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December 11, 2022

Christmas at Home: Vintage Photos Show a Family Enjoying a Happy Reunion in a Small Kansas Town in 1945

Everywhere across the land last week the railroad trains were jammed with servicemen and ex-servicemen bound for their first Christmas at home in many a long year. As they pounded eastward, the crowded, crack trains of the Santa Fe slowed down only a little for the curve on the northwest edge of Neosho Rapids, Kansas. In this Rule town, Christmas and its joyous reunion had already come and gone for the Irwin family.

The fact that they had to hold their celebration early did not dim the Irwins’ joy. Their 20-year-old son Jack, Navy aviation ordnanceman second class, had to be back on duty by December 14. James Ferdinand Irwin, who is a farmer and carpenter, talked it over with his wife and they decided to have Christmas presents and Christmas dinner Sunday, December 9. For the first time in three years all their seven children were present. In addition there were four grandchildren, two sons-in-law and Uncle Fred Andrews, seagoing Navy brother of Mrs. Irwin, who had come to Neosho Rapids for the hunting season. Only sad note was the absence of Lieut. Clyde Roush, husband of Betty, oldest Irwin daughter. A bombardier on a B-29, he was reported miming over Japan last spring.

The Irwins’ Christmas party followed tradition in every detail. The men went hunting for rabbits and quail. The women cleaned house, did the washing, prepared food. A goose, fat and ready, was killed and plucked. The tree was cur and carried triumphantly home. Carols were sung around the piano. On “Christmas Day” the Irwins attended the Methodist Church. Then Uncle Fred, family humorist, dressed up in a Santa Claus outfit and distributed presents to all the children. They were terrified. 

Son watching James F. Irwin (R) selecting a goose for an early Christmas dinner to celebrate safe return of sons and sons-in-law from WW II.

James F. Irwin (R), his wife and son preparing a goose for an early Christmas dinner to celebrate safe return of sons and sons-in-law from WW II.

Mrs. James Ferdinand Irwin (L) standing on porch watching the men in her family, most recently returned fr. service in WWII, carrying home freshly shot rabbits and a cedar tree for Christmas family reunion.

Family members watching James F. Irwin (C) killing a goose for an early Christmas dinner to celebrate safe return of sons and sons-in-law from WW II.

Members of farmer James Ferdinand Irwin's family trimming native cedar Christmas tree in living room during family reunion and early Christmas celebration marking the return of Irwin's sons and sons-in-law from service in WWII.

Rabbit skins hanging on wall of tool shed after hunting expedition.

Family members watching James F. Irwin (R) plucking a goose for an early Christmas dinner to celebrate safe return of sons and sons-in-law from WW II.

Adult members of farmer James Ferdinand Irwin's family gathered nr. tree watching his brother-in-law Fred Andrews (in Santa Claus costume) give presents to young family members at early Christmas family reunion marking safe return of sons from service in .WWII

James Ferdinand Irwin's family singing carols at early family reunion Christmas celebration marking safe return of sons fr. WWII (L-R) Mr. Irwin, Scotty, Carolyn, Betty Roush, Jim, Myra Lee Love, Jack, Jeanne Haney, Mrs. Irwin, Jeff Haney, Levern Love, I.I. ris Beth Love.

Son watching James F. Irwin (R) selecting a goose for an early Christmas dinner to celebrate safe return of sons and sons-in-law from WW II.

Daughters of James Ferdinand Irwin bottle-feeding their babies at Christmas family reunion celebration marking the return of Irwin's sons fr. service in WWII, L-R: Jeanne Haney & son Joe, Myra Lee Love & son John, Betty Roush and her daughters Julia Ann .

Mrs. James Ferdinand Irwin in kitchen preparing stuffed goose for Christmas dinner that marks the first family reunion in years w. her sons safely returned from WWII.

Grandchildren of James F. Irwin opening presents during an early Christmas party to celebrate safe return of sons and sons-in-law from WW II.

James Ferdinand Irwin family sitting around table having Christmas dinner, their young men safely returned from WWII, (clockwise from L) Fred Andrews, Mr. Irwin, Jim, unidentified, Jeanne, Joe, Levern Love, Myra Lee, Jack, unidentified, Mrs. Irwin Scotty, and 2 unidentified.

(Photos by Myron Davis/ LIFE Archives)




1 comment:

  1. For those who use the term "sustainable" frequently, this is it. Are you ready to live this way?

    ReplyDelete


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