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Our Christmas in Minneapolis, Minnesota during World War 2 in Minnesota

Updated on November 29, 2014
Aluminum Christmas tree.
Aluminum Christmas tree. | Source
Lyle, my brother. While at Great lakes Naval Training center
Lyle, my brother. While at Great lakes Naval Training center | Source

A Family Christmas


It could be considered a tradition, although a short one, that we usually had Christmas with my aunt and uncle’s family As best I recall we exchanged presents on Christmas Eve with the other familiy and on Christmas morning amongst our immediate family.

My family, which originally came from Minneapolis, lived in Des Moines, Iowa when I was born in 1936. For reasons unclear to me, we moved back to Minneapolis when I was six years old. Since I understand dad had a good job and opportunity to buy into the firm in Des Moines. Apparently my mother was lonely for relatives. They found housing was scarce, and there was some sort of delay in our furniture being delivered.

As a result we ended up staying at my aunt and uncles place for a while, which was the lower half of a two family house. . I had five cousins but I don’t remember how many were there that day since two of them were in the armed services. There were four children in our family and I was the youngest by seven years. My oldest brother was in the Navy and I don’t recall if he was there.

While we stayed there I amused myself with reading stuff like the Joe and Willie cartoon books by Bill Mauldin that were popular with servicemen then and were abundant in the house. But with such a crowded household tensions were getting pretty bad, I believe, and Dad made a deal on the house that we lived in until I was in about the tenth grade in school. It was about six blocks from my uncles.

The Chritsmas I remember

One Christmas Eve sticks in my mind. I don’t remember the exact year but I was about eight years old and it would have been around 1944. The Second World War was still going on. Gasoline was rationed, cigarettes were rationed, sugar was rationed it seems like everything was rationed or controlled. What this has to do with Christmas? Well, with sugar being rationed cakes; cookies and candy were scarcer than people today would believe. Gasoline being rationed meant that people had their holidays near home.

Christmas tree

I seem to remember their having an unusual Christmas tree. I have for a long time thought it must have been an aluminum tree but I found that hey were not manufactured until several years later. I think it might have been something called “angel hair” which was made of spun glass.

Mother and dad  a bit younger than at the time.
Mother and dad a bit younger than at the time.

approximate location of my uncles house

A marker2200 Central ave ne, Minneapolis Minnesota -
2200 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418, USA
get directions

Christmas packages for servicemen


Mothers and wives of servicemen sent packages to husbands, sons and daughters in the services. On Christmas mother sent homemade cookies and candies to my brother. In fact I think we all contributed things to send.

Pack of camel cigarettes
Pack of camel cigarettes | Source
Divinity candy:not homemade
Divinity candy:not homemade | Source

World war 2 in Minnesota

World War 2 in Minnesota was like it was other places with loved ones overseas. Sometimes they made it home for the holidays. Christmas provided lighter moments for some of us.

The Christmas Prank

My aunt and my father both seemed to share a sense of humor not necessarily shared by their spouses. My aunt laughed at postcards that had what my mother would consider inappropriate humor. Like my mother she was French but they had quite different personalities. My mother was extremely Victorian and my aunt could be rather ribald, as I recall. My aunt smoked whereas my mother thought it inappropriate for women to smoke. Whatever the case, practical jokes seemed to be a part of the relationship between date and my aunt.

On this particular Christmas, I remember Dad finding and old wooden box, under the basement stirs. It was dusty and filthy. The box was about 3’ long x 2’ wide and 2’ deep. As I recall. He took a pack of cigarettes and pounded nails all around it on the bottom of the box. I also remember his taking some Divinity candy, which was white sugary and homemade. This he scattered around the bottom of the box. Both the cigarettes and the candy were somewhat scarce because of rationing. What else there was, I don’t recall. He covered the box so it took some effort to open it.

I don’t think anyone was too surprised that Dad did this since such pranks seemed to be a tradition with them. I believe my aunt was expecting a gag but did not know what it was. When she saw the cigarettes at the bottom, she started to tear the wrapping off the pack. And exclaimed  “I’m going to be damn sure there are cigarettes in there before I pull all those nails out.”

 

When my sister got married a few years later, we started having holidays with her and her husband or her in-law. When my father died in the early fifties things were quite different, but tIn the years when I was between seven and twelve-year s old we usually went to my aunt and uncles place which was the lower half of a two family house about six blocks away from our own house in Northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota this was the Christmas that seems the most memorable.

 

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    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting , Moonlake. It is too bad that train travel ha just about disappeared. Many of my wifes family were RR workers. Thanks for the vote and shares.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      I remember the days on the floor in front of the radio. I remember being on a train going from Arkansas to California my mother was tired with 4 kids. I was a night owl wide awake. There were two military couples on the train and they took me with them and kept me entertained so I wouldn't wake the other kids and mother could get some sleep. I never forgot the way the young couples looked. I also ended up in the ladies dressing room sleeping and women would come in and cover me up.

