12/13/2012

'Twas the Season, Part 9


December 1951. U.S. troops were mired in a bloody and politically unpopular war in Korea.

Among the American casualties was 20-year-old Corporal Richard E. deVilliers of the 1st Marine Batallion. He'd worked for Bell Telephone in Hayward, California before being shipped off to Korea.

He was killed in fighting near Seoul in 1950.

As a memorial to their former co-worker, a group of Bell employees in San Francisco sent Christmas packages to every member of deVilliers's unit. The grateful Marines found a South Korean tailor to create a Santa costume, turned a jeep trailer into an impromptu wheeled "sleigh," and celebrated Christmas far from home.

The above drawing depicting the Christmas 1951 celebration is from a Bell Telephone ad that was published in the December 1952 issue of Harper's magazine. If there's an artist's signature on the drawing, I couldn't find it.

Check back tomorrow for another glimpse of Christmas Past at Drye Goods.

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