75 Years Ago in Review

The end of the year is often a time for reflection and looking hopefully forward to a new year.  75 years ago, as the end of the year approached, people were reflecting on the great conflict that their country was embroiled in.  In the midst of World War II people were focused on the victories, the losses, the gains, and the sacrifices made.  The December 31st edition of the Shakopee Argus-Tribune provides us with a list of significant events of 1942 to help us reflect on our past.  As we reflect on the passing of 2017 let us also take a look at what weighed most significantly on the minds of Americans in 1942.

Information was added to help clarify some of the details listed in the paper.  It should also be noted that the information presented by the paper does not always match more recent reporting of these events.

Events of World War II
January
1st– Hitler takes command of retreating Nazi army on Moscow front.
2nd– Japanese forces take control of naval bases in the Philippine cities of Manila and Cavite.
11th– Japan invades the Netherlands East Indies.
12th– Japan invades the Dutch East Indies
19th– Japan takes the port at Burma, present day Myanmar.
23rd– Australia calls on the U. S. to help fend off Japanese forces.
25th– Dutch and American forces take 33 Japanese ships in the Makassar strait.
26th– American Expeditionary Forces land in North Ireland.
31st– Malaya falls and Japan drives forward into Singapore.

February
3rd– Nazis rush air and tank reinforcements to the battlefront in southern Russia.
4th– American Expeditionary Force gives aid to the Far East Allies in the Asiatic-Pacific theatre.
6th– A key oil town in Borneo, an island in Asia, is captured by Japan.
13th– Hitler’s fleet escapes from Brest, Belarus and retreats to Kiel, Germany.
15th– Singapore falls to Japan.
16th– Dutch forces destroy 100 million dollar oil fields on the island of Sumatra.
19th– Japan drops first bombs on Darwin, Australia. The Battle of Darwin was Japan’s largest attack since Pearl Harbor and was the largest single attack made on Australia by a foreign power.
20th– Japanese forces land on Timor Island.
21st– A Dutch and American air fleet launches an attack on Japanese ships either causing damage to or sinking 19.
28th– British parachutists and Commandos invade a radar array in northern France.

March
1st– The Japanese 2nd Division unloads 50 transports at Merak, Java where they are invading.
3rd– Archibald Wavell is dropped as the chieftain of the Allied forces.
7th– Japan invades New Guinea at two sectors, the regions of Lae and Salamau.
14th– American forces land in Australia.
17th– MacArthur and aides escape from Philipines, where they were surrounded by Japanese forces, and land in Australia.
19th– A Japanese invasion fleet headed to Australia is defeated by American forces.
25th– U. S. Navy raids Makin island, a Japanese seaplane base and Japan’s easternmost line of defense.
27th– Chinese destroy a trap in Burma relieving British forces.
29th– British Commandos wreck a Nazi-held St. Nazaire port.

April
1st– Hand-to-hand combat with Japanese forces occurs in Bataan.
4th– U. S. Navy admits that three warships were sunk by Japanese planes.
8th– Axis desert forces move against British forces in Libya.
9th– Bataan falls. 36,000 U. S. soldiers are taken prisoner.
10th– British-Indian self-rule parley collapses.
13th– Pierre Laval named vice premier of France.
16th– Royal Air Force blitz on German industrial centers goes into its fifth day.
18th– Tokyo bombed by U. S. Air Force, referred to as the Doolittle Raid.
22nd– Commandos raid France at Boulogne and rout the Nazis.
30th– Royal Air Force bombs Paris industries.

Airplane

May
1st– Hitler and Mussolini meet at Salzburg with the focus of discussion being Germany’s campaign against Russia. Japan is not included in the meeting.
5th– British forces backed by U. S. forces occupy Madagascar in order to prevent Japan capturing Madagascar’s ports and to protect Allied shipping lines.
6th– The island of Corregidor, in the Philippines, falls to Japanese forces. 7,000 U. S. troops surrender.
8th– U. S. forces sink 13 Japanese warships in the southwest Pacific.
25th– Allied planes sink an Axis submarine off the coast of Brazil.
27th– Nazis launch an attack on Gazala, Libya in an effort to capture Tobruk.

