Merry Christmas!

This holiday is being observed all over the world and reading through past newspapers I found it interesting that in 1939 there were several large celebrations of the holiday in Cardington.

One of the largest was sponsored by the Cardington Rotary Club. It was held in the dining room of the local school where the walls were elaborately decorated and a large, ornate well lighted Christmas tree took center stage along side a decorated fire place. This party included imported gifts from 19 countries and flags from many others.

This project began six months earlier when the club contacted Rotary Clubs around the world asking for donated items. The story lists each item and the country that sent it – such as a chocolate bowl from Tokyo, Japan; and an ink stand from Australia, etc. The gifts were presented by Rotary Member John Kientz (aka Santa Claus).

Presiding over this party were the club’s president Dr. Frank Hartsook; Dr. Thor Nybladh, program chairman and Leland Cahoon. An Hungarian Gypsy Orchestra from Columbus provided music and dances as entertainment. A turkey supper was provided by Grace Bennett.

As an aside, there is no information on what happened to those 19 gifts from foreign countries.

That same edition of the paper relates the story of the Rotary Club presenting food baskets to 23 families in the village. Also, in the town park, a special party was held when Santa Claus distributed candy to 300 children.

Services were announced at every church in the community with each giving treats to the children. Performing solos at the Methodist church were Lucile Sellars, Paul Fleming and Mrs. Fleming.

The Cardington School presented the operetta “There was One who Gave a Lamb.”

Later, a Christmas story in a 1985 edition of the Independent featured a photo of Greta Roberta and Bobby Dowalter with their ginger bread houses and Jeremy Gale, kindergarten student pictured with Santa.

So it is Christmas, a special time of the year and for me, filled with so many memories, experiencing Christmas as child during The Great Depression and later as a parent watching my children open their gifts very, very early on Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas to each of you.

80 years ago, 1939: Roscoe Dennis of Cardington, was named as countywide chairman of the January, 1940 fund raising drive to combat polio, also known as the March of Dimes.

70 years ago, 1949: Toys and candy were distributed to nearly 100 less fortunate children in the Cardington School district on Christmas Eve under the sponsorship of the local American Legion, Rotary Club and businessmen’s association. The same day, Santa visited 20 children in the community who were ill.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

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