      I enjoyed your hub and your memories. Voted up and shared.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Sophia,Thanks for the additional comment.Much of what you mention I have to plead ignorance.I don't know much about contracts back then.Nor do I know how long a letter took,I don't think I really cared. I do recall we got mail twice a day.Letter writing was pretty informal outside of business.However, that might have been a matter of social class. Transportation when I grew up was first by Streetcar which were replaced by buses later. Trains and buses were for longer trips. miss both.

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 5 years ago

      Daho, I grew up without TV because it was forbidden in SA. We also handwrote letters. We made arrangements a week in advance and it was the greatest sin on earth to let another human being down. Agreements were made on a handshake and people honored the agreements. Contracts were two pages long because nobody would dream of taking advantage of them. The post took a day to deliver no matter which part of the country it came from. Public transport was excellent. Trains were everywhere. I loved trains. Electricity and phones were inexpensive because they were government run (That, of course, is a big no-no today.)

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Sophia. It was a different time.We lived close to a neighborhood shopping area and many of the storekeepers lived in the neighborhood. Sort of like a small town. Cars were not as fast, TV had not become known for a few years, people hand wrote letters. A world my grandchildren probably not understand.

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 5 years ago

      Daho, somehow you made me feel the sentiment of my own childhood. I'm somewhat behind you as I wasn't yet born during WWII. Yet, I grew up in time when it was still fresh in the minds of all so your memories stirred up my memories too. It's good to remember. :)

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      randslam,thanks for commenting.My fathers prank always stuck in my mind because I watched him prepare the whole thing.I was fascinated.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 5 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      Nice write, dahoglund. I spent many years in Minnesota and Christmas with family was always the best. Thanks for the prank story...that was the gem...the fruitcake for dessert.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      2patricias, thanks for reading and commenting.Some of those popular things like angel hair just seeded to make a mess of the tree. It seemed easier to get families together than.

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 5 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      This has brought back some memories, but of the 1950's, not the 40's.

      I remember angel hair as a tree decoration. It was on our neighbour's Christmas tree. My mother wouldn't have it, as she said it could harm the dog. The dog often knocked over the Christmas tree, but he was my mother's favourite.

      Looking back, that could be because the dog didn't talk back.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I appreciate your comment.I guess everyone has memories that are in some ways different than others.

    • daydreamer13 profile image

      daydreamer13 6 years ago

      Wow! This was so fun to read and take a look into your world! Thanks for sharing this!

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      You are right about cars being in short supple. I believe that there were no cars built for the domestic market for several years. I also remember that there was a meatless Tuesday. voluntary I think. Nylons I remember from movies that they were scarce.Thanks for commenting and the compliment about my parents..

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I also remember my mother telling me tales about the rationing, etc. And yes...the entire country supported our soldiers in uniform! People were happy to go meatless one or more days of the week so that our soldiers could be fed meat, etc. Meat and nylons were also rationed along with the things you mentioned. Besides housing, cars were also in short supply.

      Thanks for sharing your memories. You had some handsome parents!

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading and commenting on it.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      I enjoyed reading this Christmas story about your family.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you very much for reading this and leaving a comment.The whole society at that time felt a bond with the service people.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      This is a great hub! I really enjoyed the stories and hearing about the traditions. The special packages for servicemen and women is an excellent idea then and now as well. Thanks for sharing.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I appreciate the observation. Probably families were more closse back then and depended on each other more. I appreciate the comment.

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors

      This story about your family's Christmas has a strong sense of family unity and togetherness!

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I appreciate your comments and good words.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Thanks for share your Christmas time with your family. That's must be a wonderful moment. Old memories is always nice to remember. Very well written. I give my Vote special for you. Take care

      Prasetio:)

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting. I don't know if I felt any adversity although even kids knew about the war and rationing. The rest of the family might have suffered more, certainly inconvenience in finding housing.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Very nice hub. Its good that you have those fond memories of your past, even amid adversity such as war and rationing.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for reading this and commenting. It's odd the things a young child remebers.

    • sagebrush_mama profile image

      sagebrush_mama 6 years ago from The Shadow of Death Valley...Snow Covered Mountain Views Abound!

      Thank you for such a great view of holidays in this era. I loved to hear my Grandma tell stories of my Dad's childhood, and the rationing was one of those I recall...much of the way she celebrated holidays and gave gifts had roots in the shortages of the depression and later, the war.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thank you for the encouraging comment. I was such an age then that I probably didn't understand all that was happening so it is my impressions.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 6 years ago from France

      It was a pleasure to read this hub. It is always amazing to see how people lived in other times and how much things have changed since then. Thanks for sharing your family memories with us!

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks you for your kind comment. When the war ended and rationing ended the country went on a boom but it took awhile.

    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image

      Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      This was a wonderful read. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your life with us all. It is hard to comprehend what it must have been like with all that rationing, but somehow, I think we will all soon find out.

      Have a blessed day dahoglund!!!

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for your visit as always. and thanks for commenting.

    • eovery profile image

      eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      Oh, the good ole days.

      Keep on hubbing!