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Christmas on the Home Front

 

i'll be home for christmas poster wartime 1940s tisha martin author editorIn 1943, the war was two years old; however, across the U.S., many homes were torn apart as fathers, brothers, uncles, and sweethearts and friends were drafted. For the duration, homes would be empty of loved ones during the holidays. To boost morale, Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” became the favorite Christmas song for the duration of the war. And for a handful of families who lived in Lincoln, Illinois, during World War Two, Bing’s song kept the home fires burning within the hearts of the small town of Lincoln’s wives and children.

Logan County Citizen Soldiers WWII newspaper photo tisha martin author editor

Logan County, Lincoln, Illinois, Citizen Soldiers in WWII.

In January 1944, a handful of men (“fathers and non-fathers,” Lincoln Illinois’ newspaper The Lincoln Courier put it) volunteered or were drafted. This group was the first citizen draft group to leave Lincoln and serve their country. Three men volunteered and seven fathers enlisted that bitter January, including Jim Adams, my main character Laurie’s father, from my WWII novel-in-progress.

wartime battle of bulge christmas 1944 tisha martin author editorSome of these men would experience landing on the beaches of Normandy in June 1944, or trudge through the harrowing Battle of the Bulge in Winter 1944.

While the men spent Christmas on the war front, the families celebrated a quiet Christmas on the home front, and even though there weren’t many presents under the tinsel tree, ration stamps had been saved up to purchase sweets and extra food for the holiday season.

santa_claus_christmas_overseas_gifts_poster-r59b50c844ae64cf3bc9ef70c0e7c1e07_aiqqc_8byvr_512Decorating for Christmas involved the idea of simplicity, mostly out of necessity because it gave families something to do together. Children would write Christmas cards to make Dad feel like part of the festivities. Mom and kids would send Dad large care packages, filled with cards, candies (M&Ms), cookies, pictures, and other treats.

Here are a few facts about the holidays on the home front during WWII:

  • Because all the men were off to war, there was no manpower to cut down the lush Christmas trees, and there was not room on the railroad cars to ship them to tree farms. Did that stop anyone from getting a tree? No. Americans rushed to buy American-made Visca artificial trees for seventy-five cents.
  • As if there wasn’t enough snow outside, Americans brought the snow inside. They mixed a box of Lux soap powder with two cups of water and brushed the concoction on the branches of their tree to give it a snow-covered appeal.
  • As soon as the war began, many Americans threw their German blown-glass ornaments and exotic Japanese ornaments in the trash. Soon, Corning Glass Company in New York produced Christmas tree balls using machines designed to produce light bulbs. Thus, came the Shiny Brite ornaments and other ornaments.
  • However, if Americans could not purchase new ornaments, the made do with what they had by making their own ornaments out of non-priority war items, such as paper, string, pine cones, or nuts. The shortage of materials—like aluminum and tin—used to produce ornaments led many people to make their own ornaments at home.
  • Electric bubble lights were created during the 1940s and are still popular.
  • July 1945, the film “Christmas in Connecticut” was released, and the song “Let It Snow” hit the charts.
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Interview with Cynthia Roemer and Under Moonlit Skies Characters

 

I’m thrilled to have back to the blog my dear friend, Cynthia Roemer, author of historical prairie romances. Cynthia’s third book in the Prairie Skies series is coming out soon! And she’d love to share her book hero and heroine with you . . . interview style.

Here’s the blurb to get you started:

UNDER MOONLIT SKIES (Prairie Sky Series ~ Book 3)

Her life was planned out ~ until he rode in ~

Illinois prairie ~ 1859

After four long years away, Esther Stanton returns to the prairie to care for her sister Charlotte’s family following the birth of her second child. The month-long stay seems much too short as Esther becomes acquainted with her brother-in-law’s new ranch hand, Stewart Brant. When obligations compel her to return to Cincinnati and to the man her overbearing mother intends her to wed, she loses hope of ever knowing true happiness.

