Wartime Rationing and Shortages:
Because war materials and food were needed by the military for the war effort, and some foreign sources of supply were disrupted by the way, civilians had to make do with less. In early 1942, rubber became the first item to be rationed by the federal government. By 1943, gas rationing became severe, with all forms of "pleasure driving" declared illegal. Some consumers were limited to only three or four gallons of gas per week. Because of driving restrictions, Floridians turned to public transportation, particularly trains, for long distance travel.
The rationing of food had great impact on the lives of average Floridians. The federal government issued ration books authorizing the purchase of specified amounts of various products per week. Beginning in April 1942, sugar was rationed, followed by coffee, meats, butter, canned goods, and a variety of other products.
Though most Floridians tried to abide by the often-confusing government regulations, a thriving black market developed. Tallahassee newspaperman Malcolm Johnson later recalled: "there was a lot of favoritism. If you were a good customer the butcher had something for you that didn't show in the case. And the filling station could find a way to give you more gas and new tires."
State Government Involvement in the War Effort:
The outbreak of war affected virtually every department of Florida's state government, which was responsible for regulating the tremendous social, economic, and demographic changes brought about by the conflict. The State Defense Council, established in late 1940, became responsible for the organization of civilian preparedness. Some of its functions included promoting the sales of war bonds and stamps, fighting illegal black market activities, working with Florida farmers to increase agricultural production, regulating anti-sabotage measures, recruiting nurses, and even establishing a child care program.
During the war a number of the members of the Florida legislature joined the U.S. military. A notable example was Speaker of the House Dan McCarty, who went on to achieve a distinguished combat record as a U.S. Army officer involved in the Allied invasion of southern France.