Saturday, December 5, 2015

Looking Back: Dorchester's Christmas Activities In 1946

There's nothing to do in a small town during the holidays.

That's a common complaint we hear nowadays, especially among younger people.  
But you never heard that complaint from your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents, did you?  

There's a reason for that: Our relatives of two or three generations ago took matters into their own hands and made sure there was something to do in their community, especially around the holidays.

The Dorchester Times staff examined Christmastime issues of The Dorchester Star newspaper from the post-WWII era of 1946. (Note: The accompanying photo is of a 1946 Saturday Evening Post cover by Nebraska artist John Falter of his hometown of Falls City.) 

Here are some of the activities on the Dorchester calendar the week before Christmas:
  • Dorchester Activities Club:  The Dorchester Activities Club met once a month. In December 1946, 68 residents attended the meeting to share a turkey dinner prepared by "the ladies" and then to hear from a guest speaker lecture about the future of "atomic energy."
  • American Legion: On Dec. 15, 1946, the Dorchester American Legion held a trap shoot for the public at the J. Owen Potter farm.  Pheasants were at "such a high premium" that year that it was decided shooting at clay pigeons made more sense than a hunt.  On Dec. 19, the Legion and Auxiliary held a  Christmas covered dish supper for the community.
  • Dorchester Quilting Club:  The Quilting Club enjoyed a Christmas party at the home of Mrs. Lillie Arnold.
  • Friendly Nabor Club:  The 20 members of the Friendly Nabor Project Club met at the home of Mrs. Sabina Potter on Dec. 11 for lunch and had a exchange of homemade gifts.  They announced the January meeting would be hosted by Mrs. Hans Weber and Mrs. Jay Younkin.
  • Triple A Club:  Mrs. John Freeouf was hostess of the Triple A Club.  It was reported that "Miss Myrtle Briker was high at bridge."
  • Dorchester Bridge Club:  The Bridge Club met Dec. 17, 1946, at the home of C.C. Whitcomb.
  • Dorchester School:  Dorchester's 5th and 6th graders decorated their classrooms for Christmas with posters of Christmas scenes, as well as poinsettias and candles and a Christmas tree.  Jack Bruha brought a new 1947 calendar for his classroom. In high school, the DHS Pep Club girls decorated the hallways and student assembly, and "dressed a tree placed in the upper hall."
  • Dorchester Library:  The Dorchester Public Library was open on Saturdays in December 1946 from 7-9 p.m. on Saturdays and from 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.
  • Methodist Church  The Dorchester Methodist Church's young people went caroling around town on Dec. 21, 1946.  The "Junior Department" of the UMC Sunday School held a pageant "A Little Child" on Christmas Eve.  The adult choir practiced on Dec. 19.
  • L.M. Club:  The weekly L.M. Club (we don't know what L.M. stood for) met at the home of Mrs. William Sehnert, as "Madames" Earl Moser and Henry Andelt received traveling prizes.
  • Women's Club:  The Dorchester Women's Club held their weekly meeting on the afternoon of Dec. 18 at the Community Hall.


  1. Back in the "40s" they had what I believe was called "The Elevator Feed" at Christmas. It was held in the Community building which was much different back then. What I remember most were the glazed donuts. Believe they also had hot dogs, apples, sacks of peanuts. We looked forward to this treat back in those days. We didn't have any money so this was very special.

    1. Anonymous:

      Good history!

      Thank you for adding to our story.

      -Dorchester Times Staff

  2. I would like to point out that in 1946, most family incomes came from Dad working or farming. Not that being a housewife was easy, but time was much more manageable. Most of the clubs and social events were run by women who made the time from their household chores to do these things. Today, because of the economy which often takes two incomes, there is no spare time. It is also why so many volunteer organizations are falling by the wayside.

    I would also argue that with a diversified agriculture economy of those days, it was much easier to come up with the commodities for these events. A dozen families donating a goose or turkey and you could have a feed. The others donated other food items grown on their farm or back yard and their labor and you had an event.

    Look in the papers of old for the social events going on from the 1920's on. Card parties, tea parties, coffee parties were weekly events. Even if someone had the time to put on an event like that, most people are now at work.

    You are comparing apples and oranges. The old times were much better in some ways. But there was also not such an emphasis on material goods either. Now folks need two new cars and a new home or they are not happy............................just food for thought.

  3. Actually, studies show that Americans have never had more leisure time than they do now.

  4. Parents back then didn't spend hundreds of hours running their kids all over creation to soccer practice, dance lessons, martial arts classes, ball practices of every kind, you name it. Today's kids rule the family.


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