It was worse than any Christmas rush the department stores had ever seen. From New York City to San Francisco, sales of silk stockings were rationed: usually three pairs to a customer. Guards in uniform were posted to keep order. Customers bought their quota, walked away, then stood in line for hours to buy again. In Denver, women bought $125,000 worth of stockings in two daysenough to provide every woman over 14 in Denver with a pair, at 92¢ apiece.
By week's end, retail stocks were virtually gone. Then the women started in on silk slips and panties, silk socks for their husbands. In the slip department of Manhattan's mammoth R. H. Macy & Co. a sign went up: "Sorry! One to a customer."
Chain stores and specialty shops jumped their prices on silk stockings from 10¢ to 20¢ a pair. Department stores followed suit. Silk men said that their present stocks will last about two months. After that, most women will have to wear cotton stockings or go barelegged. The Department of Agriculture announced that it has developed more than 150 new designs for cotton hose, including a cotton-web mesh for evening wear. The supply of nylon (which many women would rather wear than silk) is limited, will amount to only 40% of the market for full-fashioned hose when Du Pont's present plant expansion is completed next year.
Nylon can be eked out by mixing it with silk and rayon, making feet and tops of other yarns. But women may not like these hybrid stockings. And the Army may soon commandeer nylon too.
> In San Diego, Mrs. Julia Dowell, commander in chief of California's women's ambulance & transport corps, ordered her girls to wear lisle. "There will be no bare legs and no silk stockings in this corps," said Mrs. Dowell.
> A Manhattan shopper bought three dozen pairs of rayon panties. Said the salesgirl: "Do you suppose she thought there was going to be a rayon shortage?" (P.S.: Maybe there is.)
> Arthur Guillaume Berault de St. Maurice expected his business to boom. He is the inventor of a machine that mends runs.
> Said a Manhattan psychologist, Dr. William Moulton Marston: "The most glamorous legs are bare, suntanned. But the most enticing stocking is one of mesh.
. . . The idea of a woman's legs caught in a mesh has great appeal to menbehind bars, captive, you see? . . ."