June
1st– Nazis are trapped in a Libyan desert. Japanese submarines are sunk in Sydney harbor.
2nd– Nazi industrial city of Essen “smashed” by 1,000 Royal Air Force planes.  According to the World War II Database website, the damage dealt by this attack was not significant.
4th– The naval operating base and U. S. Army base at Dutch Harbor in Unalaska, Alaska is bombed twice by Japan.
5th– Japanese forces attack Midway island.
6th– The U. S. Navy smashes the Japanese fleet at Midway Island.
10th– British announce 183,550 casualties during first two years of war ending September 2, 1941 including 48,973 killed and 46,363 wounded.
12th– Japanese forces land in the Aleutian Islands at Kiska Harbor.
21st– Tobruk, a British stronghold held since January 22, 1941 surrenders to Nazi desert fighters.
25th– Nazi General Erwin Rommel drives 60 miles into Egypt; British abandon the Egyptian cities of Solum and Sidi Omar.

July
1st– Germans capture Sevastopol after eight-month, 25-day siege.
6th– U. S. made General Grant tanks battle Nazis in African war.
8th– Nazi 35,000-ton ship Tirpitz, torpedoed twice by Soviet submarines.
16th– Soviets place German losses for period, May 15-July 15, at 900,000 men. Germany admits their own losses as 399,000 killed in action.
19th– German drive eastward to Stalingrad and southeastward to Rostov slowed by Soviets. Royal Air Force and Russia both bomb the Vulkan submarine yard in Berlin. Most bombs miss their targets.
23rd– One of the largest U. S. convoys to cross the Atlantic reaches North Ireland.
26th– U. S. pilots in action over France, flying British Spitfires. One American-piloted Spitfire shot down by Nazis.
27th-Russian admit Rostov, Gateway to Caucasus, falls after evacuation of troops.
31st– According to U. S. Naval official, 10,000 Japanese soldiers stationed in the Aleutian Islands.

August
10th– Marines land in the Solomon Islands where Japan was building naval and air bases. U. S. Navy raids Japanese positions at Kiska in the Aleutian Islands.
14th– German military begins march on Stalingrad.
19th– Ten thousand Allied troops, mostly Canadians, supported by British Commandos and a few score U. S. Rangers raid Dieppe, France, for nine hours. Casualties heavy on both sides. Overhead 1,000 British planes engage the enemy.
21st– Japanese forces attempt to retake Solomon Island positions but are repelled by U. S. marines.
22nd– Fifteen Jugoslavian guerrilla planes bomb Axis garrison and Nazi troop columns west of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.

September
3rd– U. S. pilots down German Focke-Wulf bomber near Iceland, report U. S. military authorities.
4th– Lieutenant General Joseph Stilwell’s headquarters in Chungking announces that bomb loaded U. S. fighters hit Japanese forces in five different Chinese zones.
6th– Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Axis forces begin retreating. Allies bomb Axis African sectors.
9th– All 1,600 passengers and crew members saved when 24,289-ton U. S. navy transport Wakefield (formerly luxury liner Manhattan) swept by fire at sea. Wakefield saved and brought to Atlantic port by tugs.
13th– House to house, see-saw battle between Nazis and Russians in progress at Stalingrad.
14th– New type Nazi stratosphere bomber reported flying over England on reconnaissance flights at 40,000 feet.
16th– U. S. 19,900-ton carrier Yorktown reported sunk on June 7 during the Battle of Midway. Vichy French officers reject armistice terms offered by British occupying Madagascar.
23rd– Tobruk attacked from sea while British mobile units raid Axis African positions 500 miles behind lines.

October
3rd– U. S. Army troops, supported by the Navy, occupy Andreanof group of the Aleutian Islands, between Japan held Kiska and Alaskan Dutch Harbor.
17th– A large force of U. S. troops arrive in the Republic of Liberia.
20th– Total of 530 Axis submarines announced destroyed by British and U. S. Navies since the war began.
23rd– Japanese mining installations in North China bombed by U. S. planes in successful attack.
24th– British start African campaign to drive Axis out of continent.
25th– First U. S. air raid on Hong Kong destroys docks and railroad yards in the region of Kowloon.
26th– Naval officials announce that aircraft carrier, Wasp, sunk off Solomon Islands on September 15. Serious fighting continues on Guadalcanal with heavy Japanese losses. Guadalcanal is an area Japanese forces attempted to claim in order to limit Allied forces supplies and communication.

