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Wolcott Museum Features World War I Decorations This Holiday Season

During the holidays, Billy Box care packages containing personal items, such as chocolate and a baseball, were sent to soldiers during World War I.

BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Although WWI was a bloody war in which 25 million soldiers lost their lives, there were moments of peace, especially on Christmas Eve in 1914, when an unofficial truce took place. This holiday, the Wolcott Museum Complex has extended the WWI exhibit that has been on display throughout the year, now featuring holiday decorations that represent Christmas during that time period, beginning with the Christmas truce of 1914. Museum curator Kathy Dowd designed the exhibit, which includes the famous truce that began after the British soldiers heard the Germans singing “Silent Night” on the western front. The British joined them in song and soon both sides laid down their arms, gathered at no man’s land and celebrated the unofficial ceasefire. “For an entire week, they forgot about the war,” Dowd said. The exhibit contains actual photographs of the soldiers dancing and playing soccer during the truce. “They found out how much they had in common, which was really fascinating,” she said. Throughout the museum, photographs of soldiers in trenches are on display, along with Christmas cards and posters from that time period. Holiday music from that era will play throughout the home and many of the decorations consist of natural elements such as dried fruit, greenery and feathers, which would have been common at that time, Dowd said. Photos of American Red Cross nurses tending to soldiers are also on display, as well as candles and clothing worn by Red Cross nurses. “To show support for the Red Cross, the government wanted one candle in every window of every home and that began the tradition of a candle in the window at Christmas,” Dowd said. A Billy Box is also on display, which represents one of the unique care packages that would have been sent to a soldier in WWI. The boxes contained socks and a Bible, but also personal items such as pipe tobacco, coffee, chocolate, canned meat and a baseball. “The items were much more personal for the soldiers,” Dowd said. In addition to the Wolcott House, the Maumee Garden Club decorated the schoolhouse in an 1840s theme with holly balls and greenery. The Wolcott House Museum complex is located at 1035 River Rd. The museum will also host a member Christmas party on Friday, December 8 at 5:00 p.m. and the Ghosts of Christmas Past ORBS paranormal tour will take place on Saturday, December 16 from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. Hours of operation are Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4:00 p.m., with tours taking place at noon and 2:00 p.m., and on Tuesday through Friday by appointment. Cost of the tour is $3.00 for students, $6.00 for adults and $5.00 for seniors. The museum will close for the season on Friday, December 22. For additional information, please call (419) 893-9602 or visit online: https://sites.google.com/view/maumeevalleyhistoricalsociety/home.

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