Havoc on the Home Front Impacted Christmas

Female Santa of the 1940’s

From: “The Voice of the Angels”, 11th Airborne newspaper, vol. 201

Fewer men at home resulted in fewer men available to dress up and play Santa Claus.  Women served as substitute Santas at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City and at other department stores throughout the United States.

During WWII Christmas trees were in short supply because of lack of manpower to cut the tress down and a shortage of railroad space to ship the trees to market.  Americans rushed to buy American-made Visca artificial trees.  The electric lights that were designed in the 1940’s are still in use today.

Artificial tree in 1942 Sears catalog.

Travel during the holidays was limited for most families due to the rationing of tires and gasoline.  Americans saved up their food ration stamps to provide extra food for a fine holiday meal.

Vintage Christmas

Many ornaments were made with aluminum and tin, a highly rationed item.  As a result, families opted to make their own ornaments.  Magazines provided ideas and patterns especially designed for non-priority war materials, such as paper, string and things found in the backyard.

Popular hand-blown German-made ornaments, as well as exotic Japanese-made ornaments, were thrown away with the outbreak of the war in support of their soldiers.  The Corning Glass Company, out of New York, started to make ornaments in response to this occurrence.

Unsilvered Corning ornaments.

Not only did the population feel better about using American-made decorations, but also Corning could make more ornaments in a minute than it would take a German glass blower in one day.

Vintage tree turner

These 1940’s unsilvered glass Christmas ornaments were made for a less than 3 year period during WWII, when silvering agents were unavailable for consumer products.  The box itself is the earliest Shiny Brite red and tan version.  Many war ornaments had paper caps due to metal shortages.

Some people wanted a snowy look on their trees so their solution was to mix LUX soap powder with water and then brush the branches with the concoction.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Helicopter-reindeer season!

Barbara Haddock Taylor} [Sun Photographer] #9306

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lemuel Apala – Wilson, OK; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt Major

William Bluhm – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps, Bronze Star

“Man at the Wall”

James Bray – Huntsville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

“Tony” Louviere Sr. – Norco, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 101st Airborne Division

Avis McCormick – Auckland, NZ; WRNZNS WREN # 511, WWII

Michael Norelli – Albany, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Dillard Pierce – Louisville, KY; US Army, WWII, Tech 5, 313th Combat Engineer Battalion

Fulton Singleton – Parsonsburg, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Robb Travis – Peoria, AZ; US Navy, WWII, USS Hollandia

Jim Wilson – Corriganville, MD; US Air Force, Vietnam, MSgt., (The Man at the Wall)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 27, 2018, in Home Front, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. The ripple effects of war are so much wider than we realize.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The ingenuity that rationing inspired is truly amazing, GP. Please keep reminding readers that people did make do with a lot less less back then, and got quite creative in the process.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Perhaps there was havoc on the Home Front for Christmas but it provided priceless gifts and opportunities in the art of making do and resilience. I would guess it was important for the morale of the troops to know or believe that their loved ones were having the best Christmas possible.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Like all your posts, this one has evoked strong memories;

    I was just nine when WW II ended so can remember how everything was carefully taken out of wraps each Christmas, and, as carefully, re-wrapped for future use. This remained the ‘norm’ for years afterwards as the habit of squirrelling away for a rainy day persisted into my teens and beyond.

    Many of my friends confess to doing the same, whereas the younger generations, including my children and theirs, have got too used to our present ‘throw-away’ society, but, Deo gratias, are coming round to the concept of conservation, as we all must if our planet is to survive.

    Liked by 3 people

    • My parents instilled in me your “squirreling away” and taking care of your possessions, etc; but I know what you’re saying about the current generation. Their need to rip things out and up-date everything, IMO, they’ll regret it when they get to our age.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Really enjoyed this article. I had no idea how the war impacted the making of ornaments and the celebration of Christmas on the homefront