November
1st– U. S. Army troops reinforce marines on Guadalcanal. Australian and American forces push Japan back on New Guinea. U. S. air force bombs Japanese forces daily on Aleutian Kiska.
7th– U. S. troops land in French Africa (French Morocco, Algeria) under commander-in-chief Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower to forestall successful Axis invasion which would endanger America.
8th– Vichy French government breaks relations with U. S. for first time since 1778. Nazis retreat to Libyan border.
11th– Axis forces invade unoccupied France; Italians also land on Corsica. Under orders from Admiral Jean Francois Darlan French, North Africa surrenders to U. S. troops. Tunisia continues fighting.
12th– Second naval battle of Solomon Islands begins.
13th– French garrisons in Tunisia reported battling Axis forces landing by sea and air. Admiral Jean Darlan assumes responsibility for French interests in Africa.
16th– U. S. naval authorities announce crushing defeat of Japanese navy in second naval battle of Solomons: 23 ships sunk, 7 damaged, with enemy casualties near the 40,000 mark.
18th– Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, former prime minister of France, appoints Pierre Laval dictator of Nazi-occupied France.
24th– Russian offensive smashes across Don River, Germans lose 50,000 men in pincer dive.
27th– French scuttle fleet at Toulon, 62 ships sent to bottom of harbor to avoid seizure by Hitler.
29th– Prime Minister Churchill appeals, via radio, to Italian people to overthrow their dictator, sue for peace.

December
1st– Russia continues to advance in two large-scale offensives. Allied parachutists seize airfield near Tunis.
2nd– U. S. push German forces to the sea in Tunisia. Admiral Jean Darlan assumes African rule in Henri-Philippe Petain’s name.
5th– Pearl Harbor disaster reviewed: 10 ships, floating drydock sunk or damaged; 247 planes destroyed or disabled; 4,575 casualties.
7th– Office of War Information reveals 53,307 casualties in first year of war.
14th– Nazis retreat from stronghold at El Agheila in Libya after a battle with forces from the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
15th– U. S. troops capture Buna from the Japanese, following the fall of Gona, in New Guinea.
17th– Units of Erwin Rommel’s Nazi forces retreating from El Agheila cut off by British in Libya.

DOMESTIC
January
1st– Sales of new cars banned pending rationing.
5th– Congress reconvenes to discuss the war. In this session Congress discussed methods of raising money for the war effort, lowering the draft age, providing support to dependents of soldiers, and expanding the power of the President for emergency situations.
6th– War draft of 1942 announced.
10th– Industrialists protest automobile labor-management plan, rejected.
11th– Office of Personnel Management orders halt in private home building.
14th– Donald Nelson, now chief of all war production. He helped to convert commercial production factories into war time factories and identify ways for the military to save money on its materials.
16th– Sumner Welles asks for a Pan-American anti-Axis front at Rio.
19th– Roosevelt asks congress for another 28 ½ billion dollars.
21st– Office of Personnel Management abolished by Donald Nelson.
22nd– South American anti-Axis compact completed.
28th– Nation told 80 Nazi U-boats off East coast.
30th– Price control bill passes. President Franklin Roosevelt’s 60th birthday.

Buy War Bonds

February
4th– Congress working on loans to China.
5th– Giant Japanese spy ring disclosed on West coast.
10th– House kills so-called “frivolity” in Office of Civilian Defense. The Office of Civilian Defense was intended to help protect civilians, maintain morale, and promote civilian involvement in defense.
16th– U. S. registers nine million more for draft.
25th– Two waves of planes seen over Los Angeles causing an immediate blackout. Anti-air weaponry opened fire over the period of a few hours. This event was later determined to be a false alarm after finding no evidence of an attempted enemy air raid.
28th– Bill to end 40-hour week defeated.

March
2nd– Automobile rationing begins. Automobile production was often halted and sales were limited to priority cases.
3rd– Army air force now an equal branch of army. The Army Air Force was put under its own control instead of being under the control of the Army Field Forces.

