FOSTER TWP. — Eckley Miners’ Village came alive this weekend with the sights and sounds of its annual 1940s Weekend, this year emphasizing the importance of support and sacrifices on the homefront during World War II.
Gina Gibbon, who has volunteered at the site for several years, was manning the Christmas display which included ornaments, lights and other decorations from the World War II era.
Christmas at that time, she said, demanded both frugality and spirit, as families sought to celebrate the holiday despite the absence of their loved ones who were fighting the war.
“For example, during World War II, people didn’t use ornaments lined with silver because metal was needed for the war effort,” she said. “And families didn’t have trees because there weren’t enough men on the homefront to cut them down.”
Instead, Gibbon pointed out a small artificial tree that might have been used to keep spirits up and cost down.
Even recipes changed during the war, Gibbons said.
“Women sought out recipes with less butter because of rationing,” she said.
Jim and Cathy Marcinkus, of Pleasant Mount, drove over an hour to the event because of their love for history.
Cathy Marcinkus, who had never been to the site before, said she enjoyed learning both about the war and the history of the village.
“We didn’t realize that some parts of ‘The Molly Maguires’ movie was made here,” she said.
Nicole Negron, education director, said that although many military re-enactors participated in the event, this year’s focus on the homefront provided a comprehensive presentation of the war
“There are so many aspects of homefront efforts — victory gardens, paper dolls, victory cakes, clothing,” she said.
The Rev. John Uhler, who is also a re-enactor, provided attendees with a better understanding of what it was like to be a chaplain during the war.
Playing “Amazing Grace” on a field organ, Uhler said the instrument was often taken out into the field by chaplains, bringing a bit of the church experience and encouragement to soldiers.
Bill Wolfe, of Hershey, made his way through the event on a horse named Hunter.
“I’m playing my father, who served both in the cavalry and later in a very modern bomber,” Wolfe explained.
Gibbon said that during World War II, those on the homefront did not forget those who were fighting overseas.
“Even the Christmas cards were red, white and blue,” she said. “They never forgot that the country was a war.”