Lindbergh Historical Site

Volunteer Margaret Lundberg portrays Mrs. Stevenson at the Lindbergh Historical Site and shows a wartime meal schedule including meatless and wheatless days.

Over the last several summers, visitors to the Charles Lindbergh Historical Site have had the chance to take a look into the lives of people on the home front of World War I, thanks to volunteers and staff reenacting life on the Lindbergh property at the time.

That will come to an end after this summer.

In its final year, visitors can come enjoy the program Saturday June 15, July 6, July 20, Aug. 3, Aug. 17 and Aug. 31.

Among the people guests will run into is Margaret Lundberg, who among other characters, has acted as area resident Mrs. Stevenson.

Through a tour of the Lindbergh home, Lundberg shows some of the things people went through during the war.

For instance, due to rationing, food schedules were developed where families planned for days when there would be no wheat and/or meat served, Lundberg said.

This led to eating habits that continue to today, she said.

“This is when they started serving potatoes at breakfast. You wouldn’t have eggs and toast because you were going wheatless,” Lundberg said.

Another food trend that developed from the war was eating chicken.

At the time, chickens were scrawny and viewed as only good for laying eggs, Lundberg said.

“We did not eat chicken in 1917,” she said.

During the war, chickens were canned and shipped over to Europe to meet the proposal of shipping 20 million tons of food.

Later, research was done as to what chickens should be fed to fatten them up and by 1925, three-pound fryer chickens were available, Lundberg said.

Rural areas held an advantage when it came to rationing as “Meatless,” did not include game that was hunted, she said.

“There were no hunting seasons, so you could hunt whatever you wanted. That was a plus for being in rural America,” Lundberg said.

No matter who a person was, during the war they were doing something to help the war effort, she said.

Crews of volunteers would gather to knit socks, hats and other items, while boys and girls would get out of school early to work in jobs like farming or mining.

Although the program was called the Boy’s Working Reserve, in Morrison County, 50 percent of those who participated in the program were girls, Lundberg said.

The way blood is given today also started during this time, as people began donating it to be stored and shipped to those in need for the first time, she said.

Before this, blood donations were done between family members, with the procedure happening at a hospital with the blood going directly from the donor to the patient.

“This is kind of new, to give blood to a stranger and it can be stored,” Lundberg said.

In addition to giving blood, people were also encouraged to give money to the war effort by buying war bonds, with the results published in the paper.

“Oh so and so bought a $1 (bond). Oh, so and so bought a $3 war bond. They kind of used peer pressure to sell them,” Lundberg said.

Along with being pressured to buy bonds and conserve resources, the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety also put pressure on individuals of German heritage, volunteer Mark Utzinger said.

While no formal orders were given, in Little Falls the American National Bank building was once known as the German National Bank building and the name was changed during World War I.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if indirectly, they were told,” he said.

Utzinger plays Gustav Gertz, who was a tenant farmer on the Lindbergh’s property whose parents were German. As a result, he prefers to go by Gus, Utzinger said.

He said it is great to be a part of this program and he feels the lessons from this time are still relevant today.

“It makes me worry when the next war comes around, who will be the next group that will be discriminated against,” Utzinger said.

Tours of the Lindbergh House with the actors will run every thirty minutes from 10 a.m to 4 p.m., with no tours at noon.

More information is available at: www. mnhs.org/lindbergh.

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