Submitted by Sandra on Sep, 27
Tokens of the Past
Relics from rationing during the Second World War. These are meat tokens. I remember going to the dominion store with my mother, standing at the meat counter, and watching her hand these over to get our meat. I was born in 1938. It reminds me how close I am to the Second World War. I have very vivid memories because I can also remember at the same time my father making sure that no light escaped the house, because we were under an air raid. We were living in the Beaches. I remember going by the Old Toronto armouries (then university) to watch the soldiers marching towards union station to be shipped off. I don't know why I kept these. I'm not much of a hoarder. I know the power of photojournalism. I remember seeing a photograph of a baby covered with dirt sitting in the middle of a railroad track with devastated landscape/buildings behind him. It was probably by Ernie Pyle. With the recent photos of the 3 year old Syrian refugee and the Vietnamese girl who was burned, it has crystallized the significance of the first photo. i remember when the end of the war was announced and everybody was on the streets in a street party.
How is this object or story important to you?
It's part of the continuity and connectedness with my generation/ friends. We still meet. That sense of continuity is rare. We all have that penitence. We know what it's like to have to go without, compared to how much food people waste in these days. We have a shared experience, a history shared. Shared intuition that you don't even need to explain, which has a cyclical quality. Keep the faith. Even in concentration camps young people fell in love and started a family. Like with the discovery of morphine, you can control pain but you can also become a drug addict. Keeping that balance is difficult. Having been born in this city you see the two things. You get the phenomenal cultural richness, but you also get the bottom feeders. You get the bottom feeders you get anywhere else in the world. Everybody is a human being with a dark shadow. I'm glad I have my Mennonite roots. They have a quilt pattern. Half of it is dark and half of it is light, which has the idea of manipulation of fear. There's a famous line from the witches in Macbeth "but as you know security is mortals chiefest enemy". Every time those politicians talk about security and manipulation, that is all I hear.
What does it add to the story of Toronto?
I think it's a part of the time where people have undergone, stress, threat (manufactured or not), and deprivation. You just get through it. The fundamental value of the society moves through. It gives some faith in human nature. When you're a high school teacher and the kids who go off to war are the same age of the kids you teach.
How did you acquire it?
This story was acquired through family.