6th– All new and used typewriter sales are halted.
8th– Supreme command of all U. S. naval operations given to Admiral Ernest King.
11th– U. S. fixes used tire price.
12th– House farm bloc kills sub-parity bill.
13th– First wartime lottery since 1918.
24th– U. S. takes over strike-bound Toledo, Peoria and Western railroad. After refusing to let The United States District Court arbitrate on a strike, Franklin Roosevelt seized the railroad from Peoria and Western through executive order.
25th– Charles Lindbergh offered position in Henry Ford’s bomber plant.
27th– U. S. unifies command to end U-boat menace.

April
1st– Senate defeats ban on 40 hour week.
2nd– All bicycle sales halted.
7th– Plan to halt production of most durable goods.
23rd– Sugar for restaurants and other food services cut by 50 percent.
24th– U. S. opens sedition quiz of suspects. Suspects were brought in and interrogated to determine if they were guilty of sedition.
27th– Thirteen million sign labor questionnaire.
30th– Report three Nazi bids for peace since first of year.

May
1st– Plans to draft women for war service temporarily abandoned.
2nd– Director of Defense Transportation, Joseph B. Eastman, announces
restriction of competing train and bus service.
4th– National sugar registration for ration books begins, first of four days.
12th– House passes (102-40) increase in pay to $50 for army and marine privates, navy and coast guard apprentice seamen.
16th– Earl Browder, former secretary of the American Communist party, has four-year federal sentence commuted to 14 months already served.
19th– East coast gas rationing to be put on national scale, Roosevelt hints.
26th– Commercial air service for 25 cities, 21 routes, curtailed by Civil Aeronautics board.
27th– Total of 13,600 women apply as candidates for officer’s training school of the Women’s Army Auxiliary corps: WAACs.
28th– On the grounds he is a Communist party member, Harry Bridges, Australian born West coast Congress of Industrial Organizations leader, order deported by Attorney General Francis Biddle.

June
1st– First eastern statewide surprise blackout held in New Jersey. Blackout drills were done in order to prepare civilians for air raids.
7th– Virtually entire Japanese population of West coast (99,770) moved inland.
9th– William Dudley Pelley, a member of the para-military American fascist organization called the “Silver Shirts”, indicted on charges of sedition by Indianapolis, Indiana grand jury.
18th– Prime Minister Churchill makes third visit with the President of the United States, at Capitol.
23rd– Genealogy magazine editor reveals President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are eighth cousins, once removed- both descended from Mayflower passenger John Cooke.
26th– Naval expansion bill of over 8 ½ billion dollars passed by senate for 1,900,000 tons of ships.
27th– Eight highly trained Nazi saboteurs caught by FBI. Four landed on beach in Florida, other four landed on Long Island. Nazi sub used in operations. Long Island landing effected on June 13, Florida landing on June 17.

July
1st– Navy’s giant 70-ton patrol bomber, Mars, makes official tests over Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
8th– Seven-man military commission, appointed by President, begins secret trial of eight Nazi saboteurs in Washington.
10th– Elmer Dais, director of the new Office of War Information, names new assistants, says OWI shall try to give American people an accurate picture of nation’s war activities.
17th– Super-powered troop carrier command announced by Lieutenant General Henry H. Arnold, chief of army air forces.
29th– Henry Ford urges world federation after present war to prevent another “more terrible conflict.”

August
1st– Local police and FBI agents round more than 80 Japanese, Nazis and Italians in New York city and Philadelphia.
2nd– Charles Lindbergh testifies at sedition trial of William Dudley Pelley, Indianapolis.
8th– Six of eight Nazi saboteurs executed in the electric chair at Washington, D. C. Two others (who turned over state’s evidence) sentenced to prison.
14th– Commemorating first anniversary of Atlantic Charter President sends message to Churchill reaffirming principles for a happier world.
19th– James Bennett Jr., attorney general of New York defeats White House favorite Senator James M. Mead for Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
25th– Pending stabilization of farm prices and wages at present level hinted by the President during press conference.

