Keeping it Real
As I work on my novels, I try to get my hands-on information that’s pertinent, fun, but above all, accurate. The Internet is great, generally. Google and Bing.com and other resources have directed me to some wonderful, boots-on-the-ground type sites when it comes to locations, dates, battle names, etc. But finding information about Stateside war times is not so easy.
In this little article, I wanted to share what my characters might have expected to find under the tree on Christmas 1943. Common sense led me to the conclusion that children would not see metal cars or trains, and certainly no classic Erector Sets or new bicycles. Not that it would fit under the average tree, but neither Mother nor Dad would be expecting, or receiving in any case, any type of automobile, unless it was Grandfather’s Model A, dusted off from the garage. Even then, it might be looked upon eagerly by locals as an excellent donation toward the municipal metal collection.
What I Found Out
But what did they find under their tree? At length it came to me that one of my beloved Facebook Groups, America In the 1940s, might be able to help out. Aside from many genuine witnesses in that group, there were also researchers and relatives who were willing to share the precise first-hand knowledge I was seeking. I decided to make it easier to respond by setting up a poll in which I suggested: baked goods, toys, crafted or purchased, housewares like blankets or rugs, clothing, coins or cash, or other. If a responder checked “other,” I asked if they would mind making notes in a response, which some kindly did. I had guessed that baked goods would be the most likely gift, and that was actually the case!
|Toy-crafted or purchased||10%|
What did I miss?
One fellow was particularly helpful, and included recollection of: cartons of cigarettes, which were often decorated for the holiday, including a “Flat Fifty,” a tin of 50 cigarettes. Another was whiskey, also decorated for Christmas and gifted in “fifth”s. A woman remember socks, and hair ribbons, in all different and pretty colors. Another described edible gifts that were elegant and pretty as well as tasty. They may have been the precursors to the classic Hershey Kisses Christmas Tree and the stars carved out of cheese.
Capturing some of the World War II period in my stories has been a wonderful experience because the research in general has been so plentiful. Discovering what Santa might bring was even more fun because it allowed me to connect with some folks who were there—what better resource could one have!
Cece Whittaker is author of The Call to Serve (book 1 in the Serve Series), a heartwarming, romantic, and historically accurate novel of fictitious Joan, Annie, Bernice, and Helen in New Jersey, and their men overseas during World War II. Book 2, Love in the Victory Garden will be released in October. She can be reached via https://www.cecewhittakerstories.com.