A Horse Named “Sugar”

Andy with Sugar rocking horse

I was about two in this photo of me and my rocking horse “Sugar,” so it must have been about 1945.   I can’t tell you how many times I heard the story about how my father hand-made the horse for my special Christmas present and how many miles I rode on that steed.

But I never was told why the horse was named “Sugar.” In fact it didn’t occur to me to even wonder about that until now.  My interest in the origin of Sugar’s name arose partly because of today’s Cuban-themed blog and partly because of some of the empty shelves in our markets.  Let me explain.

To begin, our current shortages of commodities such as flour (or toilet paper) certainly have been an inconvenience. I even had to resort to begging our son Travis to ship us bread flour from Brooklyn.

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The happy day when the bread flour arrived from Brooklyn.

This “hardship” was put into perspective for me the other day.  While going through a box of old family photos and letters, I came across the War Ration Book Four which was issued to me during WWII.  For heavens sake,  I was just a toddler!

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Looking through it made me realize that our current situation hasn’t even come close to the magnitude of shortages endured by families during that era. And more to the point of today’s Andy’s Corner, one of the scarcest commodities during the war was sugar.

The significance of sugar certainly predates WWII shortages.  Lisandro Pérez, a former colleague and whose Cuban black beans recipe we feature in today’s blog, recently published  Sugar, Cigars, and Revolution: The Making of Cuban New York which highlights the importance of sugar in Cuba’s relationship to the U.S.

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In addition, while doing some background research I discovered that sugar, or more precisely, beet sugar, was a major economic force in the towns where Ann and I grew up – although the industry had shifted to other parts of the world by the time either of us was around.

I think it is important to note that the shortages during WWII prompted a response unlike what is going on with Covid-19. Rather than the random signs we see posted in retail establishments asking customers to limit their purchases, the U.S government had an aggressive coordinated  program. 

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia: 

The work of issuing ration books and exchanging used stamps for certificates was handled by some 5,500 local ration boards of mostly volunteer workers selected by local officials. Many levels of rationing went into effect. Some items, such as sugar, were distributed evenly based on the number of people in a household.

Sugar, the first consumer commodity to be rationed, was cut to about one half of normal household consumption levels and it continued to be rationed for up to two years following the war (see more about that here). 

But the sugar issue is much more personal in my family history than just being part of a  national policy.  A recurring part of the family lore I grew up with was that during this rationing time our father used up our family’s precious sugar to make concord grape wine.   I still can picture the grape arbor behind our house but I was too young to recall this particular incident.

 

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A page from my War Ration Book. Note that only one sugar stamp remains.

So, I recently asked Helen, my older sibling by 5 years, if she recalled this incident.  She told me that she has vivid memories of this – mainly because it was the only time she had ever seen our mom so furious with our dad.  And to top it off, the wine turned out bad; the sugar had been wasted.

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Recipe I found on line.  We are not including it in the BLM recipe list.

So this brings me back to the nagging question of why my rocking horse was named Sugar.  I like to think that it was more than a cute name.  Even though my siblings may disagree, I imagine that in the aftermath of the wine-gone-bad-with-the-rationed-sugar incident my dad was trying to get back in our mom’s good graces by creating a beautiful little rocking horse for her favorite child and, meaningfully, naming it Sugar

I undoubtedly will never know whether it got him back in her good graces or even if that was why my pony was named Sugar, but I have to admit that it was a pretty cute horse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Helen Weaver says:

    Hey little brother, the sugar story was correct except for the little part you keep getting wrong cause Mom liked me better than you.

    Like

    • theRaggedys says:

      I thought there may some resistance to my assertion that mom like me best. Too bad we can’t go back to the source. Regardless, I love you.

      Little Brother (although Dan is still the actual littler brother)

      Like

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