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Beautiful post, great memories. I miss my childhood’s ornaments. We had the manufactured ones to decorate the Christmas tree, but all the house, inside and outside, was generously decorated with the hand-made stuff :). Wishing you all the best for 2019!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. A lot of things carried over from the War. We used to make our own Christmas Cards, Stinging popcorn was a common tree ornament. No shortage of trees up here in Canada – we cut our own. Made our own tree ornaments too. And people often made/crafted their gifts and presents. And you know what? it was all better because we put our Love into it. Nothing artificial about that.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. It’s fascinating to learn about how WWII affected how people decorated for Christmas. I had never thought about how some ornaments were thrown out – and new ones purchased during the War. I think that I have a Shiny Brite box of ornaments that looks about like the one in the photo – though it’s probably not quite as old as that one.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Wishing you a belated Merry Christmas and on-time Happy new Year, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. With the lack of Santa’s, tree’s, ornament’s…etc. it was a more meaningful Christmas than today when all we seem to focus on are material things. However, not having the men there to celebrate must have been difficult.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. While I wouldn’t have remembered our trees during WW II, G, I’m pretty sure that some of the ornaments I remember from the late 40s and early 50s were of WW II vintage. 🙂 Thanks for the lesson. It was fun. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  12. In tijden van nood komt het beste in mensen naar boven en worden ze ongelooflijk creatief.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We are adaptable when faced with the need to change. My mother still talks with a mixture of pride and resentment of the rationing and deprivation.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Such wonderful ingenuity to make sure that Christmas was as normal as possible for the children!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. What a great variety of information about Christmas during wartime. I just never thought about these things. I still have some glass ornaments from our tree in the 1940s but never heard of putting Lux soap powder on the branches to look like snow. They were innovative people.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Christmas gifts for children were fabricated frequently of wood and often handmade.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Great article. I remember the Corning ornaments on the tree at my grandparents house in the 1960s. I think my parents had a few too. Fascinating to see how they came about.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Wonderful post, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. “Man at the Wall”

    The single most evocative, accurate, powerful statement/image of them all. Ever~!

    (Despite the origin and genius in the genus—a universal.)

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I’m old enough to remember bubble lights, which were my favorite as a kid. As I recall, they lasted for years. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what happened to ours, but I wish I still had them. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Interesting! I did not know that.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Lovely post. Thanks for sharing. I remember the gas shortages of the 70s. Had to plan trips when you could get gas on Saturday because most gas stations were closed on Sunday. Heaven help you if you needed more than one tank to get home.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. This is by far the most interesting Christmas post I’ve read this year. I knew about rationing during the war, but I didn’t know that even Christmas trees and aluminum ornaments were in short supply. I wonder if that is why the glass and aluminum ornaments made such a big comeback in the fifties?

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Enjoyed the information on how Christmas continued in spite of the war.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I liked the idea of the soap powder snow! People have more talent than they know!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Wonderful post. Love the look on the kid’s face while shaking hands with the female Santa. It was admirable that people made do of what was available to enjoy the Christmas season. The Christmas Spirit although somber was always there even during the war.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. You’ve raised memories of two things I’d forgotten: the paper caps on ornaments, and that mixture of Lux soap to make snowy branches. We didn’t use the Lux, but I had a friend whose parents did. And those bubble lights were my grandmother’s favorite. One of the hottest selling nightlights during the Christmas season is a reproduction bubble light that plugs into the wall — and bubbles.

    Despite the losses we all remember at Christmas, it’s still good to celebrate in one way or another. That’s another thing that greatest generation taught us, I suppose.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Necessity is the mother……..

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Festive days like Christmas are always good for a break. During war activities its the only way to get a little bit sparetime too. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Fascinating to read how the war affected every aspect of life even at home—as exemplified by the impact on Christmas. Happy almost New Year, GP!

    Liked by 3 people

  31. I enjoy these nostalgic posts of WWII, GP. The lights on our Christmas tree were similar to the ones you show and the liquid in them “bubbled” when turned on. It was a mesmerizing sight to a child.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Thanks for putting a name to the “man at the wall” – It’s sad to know that he’s gone. Having only ever experienced rationing during the gas shortages in the 70s, I can’t imagine life when just about everything was rationed or simply not available. I think the hardest thing to imagine is people willingly giving up things and making do with substitutes. We just don’t seem to have that spirit today.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Not even war can stop Christmas!

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Christmas in wartime. Doubly poignant, with so many who will never return to see another one.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Great post, GP! I love the photo of the female Santa and the child…so sweet.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Interesting how wartime now takes humanity, and as a result we feel the sacrifice more.

    That picture, “man at the Wall” gets me every time.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Thank you, Maureen.

    Like

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