Days of Necessity

Back in the teeth of half the nation winter flung an old, unheeded warning. Some people, unconvinced that the inevitable would happen, had not bothered to apply for fuel-oil rations. Some had already used up their quotas. And when winter's first frigid spell dropped thermometers toward the lowest point in 15 years (in Minneapolis) or 60 years (in Detroit) or any recorded year (in Pittsburgh), oil reserves ran dangerously low.

¶ In Boston hundreds of homes and schools had frozen water pipes. Householders who thawed them out caused flooded cellars and—indirectly—more than...

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