War took the word "rubber"' out of the U.S. language last week. All the gold in Fort Knox (some $14,500,000,000) could not bring enough rubber from the Jap-infested Far East to satisfy the U.S. demand (50,000 tons a month). Price Boss Leon Henderson ruled that the nation's "average" motoristsincluding traveling salesmen, taxi drivers, and isolated countrysiders without other means of transportationmay not buy new tires. Only exemptions: medicos and their aides, ambulances, fire fighters, police services, garbage trucks, mail trucks, public busses carrying at least ten persons, ice-&-fuel delivery, farm tractors, industrial, mining and construction equipment.
Tires use up about 75% of U.S. rubber stocks. The other 25% has gone into 50,000 different civilian uses.* For U.S. women: no more elastic girdles and foundation garments. For children: no more teething rings, rubber rattles, bathtub toys. Circuses and parades will suffer: no more rubber balloons, no more giant rubber figures. Toy airplanes, automobiles, tricycles, scooters will no longer be rubber-tired.
In business: no more pencil erasers, typewriter erasers, rubber bands (the U.S. uses some 30,000,000,000 bands a year). Stockings and underpants will draggle down minus garters, stocking tops, elastic waist bands. Feet will get wet: fewer galoshes, boots, rubbers. Relaxation will be harder: no more foamed rubber latex auto cushions, Pullman cushions, home and hospital mattresses. Hair will be stringier on next year's beaches: no more bathing caps (last year: 11,500,000); and no more rubber bathing suits.
For Hollywood, fewer props for horror pictures: no more rubber for prehistoric monsters, masks, cobwebs (for haunted houses), fake alligators, fake snakes.
For the Army, more bumps: substitutes may have to be devised for the foamed latex cushions in tanks, crash pads in airplanes, and parachute seats. Football and basketball bladders had gone the way of golf, tennis, squash and handballs (TIME, Dec. 29).
The U.S. male, his pants and socks dragging, his sports ruined, his wife bulging in the wrong places, his balloonless children teething on wood, his car tireless in the garage, riding off to work on a hard-benched bus or subway, unable to erase mistakes, or snap a band around them, could now really get down to hating Japan and the Axis.
*Notable exceptions to the rubber ban: hospital utensils, contraceptives.