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Millard shares Christmas memories from Illinois to Wisconsin

By Kelsie Hoitomt

Millard Hawk may live in Glenwood City now, but he grew up celebrating Christmas along side his family in Washburn, Illinois.

When Millard was 13 years old his mother, Ethel, passed away so his father, Millard Sr. raised him and his brother John who was five at the time.

Millard Sr. never remarried so it was him and his two boys celebrating the holidays throughout the years.

Millard does have two older brothers as well, but they were well into their adult years when he was a teenager.

One Christmas that stands out in Millard’s memory was when his mother was still alive and he got a BB gun.

Now this was great for a young boy living out in the country. The Hawks’ were farmers with some cattle, but mostly crops. Being Illinois is a flat state, they were able to grow a lot of grain.

That flat land also meant that there were little to no hills for outdoor activities like skiing or sledding unless they went down the banks that surrounded the Illinois river, which weren’t too far away.

Christmas Day in the Hawk household was spent at home with Millard Sr. and his sons. There was always a gathering with aunts and uncles.

The boys would go out and get the tree themselves, which was usually six foot or smaller. Also inside the house there were plenty of decorations, which were bought from the local stores.

After he turned 18, Millard went off to serve our country in the Army, which is what he did for the next four and half years.

He spent the majority of those years in England and then went to Germany near the end of the war.

Troops were being assembled at that time, but Japan surrendered, which meant he could catch a boat ride home.

Millard said that he doesn’t remember Christmas being celebrated in those years. To them it must have been just another work day.

In November of 1945, Millard came home on a bus from where he was discharged, back to Washburn.

It was there that his brother picked him up and took him home. Millard said that there was no celebrating his return because he was pretty well pooped.

Sometime before he returned home, Millard married Blanch while he was stationed over in Blackpool, England.

Millard came home in November and Blanch came to the states the following April on a boat with several other war brides.

Together they had three children, two sons and a daughter. One son has since passed away and is buried along with Blanch at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Growing up as a family, the Hawks’ went from Illinois to South Dakota. They farmed in South Dakota for 18 years before Millard and Blanch moved to Wisconsin.

Farming is the one thing Millard knew best so in Wisconsin, they continued to grow crops and raise cattle in River Falls before moving to Wilson.

As parents, Millard and Blanch celebrated Christmas with parties that included a big meal, ham being Millard’s favorite.

They did their Christmas shopping in Menomonie in those days despite living in the River Falls area.

In 94 years, Millard shared that he thinks Christmas is still Christmas for the most part, but in those days it seemed to have meant more than it does today.

Up until two years ago, Christmas was celebrated at Millard’s place on the farm in Wilson.

Christmas last year and this year was and will be spent at Millard’s daughter’s house along with his son as well.

She lives in Wilson and his son lives on the farm in River Falls so they are all close enough to get together over the holidays.