you know what strikes me most about the trend of events? It's this: The Russian idea is going to win the world in the end, without directly campaigning for it. When daily every state becomes more and more totalitarian, and when you listen to the talk on what is to be done to Society after the war- why- Bolshevism walks in as a matter of course- doesn't it? Funny I think. 
Now,Au-revoir. Keep on praying for us and keep us in your affectionate remembrances. Ted sends greetings, compliments, regards. I send my thanks and love. 
Ruby A. Thompson 

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