September
2nd– John McCloy, assistant secretary of war, says 500,000 American fighting men and technicians are now abroad.
10th– Creation of Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying command, headed by Nancy Harkness Love, announced by war department.
13th– Selective Service Director Major General Hershey says married men with children face draft in 1943.
21st– War Production Board Chairman Donald Nelson forecasts great civilian economy to win war. Japanese sponsored disobedience program in Chicago broken up by FBI.

October
1st– President Roosevelt ends two-week, secret circle trip of nation.
3rd– Office of Economic Stabilization created by the President to stabilize farm prices, rents, wages and salaries.
7th– United Mine Workers Cincinnati convention votes to withdraw its 500,000 members from Congress of Industrial Organizations.
9th– U. S., Britain announce willingness to give up extra-territorial rights in China. Ethiopia joins United Nations. War Production Board orders all except small gold mines to cease operations. There is a raise in food price.
12th– Department of Justice’s petition for injunction against James C. Petrillo’s ban on commercial recording dismissed by Chicago U. S. District court.
14th– Wendell Wilkie arrives in Washington to report to President Roosevelt on his 31,000-mile trip. American Federation of Labor president William Green re-elected at close of Federation’s convention in Toronto, Canada.
21st– 4,000 experienced miners undergo a furlough because of shortages in copper, lead, molybdenum, and tungsten.
22nd– Draft bill rider by Senator Josh Lee (Democratic) Oklahoma, banning sale of alcoholic beverages in or near military reservations defeated by Senate: 49-25.
26th– In a New York broadcast Wendell Willkie, reporting on his globe-circling trip, renews his demand for a second front in Europe.
27th– War Manpower Commission Director McNutt announces plan to freeze all necessary skilled dairy, livestock, and poultry workers.
29th– War Secretary Stimson announces army trucks now using all of the 1,671 mile Alcan highway.  The Alcan highway was built to connect Alaska to the United States through Canada.

November
1st– U. S. takes over all short-wave broadcastings for use by the Overseas Division of the Office of War Information.
2nd– To relieve growing coal shortage in West, United Mine Workers executive committee authorizes seven-day work week.
4th– Republicans make new gains: 19 in Senate, 42 in the House of Represenatives.
9th– President scores France’s chief of government, Pierre Laval, and expresses regret that Laval forced diplomatic break of U. S. and France.
14th– Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, a renowned airplane pilot, and crew members rescued. His crew was sent to the Pacific to inspect military equipment and personnel but they ended up getting lost.
18th– President orders registration of 600,000 youths who reached 18th birthday after July 1st.
20th– Women’s Auxiliary Reserve in the Coast Guard termed “SPARs.” SPARs is a contraction of the group’s motto “Sempur Paratus, Always Ready.”
24th– Saboteurs sentenced in Chicago: Men get death, women get 25 years in jail.
26th– All war industries continue working while nation celebrates Thanksgiving.
27th– Virginia conference of the Methodist Church South demands through their official organ that song “Praise the Lord” be eliminated from radio broadcasts.
28th– New ration book (Number 2) to be issued toward end of year, or first part of 1943.

Food Ration (Edit)

December
1st– Gas rationing begins on nation-wide basis.
2nd– Governor Herbert H. Lehman of New York becomes director of foreign relief and rehabilitation.
4th– President orders Works Progress administration abolished.
7th– Harrison E. Spangler, Iowa, named chairman of Republican party.
11th– Approximately 660,000 war workers frozen to jobs in Detroit.
15th– Office of Population Affairs orders change in heating oil rationing for North zone.
17th– Leon Henderson, director of Office of Price Administration, announces resignation.

 

Written by Tony Connors, Curatorial Assistant.

Other Sources:

Wells, Kathryn and Jack Mulholland.  “The Japanese bombing of Darwin Broome and northern Australia.”  Australian Government, 9 June 2015.  http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/japanese-bombing-of-darwin.

Commonwealth of Australia, The Japanese bombing of Darwin Broome and northern Australia, viewed 21 December 2017.

“Chronology of 1942 San Francisco War Events.” The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco, http://www.sfmuseum.org/war/42.html. Accessed 20 December 2017.

Miller, Robert L. Hitler at War: Meetings and Conferences, 1939-1945. Enigma Books, 2015.

