Did chestnuts roast on an open fire during Christmas time in St. Helens in 1944? Were there yuletide carols sung by a choir? And how many locals at that time had loved ones serving in World War II?
The Columbia County Historical Society and Museum Association is currently in the planning stages for their newest December program to answer those questions, “A Homefront Christmas: St. Helens in 1944.” It will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12 in the Columbia Learning Center Auditorium, located inside the library at 375 S. 18th Street in St. Helens.
“I have always been interested in World War II and have always loved Christmas, so this seemed like a god combination,” volunteer Brandon Sundeen, the creative force behind the project, said. “I’m looking forward to sharing some stories that haven’t been told for 75 years.”
The program will focus on how locals were celebrating the holiday during the last Christmas of WWII. Sundeen said he’ll be sharing stories about locals who had loved ones serving overseas, how people were decorating their homes and trees, and what they were eating since many food items were being rationed at that time.
Sundeen is also hoping the community will contribute temporarily from their personal collections at home.
“If people have family members that lived in the area during the World War II years, I would love to include personal memories of their wartime Christmas celebrations,” Sundeen said. “We would also like to include photographs of holiday celebrations, and also photographs of those in the armed forces during World War II, along with Christmas cards and letters.”
Sundeen stopped by The Chronicle office last Thursday to peruse our stacks from 1944, taking photos as he went. He used them to see what kind of toys kids were asking for that year and how people were decorating their Christmas tree.
If you have personal recollections, photographs, letters from soldiers, sailors or family members during that time period, or any other memorabilia, reach out to the museum via their Facebook page or by calling 971-225-3971.