Christmas Long Ago
Herald Dispatch, December 25, 1965
Written by: Charles Collett
Submitted by: Robert Kingrey
My dad told us kids about Christmas when he was a boy. I expect your dad or mother told you about Santa Claus as they remembered him, and today’s parents have to answer such questions as, ” What does Mrs. Santa Claus do?”
My dad lived on a farm down in Old Virginia when he was a boy, and that was before the Civil War. He was the oldest boy in the family and on Christmas morn after all his daily chores were done, he walked three miles with an axe to find an evergreen tree to carry back home. By the time he got back home his mother had baked enough round doughnuts and foot-long twisters to decorate the tree in time for Christmas dinner.
I am sure everyone can tell a story about Christmas when they were a child. All my childhood days were in Ironton and I hope my memories don’t bore you. The first item about Christmas found in an Ironton newspaper dates back to 1853. It announced there would be a band concert Christmas Eve at the courthouse at early candle lighting, before time to put the children to bed.
It was perhaps 1895 that I remember the Santa Claus in the large display window at the Cohen and Goodman store on Second Street. The store location is now the First National Bank drive-in. The store sold notions, lamps, china and toys. I think Mr. Cohen was an uncle of Bert Cohen who made Third and Center Streets popular with the Leaders for the ladies.
Julius Brumberg and Joe Klein perhaps remember when the downtown stores kept open like usual on Christmas morning until about 1 o’clock for late shoppers and the exchange of gifts that didn’t fit. Albert Cannon, retired assistance postmaster was special delivery messenger at the post office when city carriers delivered mail on Christmas morning. At that time there was one delivery only on holidays, and the office windows opened on Sundays from 2 to 4 so folks could call for their letters.
The Christmas Eve many perhaps remember was 1914 when the first community tree a 40-foot evergreen, was erected on a platform with a piano in the intersection at Third and Park Avenue for the first community tree in city history. Since that date ladies of the Child Welfare Club have been a ” Christmas Mother” to warm the hearts of many. Printing a Yule memory about Ironton without mention of the thousands of dinner baskets provided by the Elks before government welfare, and the outstanding good deeds I wrote about at the time during the years following the Wall Street crash of 1929, would not be completed without mention of a few names about town today.
Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson and her late husband Rom opened their home for dinners for the less fortunate. George R. Spears provided candy treats for hundreds at his drug store. The welfare mission has carried on the good will program the past 35 years at Third and Lawrence. There are so many heart-warming stories about this season of the year it behooves us to take the closing words from Red Skelton’s TV show, ” May God Bless.” and wish every reader a Merry Christmas.