Chen, C. Peter. “Battle of Gazala.” World War II Database, https://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=262. Accessed 20 December 2017.

“Record of the 77th Congress (Second Session).” CQ Press, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1942121500. Accessed 20 December 2017.

McCarthy, Stephanie E. Haunted Peoria. Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

“Air Force History.” Military.com, https://www.military.com/air-force-birthday/air-force-history.html. Accessed 20 December 2017.

Glines, C. V. “Captain Eddie Rickenbacker: America’s World War I Ace of Aces.” HistroyNet, 12 June 2006, http://www.historynet.com/captain-eddie-rickenbacker-americas-world-war-i-ace-of-aces.htm.

“What does SPARS stand for?” The University of Iowa Libraries. http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/wwii/id/2037. Accessed 20 December 201

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THE LUTEFISK LAMENT

Thanks to SCHS volunteer Paul for sharing with us this holiday season.  Enjoy!

‘Twas the day before Christmas, with things all a bustle.
As Mama got set for the Christmas Eve tussle.
Aunts, uncles, and Cousins would soon be arriving,
With stomachs all ready for Christmas Eve dining.
While I sat alone with a feeling of dread,
As visions of lutefisk danced in my head.
The thought of the smell made my eyeballs start burning.
The thought of the taste set my stomach to churning.
For I’m one of those who good Swedes rebuff,
A Scandahoovian boy who can’t stand the stuff.
Each year, however, I played at the game,
To spare Mama and Papa the undying shame.
I must bear up bravely.  I can’t take the risk
Of relatives knowing I hate lutefisk.

Then out in the yard I heard such a clatter.
I jumped up to see what was the matter.
There in the snow, all in a jumble,
Were three of my uncles who had taken a tumble.

From out in the kitchen an odor came stealing,
That fairly set all of my senses to reeling.
The smell of the lutefisk crept down the hall,
And wilted a plant in a pot on the wall.
Uncles Oscar and Lars said “Oh, that smells yummy,”
And Kermit’s eyes glittered while he patted his tummy.

Mama announced dinner by ringing a bell.
They rushed to the table with a whoop and a yell.
I lifted my eyes to heaven and sighed,
And a rose on the wallpaper withered and died.
Then Mama came proudly with a bowl on a trivet.
You would have thought that the crown jewels were in it.
She set it down gently and then took her seat.
And Papa said grace before we could eat.
It seemed to me, in my whirling head,
The shortest of prayers he ever had said.

Then Mama raised the cover on that steaming dish,
And I had to face the quivering fish.
The plates were passed for Papa to fill,
While I waited in agony, twixt fever and chill.
He dipped in the spoon and held it up high,
As it oozed to plates, I thought I would die.

Then it came to my plate, and to my fevered brain.
There seemed enough lutefisk to derail a train.
It looked like a mountain of congealing glue,
Yet oddly transparent and discolored in hue.
With butter and cream sauce I tried to conceal it,
I salted and peppered, but the smell would reveal it.

I drummed up my courage, tried to be bold,
Mama reminds me, “Eat before it gets cold.”
Deciding to face it, “Uffda,” I sighed.
“Uffda, indeed,” my stomach replied.

Then summoning up resolve for which we are known,
My hand took the fork as with a mind of its own.
And with reckless abandon the lutefisk I ate,
Within 20 seconds, I’d cleaned up my plate.
Uncle Kermit flashed me an ear-to-ear grin,
As butter and cream sauce dripped from his chin.
Then to my great shock, he spoke in my ear,
“I’m sure glad that’s over for another year.”

It was then that I learned a great wonderful truth,
That Swedes and Norwegians from old men to youth,
Must each pay their dues to have the great joy,
Of being known as a good Scandahoovian boy,
And so to tell you all, as you face the great test,
“Happy Christmas to you, and to you all the best.”

