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As It Was: Isolated Agnes, Ore, Bolsters Soldiers Spirits

In December 1917, members of the isolated hamlet Agness, Ore., gathered for a potluck lunch and social time at their community hall.

The principal feature of the get-together was to pack Christmas boxes for seven enlisted soldiers who were overseas and notably missed by their hometown. Everyone wanted to encourage and show their appreciation to the young men who had gone to war on their behalf.

The preparations took weeks. Socks were knitted, and wildflowers pressed. While doing their usual festive cooking, women prepared extra portions of cookies, jams, and fruitcake.  Men collected rations of sweet chocolate, candy, gum, tobacco, and cigars. Children provided handmade greeting cards.

The idea was not to send a quantity of items, but rather small remembrances from everyone, so that each member of the community would be represented. Each article had the sender’s name attached and would be familiar to the intended recipient.

Packing the boxes afforded as much pleasure to the senders as to the receivers, with the added hope that the bolstering-up effect brought more strength and courage than could be conveyed in any other way.

Source:  "Xmas Packages for Boys in Service." Gold Beach Reporter, 13 Dec. 1917.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.