Annie, Joan, Helen, and Bernice reunite in this story, which takes place at the end of 1944. Joan, while waiting for her War weary fiancé, Dick Thimble, is stricken to learn that he may not have survived his injuries. While trying to manage through the uncertainty, she loses her job and has a shocking showdown with the ever-present maddeningly attractive Gloria Marini, who has not yet given up her quest for Dick’s heart. Annie, who tries to help Joan navigate the roaring emotional sea, is injured herself when tattered electrical connections cause an explosion in her shop. Her frightening experience brings about renewed vision in the girls’ lives, who begin to see the reality of life’s fragility. Just as it appears that the holidays will bring little cheer that year, surprises bring about a dazzlingly Joyful Christmas Celebration!
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.
by Cece Whittaker
Not surprisingly, the World War II era is a favored setting for historical romance novels. One of the many reasons for this is the common phenomenon of personal sharing. At home in America, it was a special time in recorded history during which general goodwill and sacrifice was the way of life. Scaring up an extra plateful for someone’s visiting cousin or fellow worker was not embarrassing or something to put up with. It was an opportunity to serve, and as such, a powerful weapon against depression and confusion.
“Share and Play Square”
Most of the drive behind taking the high road was dedicated to support, whether toward the men at the front, the men and women at home on base, or in factories, or even the children coming up in what would otherwise be an unacceptably tumultuous world. The country was ripe with helpful and inspirational slogans. Terrence Witkowski in his work, “The American Consumer Home Front During World War II,” agrees. He feels that this element of World War II’s history telling has been largely “Produce and Conserve, Share and Play Square.” (Witkowski, 1998)
Something about the feeling of we’re-all-in-this-together provides comfort and closes out thoughts of who will get that paralyzing telegram next, and what will the papers say tomorrow? Limited meat resources created almost a celebration in offering up a meatless night of the week, usually Monday. For Catholics, this was a double, as Fridays without meat were already the rule. “Rationing meant sacrifices for all,” the author of World War II Rationing says. He further describes “Sugar Buying Cards,” which allotted specific measures of sugar which families were eligible to buy, based on the number of family members. (World War II Rationing, n.d.) See more about the Meatless Monday at www.u-s-history.com.
Some historical romance novels celebrate the humanity and laughter, but also include sacrifice and the heartache of separation during this very emotional, yet kindness and sharing time. My series contributes in that direction. www.cecewhittakerstories.com.
Witkowski, T. H. (1998). The American Consumer Home Front During World War Ii. ACR North American Advances. Retrieved 7 27, 2018, from http://acrwebsite.org/search/view-conference-proceedings.aspx?id=8204
World War II Rationing. (n.d.). Retrieved 7 27, 2018, from U-s-history.com: http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1674.html