 

 

Most people attribute this poem to “Boone & Erickson” – a team of WCCO radio personalities in the Twin Cities who recorded it years ago – or “Anonymous.”  The actual author apparently is a man named Dan Freeburg, who copyrighted it in 1978 but seemed to have given up trying to enforce it. 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Snow falls gently outside the frosted window. Candles and cookies fill the house with a comforting aroma, mixing with the sharp scent of the pine tree in the corner. Small lights twinkle in the darkness, lending their glow to the darkness. The music of Irving Berlin and Andy Williams croon from the radio. There is only one time of year where all of these things come together, and that is Christmas. Christmas has been celebrated in nearly every town in Scott County with special events for many years, and the Scott County Historical Society houses records of many of these events. Prior Lake, Jordan, and Shakopee perhaps have the most significant events, but the stories that come from the surrounding communities are equally, if not more so, interesting.

In Prior Lake, Christmas celebrations included a wide variety of activities, such as theatre parties, visits from Santa Claus himself, and a blood drive sponsored by the Red Cross. While these happenings seem fairly standard, in 1975, an unusual Christmas story appeared in the local newspaper. Lorraine Borka returned home one day to discover a package on her front doorstep. Curious, she ripped open the paper to reveal a child’s sled. Though it seemed strange, to Lorraine, the sled held a much deeper significance. 35 years earlier, she had received a sled for Christmas from Santa. She had gotten dressed to go outside to try the new toy, but at the end of her very first slide, a group of boys stole the sled and proceeded to ruin it beyond repair. The new sled was given, 35 years later, by the same group of boys who had spoiled the fun so long ago

In Jordan, festivities often involve the entire town. In the past, variety shows were put on by the area schools, as well as a Red Cross Christmas Seal Program. Christmas carolers were a common sight to see, and the all-around spirit was a happy one. Santa also visited Jordan on various occasions, and all the children were given the opportunity to see him and receive a small gift bag of Christmas goodies. The Jordan Theater also hosted two different movies for kids to enjoy during the holiday season. Agnes Morlock, a longtime Jordan resident, recalls in As I Remember Scott County, “Our Christmas tree was the most beautiful. It was usually a large tree with real white candles. These were only burned once, while we sang Christmas carols. The ornaments were animal cookies…cut out and frosted in white on both sides. These cookies and candles were intermingled with garlands of strung white popcorn. What a sight!”

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Shakopee also hosts quite the number of holiday activities. The local historical park, The Landing (previously Murphy’s Landing), presents their award-winning “Folkways of the Holidays” demonstration every year. The official description describes the event as “a recreation of the ethnic holiday traditions of the Minnesota River Valley which focuses on frontier life from 1840-1890. Music, dance, food, and folk arts combine to illustrate the cultural diversity of the region. The festival showcases holiday traditions as celebrated by a variety of immigrant and religious groups.” The different cultures that are celebrated include French Canadian, American, Norwegian, Finnish, Czechoslovakian, Moravian, Swedish, and Victorian English. The Landing demonstrates the different specialty desserts, formal dinners, and other important traditions. In downtown Shakopee, there is a tree-lighting ceremony complete with photos with Santa, hot chocolate and apple cider, Christmas lights, decorated storefronts, ice sculpture, a petting zoo, and caroling.

Recollections from older residents of the community are featured in the anthology As I Remember Scott County, and many of them mention the Christmas season among their favorite memories. Edna Weckman, from New Market, describes, “The one thing I’ll never forget is going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve with the horses and the sleigh. We bundled up to keep warm. The stars shining brightly, the church lighted up and the Christmas songs made one feel happy and peaceful.” She is not the only one who fondly remembers mass. Patrick Devine of Belle Plaine mentions attending the 4:00 mass, and then returning home to open gifts. Stockings commonly held apples, oranges, and nuts, and occasionally a new shirt or handkerchief would be presented. After the gifts, the family would visit his grandmother’s house for dinner, and Patrick recalls that she “always made the best pies.”

Though the gifts and festivities are fun, the most important part of Christmas is not lost on the Scott County residents. To love and be loved in return, to spend time engaged with those around you, listening to stories of days past, is what Christmas is all about. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Handwritten Recipes

December is a special time for many people – it is a month full of wonder, for the holiday spirit is just around the corner. For many of us in Minnesota, it is a time of beautiful snow flakes outside and of cuddling together with a blanket before a fire or a television. December is a time of sweet smells of crisp air, pine trees, and of course, delicious aromas of food.

