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Monday, Sep. 26, 2016

Christmas remembered -- Goodwins' memories span decades

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

(Photo contributed/Sentinel photo by Amy Erickson) (Left) This picture of Irene and Wes Goodwin was taken in 1943 while Wes was stationed in Missouri. He was drafted into service in 1942 during World War II. Wes was sent overseas in the fall of 1943. (Above) Wes and Irene Goodwin, of Le Mars, remember what it was like to celebrate the holidays apart while Wes served in World War II and together as a family in the 60-some years since.
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of stories sharing the memories local residents have of Christmases gone by.

Wes and Irene Goodwin know the meaning of Christmas after creating more than 70 years of memories.

Sitting together in their Prime Living Apartment, in Le Mars, Wes, 95, and Irene, 92, share that they spent several Christmases apart while Wes served in World War II.

Wes was drafted into the Air Corps in July 1942, just six months after he and Irene were married.

He served at a base in Missouri before being shipped overseas in October 1943.

"I sent him Christmas presents every year," Irene said. "I sent him a yo-yo one year."

Wes added that Irene also sent him "some popcorn," which was a big hit with him and others in his unit.

He sent a note to Irene asking her to send a letter to a popcorn company, in Schaller, to express the troops' appreciation.

"The company sent about 10-pound gunny sacks of popcorn to different guys in the unit," Wes said. "They came at different times so we could stretch it out."

Making popcorn in a tent in the middle of a war zone was a little different than what many think of today.

Instead of electric poppers, Wes used a metal stove he and others made which operated on 100-octane fuel, he said.

"I made a big pot and we put it down in that stove," Wes said. "It popped like nothing else."

People came from all over carrying their helmets for a bowl of popcorn, he added.

"Those steel helmets were used for a lot more than protecting you," Wes said with a grin.

He said he couldn't send any Christmas presents home while serving in the war.

"We didn't have anything," Wes said.

But, when the war was over he made up for it.

"When I came home, I brought Irene a silk scarf, a bottle of perfume and a bracelet," Wes said.

He explained that some Christmases during the war he enjoyed a turkey dinner.

"We would have a little extra than usual at that time," Wes said.

Irene and Wes agreed that, along with the war, Christmases for them as children were also different than today.

Irene, who was an only child growing up in the Quimby area, remembers being happy to receive a big orange or apple, a nice handkerchief or something crocheted as gifts.

"One year we had a big tree," she said. "We strung popcorn and cranberries and decorated the tree with that."

Another Christmas Irene remembered receiving a doll.

"I thought her bonnet was so pretty," Irene said. "I never wanted to take it off. Then one day I did and I thought her hair was so pretty."

Wes, who came from a family of five siblings, said his Christmases in Ida Grove were different than his wife's.

"We didn't have anything," Wes said. "We couldn't buy toys. If we wanted things, we made them."

Whether at war or growing up in the mid-1900s or today, many holiday celebrations have one thing in common -- family.

Wes and Irene have two children, Gary, and the late Olive Plate, seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild on the way.

The Goodwin family will be gathering again this year to make a new Christmas memory to pass along.

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