Still reeling from a hurtful relationship, Stew is reluctant to open his heart to Esther. But when he faces a life-threatening injury with Esther tending him, their bond deepens. Heartbroken when she leaves, he sets out after her and inadvertently stumbles across an illegal slave-trade operation, the knowledge of which puts him, as well as Esther and her family, in jeopardy.

I love that! I know you did some fun research for this book. What’s your favorite historical place you’ve researched, and why?

I truly enjoyed my trip to the First National Road Museum in Vandalia, IL.  I live only an hour and a half away from it and never knew it existed until I started researching. My heroine in Under Moonlit Skies lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I needed a route from there to Illinois that existed when the novel is set in 1859. The First National Road, also known as the Cumberland Road, made the perfect route for my characters to travel.

What is the heroine’s greatest asset, and why?

Esther Stanton’s greatest asset would likely be her kind heart. She is caring and nurturing in nature, so unlike her older sister, Charlotte, who readers met in the first two books in the series. Unfortunately, Esther’s thoughtfulness toward others is also her biggest impairment as readers of Under Moonlit Skies will soon discover.

That’s an interesting twist! Looking forward to reading about Esther. What is her greatest fear, and why?

Esther’s greatest fear is missing out on the happy life she hoped to have marrying for love and living on the prairie. As the “obedient” daughter, she feels duty-bound to look after her overbearing mother, sacrificing her wants to please her mother.

How do both Esther’s asset and greatest fear tie into what you hope the reader comes away with?

Well, without giving away any spoilers, Esther eventually does find her voice and embraces what the Lord has in store for her future and her happiness. Through Esther, I want readers to see how the Lord longs to shower us with blessings, if we will only entrust our lives to Him.

What is the hero’s greatest quality, and why?

Stewart Brant is such a good-natured, easy-going guy. As Esther put it, “He’s the type of guy who would give the shirt off his back to help someone.” The name Stewart (Stew) is derived from one of my favorite actors Jimmy Stewart. Stew is also tall and lanky and has much of the same laidback personality as Jimmy. I just love them both! LOL!

Great actor-character inspiration! Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite actors too. What is the hero’s greatest weakness, and why?

Due to past hurts, lack of funds and schooling, Stew feels inferior, like he’ll never measure up or be good enough. He struggles with comparing himself to others and always finds himself on the short end of the stick.

I can understand Stew’s feelings. I’m looking forward to seeing how Esther brings out the best in him! How do both Stew’s quality and weakness tie into what you hope the reader comes away with?

In the end, Stew discovers his true worth comes not from outward appearances or abilities, but from having a heart for the Lord. Through Stew, I want readers to experience how God views us—as His beloved children made in His image.

Thanks for telling us about your hero and heroine, Cynthia! And it’s been a pleasure having you on the blog today.

The Book Info — aren’t these covers stunning??

 

Under Moonlit Skies is the third book in the Prairie Skies series. Preorders going on now…

You can click on any of the pre-order link below to find out more information about Under Moonlit Skies or any of the other links to check out previous books, if Cynthia is a new-to-you author!

About Cynthia Roemer

Newspaper photo Book 2 - Copy (2)Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Amazon Best-Seller Under This Same Sky, Under Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies, due to release September 10, 2019. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of twenty-five years and two college-aged sons. Visit Cynthia online at: www.cynthiaroemer.com.

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

Website:  https://cynthiaroemer.com/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer
Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Cynthia’s Books on Amazon:

Under Moonlit Skies, click here.

Under This Same Sky, click here.

Under Prairie Skies, click here.

Answer the question in the comments:

Who is your favorite actor?

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Vintage Lane: 1940

Howard and Dean, Sept 2, 1940My grandpa and his brother grew up in Illinois during the Depression. They experienced and knew hardship but they also knew how to have fun and work hard. Once, they rode their bikes from Pontiac to Springfield to work for a lady who lived on a hill. Later, when they grew up, Grandpa served in the military during peacetime in the ’60s and Uncle Howard competed in bicycle races.

What memory lane stories do you have of your relatives?

Photo Credit: personal archives