Nothing brings individuals together like that of a warm meal or tasty dessert at the table. Before long, families and friends will be together to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. In honor of this time of feast, I thought it appropriate to look through SCHS’s collections and see what we have concerning food and their recipes.

The first thing that came to mind was cookbooks. We have many different types of cookbooks – indeed, the museum holds nearly fifty-five cookbooks, many from the various churches or clubs in the county, and standard cookbooks manufactured from around the United States. The oldest cookbook we have is one from 1890 called the “Compendium of Cookery and Reliable Recipes”. Upon seeing that SCHS has so many cookbooks, my interest was piqued on what we had for handwritten recipes.

A recipe can tell you a lot about the people that used it. A recipe can give one hints of their heritage, pride, and interests. Specific ingredients in a handwritten recipe can also give us insight on the easy or difficult times individuals faced, depending on whether or not ingredients could be gathered. Unfortunately, due to their profound usage in a kitchen, many recipe cards may not live very long lives. Many get wet, torn, or perhaps just thrown away. Many do not get the chance to be preserved in a museum. Below are a handful of handwritten recipes that are being preserved here – for yourself, and for future generations to view. These recipes were all handwritten on some medium of paper, be it notebook paper, recipe cards, or other types of paper.  The most interesting handwritten recipes that I found, however, were written on wallpaper samples!

Please enjoy looking at the handwritten recipes below. The first recipe was most likely written between 1910-1940. The wallpaper sample recipes were most likely written between 1925 and 1935. The last recipe was written in 1985.

Take a look through your own collections and see what interesting recipes you can find! Try some out – particularly for a delicious Christmas dessert. Most of all, please do your best to preserve such lovely recipes. The future’s generations stomachs will thank you!

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Holiday Shopping 100 Years Ago

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving, but also Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. The holiday shopping season is here, and in this day and age, the options seem endless. But what about 100 years ago? Where did people do their holiday shopping back then, and what kinds of gifts did they buy?

There was of course no online shopping in 1917, nor were there big-box stores. People shopped at local establishments; places like Moses Cash Bargain Store in Jordan, Bailey Bros. Department Store in Belle Plaine, M.J. Berens & Sons in Shakopee, and Piesinger’s Drug and Jewelry Store in New Prague. Store ads in the local newspapers featured lots of gift ideas. Holiday shoppers could buy baking dishes, ice skates, and tools at the hardware store; fountain pens, fancy stationery, perfume, cigars, candy, and nuts at the drug store; and slippers, combs, handkerchiefs, ribbons, toys, and clothes at the department store. Additionally, jewelry stores offered an array of fine jewelry and watches (along with items you probably wouldn’t see today like ivory sets and vest chains), and confectionery shops sold all manner of candy and treats.

Holiday shopping ads were plastered throughout Scott County newspapers in 1917, yet the holiday season that year was a somber one. The United States was in the midst of World War I, so any celebrations were tempered by the thought of loved ones far away fighting in the war. The war affected holiday shopping and gift-giving in a few important ways. First, in keeping with the wartime spirit of saving and rationing, there was a strong emphasis on practical gifts. Shoppers were encouraged to buy items that were useful – something the recipient may have planned to purchase anyway. Ads were peppered with phrases like “sensible giving” and stores promised merchandise that was useful and necessary (while still sentimental). WWI also meant that holiday shopping ads featured gift ideas for soldiers, items like trench mirrors, cigarette cases, wrist watches, rosaries, wool socks, writing sets, and toiletry bags. The war’s influence even filtered down to children’s toys. For instance, an ad for Penner’s Confectionery in New Prague listed the following toys for sale in 1917: guns, toy soldiers, destroyers, machine guns, cannons, and torpedo boats.

Below are some examples of holiday shopping ads published in Scott County newspapers 100 years ago, in December 1917. To check out more of these ads, visit the SCHS Research Library, and be sure to check out our WWI exhibit, “The Great War in Scott County”, currently on display. Happy Holidays and happy shopping!

NP Times Dec 13 p 10Xmas Ad 4 JordanXmas Ad BP Herald p 3Xmas Ad p 4 BP HeraldXmas Ad Scott County Argus p 4