December 5th, 2012

Christmas in WWII

ChristmasWWIIpicIt’s that “most wonderful time of the year” again, and for me and many of us, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without the lights, the decorations, the presents, and (especially) the food!  It’s a time of over-indulgence and celebrations with family and friends, but the abundance we enjoy today was not always so. During World War II, with the war effort in full swing, rationing severely limited many things we now take for granted. Although this created some hardship, it was a small sacrifice that most were honored to make if it helped keep their loved ones safe and sound.  Still today, many of us are separated from our loved ones and may be struggling to make do with less.

Nothing evokes the feeling of Christmas like the music; the songs conjure up memories of Christmases past and how we celebrated with family and friends. Even now I find myself humming “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby.  Recorded during World War II, the melancholy lyrics of “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” with their comforting images of home and yearning for family, touched the hearts of American civilians and soldiers alike.

Join us Tuesday, December 11 at 6:30pm at the North East Branch Library. In a period uniform, accompanied by holiday music of the era, she will be sharing images of Christmas during World War II, both at home and in military settings.  She will describe the decorations and how food was prepared, and will explain shortages and rationing and how that affected daily life. Take a step back in time with us, to hear about Christmas memories from those days.

What are your favorite holiday traditions and memories?


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August 22nd, 2012

Women Lighthouse Keepers

women lighthouse keepersEver wonder what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper? To be responsible for ships making it safely into treacherous harbors? Lighthouses and their keepers have always inspired romantic notions of masculinity and heroism but the work itself was tiring, unpredictable, and extremely demanding. Lighthouse keepers had to be vigilant at all hours of the night to make sure the lights stayed lit for boats traveling in all kinds of weather.

The first lighthouse in Maryland was built in 1822 and the last one was constructed in 1910. At one point there were 44 lighthouses on the Maryland shores of the Chesapeake Bay. During the years from 1792 until the 1930s, lighthouses throughout the country saw a dramatic surge in their necessity and an almost as rapid decline in their use as lighthouses became automated, replaced by beacons, fell into disrepair, and ships began to employ more sophisticated methods of navigation.

Most lighthouses today serve as museums and tourist attractions and we have a couple of very popular ones here in the immediate area. Concord Point, located in Havre de Grace (also the second oldest tower lighthouse on the Bay) and Turkey Point in Elk Neck (which had more female lighthouse keepers than any other lighthouse on the Bay) are both popular parts of our local history. Did you know that the first lighthouse keeper for Concord Point was a hero from the War of 1812? Or that hundreds of women have been lighthouse keepers throughout history? Women are often overlooked throughout history for their roles in traditionally male jobs, but many women continued on as lighthouse keepers when their husbands or fathers died and did the job just as well, if not better.

Please join us at the Perryville Branch Library on Thursday, August 30, at 7pm as historian Mary Rasa presents a program tracing the fascinating history of women lighthouse keepers, what kind of duties their job entailed, their tales of isolation and hardship in extreme weather conditions, including Cecil County’s own famous Turkey Point Lighthouse keeper, Fanny Salter.

For more information, we have several exciting books about lighthouses in the area available for checkout at the library including: Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic Coast by Elinor DeWire and Lighthouses of Maryland and Virginia: History, Mystery, Legends, & Lore by Bob Trapani, Jr.

What’s your favorite lighthouse?


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