Sunday, December 23, 2012

TIME MACHINE ... Christmas Time

(Reader-friendly viewing of newspaper archives material)

January, 1884
(Peninsula Enterprise- Accomac)

Notwithstanding the disagreeable weather on Monday night (Christmas Eve) it was very lively in this locality. The firing of guns and pistols began at early bedtime, and continued during the night. Many delicious meals were prepared and eaten, and not a few persons participated in drinking eggnog.

December, 1888
(Dispatch- Richmond, Va.)

Onancock, Va., December 26, 1888.

This is the mildest, prettiest, quietest Christmas ever seen on the Eastern Shore within this generation. The weather is so mild that fires are uncomfortable, and people are going about in spring clothing.

FOOTNOTE: A month earlier, November 26, the same area experienced a blizzard.

1950's & 1960's

During the Christmas season the Coffman-Fisher clothing store at the northwest corner of Second and Market Streets in Pocomoke City set up a large toy department on an upper level of their store. Children of that era may still recall climbing the flight of stairs above the balcony level of the store to visit the once a year large display of toys. In Salisbury, "Jolly Jack's" toy department at the R. E. Powell clothing store was a favorite visit for the kids.

December, 1888
(Peninsula Enterprise- Accomac)

Christmas exercises will be held in Leemont M. P. Church on the night of December 25th, 1888, at 7 p. m. A choice programme will be arranged for the occasion, and a large number of premiums will be awarded to those receiving the highest grades.


January, 1891
(Peninsula Enterprise- Accomac)


The pleasures that prosperity brings made this Christmas a very delightful one to most of our people. Church entertainments, midnight watch meetings, sociables, weddings, sleighing, &c., contributed "to the feast of reason," and none of the delicacies were wanting which "the inner man" required. The scatterers and the gatherers in of the "filthy lucre" each had the pleasures which it brings. Our merchants say, that their Christmas sales were the largest in the history of the Island, and that such was the case, was a matter of surprise to no one, for in addition to the various sources through which money is obtained here, some 300 oystermen had returned home after an absence of four months with the receipts of their labor during that time of $2 to $3 daily.

(Time Machine archive)
(It appears from this article that more than a century ago it was Christmas eve that was the most anticipated time for holiday shopping.) 

December 24, 1897
(Woodland Daily Democrat- Woodland, California)


Children Will Catch A Glimpse Of Fairyland

People With Christmas Memories In Their Minds And Christmas Cheer In Their Hearts

Those who have had the opportunity to watch the people surge up and down the street this afternoon know is has been a busy day for the merchants, and without the use of the calendar they could easily determine the date. Indeed, if a resident of one of the planets could drop in on us unannounced he would know it was the day before Christmas on account of the industrious manner in which people are picking up odds and ends to fill the toe and heel of the Christmas stocking and add to the happiness of Santa Claus' day.

And this holiday rush will continue far into the evening because Christmas Eve is everybody's evening. It is the evening when all take the evening off from the ordinary occupations of their ordinary existences and spend that evening down town in the interests of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the evening when the day laborer and the capitalist rejoice together in common cause that work is over, at least for a brief season. It is the evening when the best girl shares the pleasure of the best young man. It is the evening when whole families of young children get their first glimpse of the fairyland of Christmas and of the treasures piled high behind protecting windows, and of the white-whiskered and mysterious old man who shakes their hands, takes their names and promises them on the faith of a Santa Claus a present of a doll or a drum on Christmas morning.

This evening being Christmas eve the electric lights on the streets, the electric lights over the store entrances, the electric lights that mist fantastically across the facade of tall buildings will flare their brightest radiance for the benefit and happiness of the passing throng. Windows will blaze with twinkling jets and reflect the shades of tinted glows upon the colors of the goods below. Light and darkness will chase each other up and down a continuous chain decorating the edge of our tallest structures. Lights will flicker from the branches of the Christmas trees and gladden the hearts of the children.

Christmas eve is the night when the green foliage of Christmas brings a breath of spring, and this evening it will be a cheerful spectacle to see the bright holly leaves, shining with the seasons good will, the hollie (holly) berries, red as the season's charity, the mistletoe hinting at future pleasures and the joys of future frolics, the evergreens filling the streets with Christmas odors and the minds of the passing throng with Christmas memories and their hearts with Christmas cheer. This evening windows will blaze with light and glow with color. Pavements will resound with noisy clamor. Stores that are filled with a bewildering wealth of holiday treasures will be thronged with eager, admiring purchasers. But after all it will be the people who give life and animation to the spectacle that will make the scene worth seeing, and the night worth living. It will be a crowd to watch and mingle in, to become part of it in the pleasure, in contentment, in wonder and in that satisfactory feeling of accomplished work and anticipated rest.

(Time Machine archive)
December 25, 1924

(The Lubbock Morning Avalanche- Lubbock, Texas)


Childhood's Christmas Memories

"Backward, turn backward, Oh Time in your flight, Make me a child again just for tonight."

How many of us tonight are wishing that old poem might come true just once more in our lives? Of all the days in our childhood, none stand out so vividly in our memory as those mysterious Christmas times. There is something about our Christmas memories that reach the heart of every one of us who were so fortunate as to grow up in a happy home. We did not say a big, luxuriant home, but a HAPPY HOME. A home where sympathy and LOVE, and a family understanding of one another's hearts fills the atmosphere of the whole home. A home where each member of the family believes in and rejoices with every other member of the family in their ambitions and their hopes and their accomplishments. That's the kind of home we mean when we say a happy home. It may be a humble little cottage or it may be a mansion. It is the spirit in the house and not the shell in which we live that makes happy homes. And it so happens that most of our happy homes are humble homes because we have so many more humble homes in America than any other kind.

What are your first memories of Christmas? Can you bring them back through the long years and tell them over again to the children? There is nothing children love to hear so well as Christmas stories of their own fathers and mothers. "What did Santa Claus bring you were a little boy Daddy?" "And what did he bring to mother?" "Did he travel then just as he does NOW? And what kind of toys did little girls and little boys send for in those days?"

It is the unusual, the impossible, and the mysterious belief that it will happen that puts the thrill of expectancy into the heart of the little child at Christmas time. It is their faith in the spirit of Santa Claus that is so beautiful.

But if the memories of Christmas time in the old home far away are among our most treasured memories of childhood, what is our greatest privilege at Christmas time now? Is it not storing up other Christmas memories in the lives of our children to be recalled a generation from now when we are no more and other little ones yet unborn are begging for Christmas stories of long ago? This is one of our greatest opportunities and privileges for Christmas, 1924. Creating Christmas stories and Christmas memories to be retold by the generations of fathers and mothers in 1950, 1975, and even up to 2000 after the first Christmas story was ever produced.

...fill the childish hearts and childish minds around you with those Christmas memories you would be proud and happy to have them carry through their lives and tell over and over at the Christmas tides of the future to the little heads nestled near their hearts.

Do you have a local memory to share with PPE readers.. such as a big snow storm, a favorite school teacher, a local happening, something of interest your parents or grandparents told you about, a Holiday memory? It can be just a line or two, or more if you wish. Send to and watch for it on a future TIME MACHINE posting!

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