Celebrating Christmas the American wayPublished 10:05am Friday, December 9, 2011
Column: Between the Corn Rows
For the last two Sunday Lifestyles sections, plus the one in the next edition, I’ve used the American way as the themes for the articles. The connection this three-part series of articles is with products once produced and sold by Albert Lea’s American Gas Machine Co. However, for this column the American way is intended to represent an entirely different concept.
On Aug. 26, I wrote a column based on the suggestion that folks could try to celebrate a special occasion to be called Wear American Day. The intent was based on wearing outer wear clothing made in the U.S. of A. or staying home.
Now I have another seasonal suggestion. Folks should try to observe Celebrate Christmas the American Way between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. To put it another way, all the decorations (indoor and outdoor) and presents should be American made.
For example, natural Christmas trees are obviously grown and cut in this nation, even if it’s in another state. Yet, one can assume nearly all the artificial Christmas trees originate in groves (factories) in faraway lands.
Right at this point in the narrative I could get all worked up about buying American. Instead, let’s consider what some worker off in a foreign land where snow has never fallen has to deal with regarding one aspect of his daily employment. For the following scenario we’ll use the initials of Y.W. for young worker and P.B. for his pushy boss.
One hot, humid day during a rare break time, Y.W. asks, “Sir, what are the little dolls I’m stuffing supposed to be and what’s the cotton for that’s around his feet.”
“I can see you’re the new kid in the factory. They tell me that doll is something called Santa Claus and he’s standing in snow,” P.B. replies.
“Who is this Santa Claus and what is snow?” Y.W. inquires.
“Look, son, I don’t ask questions. I have no idea as to what this Santa is and why he standing this white stuff. All I know is the home office has a contract with some company across the ocean for these dolls. Maybe next week or next month we’ll be making toys or clothing or something else for those foreigners. Meanwhile, be thankful you’re not out in the rice paddy with the rest of your family and be thankful you have a job. Now get back to work,” P.B. declares.
The point I’m trying to make with this commentary is the idea that so much of our Christmas merchandise is made by people who really don’t know the meaning of this particular part of our lives.
In last week’s column based on the Camp Algona POW topic, I indicated there was a question as there the branch camp at Wells was located. Now, thanks to Ken Leland, Harley Miller and Lisa Foley, I can report that this camp for German prisoners of war in 1944 and ’45 was located about two miles north of Wells on Faribault County Road 29 at what was then the hemp (rope) plant.
Now I have another question. In the series of articles about the non-electrical heating and lighting products made by Albert Lea’s American Gas Machine Co., the word kerosene was used several times. Now I’m wondering just how much this type of fuel is being used at the present time and where kerosene can be purchased. Let’s see what evolves.
With just three exceptions, Ed Shannon’s column has been appearing in the Tribune every Friday since December 1984.