Reflections: Looking (way) back at Christmas


I’ve noted before that I enjoy reading the news in newspapers from the past and this week I have looked way back to newspapers stories about Christmas events that took place in December, 1899.

There is a lengthy story about the Soldiers Feast that Christmas, held at the G. A. R. Hall in Cardington on Christmas night.

“It was a beautiful evening, bright and cold, the snow squeaky and crisp. Soldiers could be distinctly seen here and their marching along the street in double quick time but no guns on their backs. On the contrary baskets filled with all the necessities of life were carried on their arms. Nor did they march alone, for their wives, their children and their friends, in all to the number of 100 or more gathered in the hall.”

Following the supper which was described in detail, there was a program with many speeches and music.

In that same edition of the Morrow County Independent, there is a paragraph noting that “The Christmas mail was unusually heavy this year at the Cardington post office. Christmas morning thirteen sacks of mail came from train No. 11 alone.”

The Christmas edition of the paper that year describes in detail two weddings: that of Prof. A. L. Banker, superintendent of the Cardington Union School and Miss Clara, highly esteemed daughter of the Honorable and Mrs. George Kreis. The wedding took place in the Kreis home on Marion Street with 50 or more guests. Included in the piece was the wedding’s write up in the Columbus Post newspaper.

The other wedding was that of Independent newspaper editor, Edgar E. Neal and the “lady of his choice,” Mrs. Emma B. Doty, teacher in the primary department of the Cardington Union School. The editor writes an emotional piece about the wedding itself.

That same edition, Dec. 21, 1899, features a front page pen and ink drawing of a rotund Santa pointing to a sign that says “Everybody wants the Independent for 1900.” Santa holds a newspaper that says “Best paper for the General Reader!”

I think the letter featured in the December 21, 1939, edition of the same paper could be written today. It depicts a man holding a pen completing

the letter he has written to Santa which is printed in two columns and says “Dear Santa I have been a good boy, I don’t want much of anything for Christmas. After all, I have about everything I could wish for. I have comforts of life unknown in other lands. I have liberties that are mine as an American.

This is one Christmas, Santa, when I am not asking for anything except for the chance to keep this country of ours as good as it is and to make it even better. We can do this if we stick to the American way of doing things. That’s all any real American wants.” — signed Johnnie Public.

Of course, we all know what happened just two years later, December 1941.

December, 1939: Roscoe Dennis of Cardington was named countywide chairman of the January 1940 fundraising drive to combat polio, also known as the March of Dimes.

December, 1949: Mrs. Bea Nulk of South Center Street advertised four nice little puppies free to the first boys who called for them.

December, 1969: Two Cardington youths, Kelvin Trefz and Rick Shoemaker were among 70 Morrow County 4-H members who received special awards at the 4-H Achievement Night program.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

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