Christmas in Akron — Wartime memories

Carolyn Cary's picture

My dad was raised on a farm in southeast Ohio. His bunk was in the eaves of a farm house and, needless to say, was very cold. He got used to five or six blankets on top of him, and even in later years when given an electric blanket still preferred five or six blankets.

Books were very important to him, with games taking second place. This passed on to my sister, who was two years younger, and me. We enjoyed reading and playing games whether with the family or with friends who might drop by.

Dad and Mom had their first house built upon my arrival in the world in 1932. I was told it cost all of $3,000 and had to be paid in full.

Ten years later he managed to find a bigger house in Firestone Park, just a mile from where he worked as a steam engineer. It had a wood fireplace and, frankly, I think that’s why he bought it.

It was close to a grade school and a Methodist church. Since my mother did not drive, we had to walk everywhere and these necessities were well within walking distance. High school was a mile away, one way, but I digress.

This house had a solarium, a small room on the side with all windows. At Christmas, that’s where the tree went. Stockings hung from the fireplace mantle and wide red ribbons festooned the two white round poles holding up the small front porch.

There was always a fire going that week and Dad found some sparkling dust-type stuff to sprinkle on the fire.

This was also in the early 1940s during World War II. I had an Uncle Raymond, Mom’s youngest brother, who was in the war. The state was sectioned off and each section had to draft “X” number of men. Well, unfortunately where Uncle Raymond lived, all the males were very young or very old. Even though he was in his 30s, he had to be the one to go.

His wife, Dorothy, I vaguely remember, was from Ireland. My dad thought it would be nice to bring her to the house and have a photograph taken of her by the fireplace for her soldier husband.

Please don’t tell anyone this family secret, but it turned out she had guys living at their house and wearing Uncle Raymond’s clothes. One of his brothers found this out and waited until the war was over and Uncle Raymond landed in California to tell him. Needless to say, I never saw Aunt Dorothy again.

My sister and I never wanted for much, and just speaking for myself, I can’t ever remember not getting something special I wanted.

We always had snow, of course, and while I probably growled about walking in it to school or church, it’s now just a pleasant memory.

[Carolyn Cary is the official Fayette County historian and the editor of the county’s first compiled history, “The History of Fayette County,” published in 1977. She lives in Fayetteville.]