(yes, that is pewperson, at age 3, almost 4, in her cowboy regalia and guarding her gumball machine)
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…
~ Clement Clark Moore (from “A Visit from St. Nicholas)
The following is an edited excerpt from a letter written by my mom on December 27, 1958. It is fun to look back and remember the toys and games that were all the rage back then for us five kids (ranging in age from one month old to 8 years old).
… It’s amazing how food has disappeared around here – the day before Christmas I had it running out of the freezer and refrigerator – and now all that’s left is a little salad and a taste of dressing.
But back to Christmas…. Stockings were full- and the tree loaded. Ray’s delight was his “Moonscope” – a real instrument, not a toy, and a new set of “bones” for his collection of dinosaurs, three books for his nature library, three wise men for his creche, a new car for his train and a miniature football – this last has proved to be his most popular toy as far as the neighborhood is concerned! Tetot was thrilled with a Ginny dressed as a Brownie, long socks, a flashlight, little people for her doll house, a gold hairband, USA puzzle and a real camera complete with carrying case. Dee got a shiny new bike, Mighty Mouse doll, a soft kitty (Pokey had chewed up her other one!), a penny purse for school, long socks and a truck to carry her farm animals in. Carol made a bee line for her gun and holster set, then loved her doll buggy and Popeye doll. She also got a horse head for her trike, Noah’s ark and a truck like Dee’s. Santa had also left a record player with a note for the kids that it should belong to all. This caused a minor commotion since Dee (who can’t read) had been the one who really asked for one and claimed it as her own! But matters smoothed out.
Then we attacked the pile of presents… What fascinates us parents (and it should teach a lesson) was how thrilled each child was with even the simplest gift. Carol went wild over a 5-cent box of crayons Ray had bought for her; Tetot adored a ring (29 cents) – and so it went.
Soon the living room floor disappeared in a sea of paper and boxes; each child had a mound of wonderland. Ray, wearing his new big blue football helmet, whooped with delight as Zorro came out of a package. He tried to read all his books and get the directions straight for setting up a rocket and building a missile launching station (only a zillion parts, thank you!). He also got a camel and donkey for his creche, a baseball, more cowboys and Indians and assorted loot from his buddies…
Tetot’s big thrills were her Bible and her huge Rosemary doll (to go outdoors, Rosemary wears one of Mary Gay’s sweaters). A trunk from her cousins was quickly filled with doll clothes from Mammaw (ditto Dee) and we happily were preparing to stir up many a cake with a new bake set. Also in this miss’s pile were boxes of “jewelry” and some wonderful new sports clothes and a precious long nightgown.
Dee’s bowling set has proved a big hit with young and old- and is a wonderful bargaining point when she wants to play with someone else’s things! A new addition to the doll family was promptly named Mary and made welcome since she could wear lots of clothes we had on hand. Dee’s “Ginny” – nude until now- became a fashion plate- and we’ll all be smelling like something after we get through with the boxes of bubble bath! New clothes were a perfect fit, and Dee is now the proud possessor of much new “jewelry”, too.
Carol’s new buggy was promptly piled with new baby doll, new kitty hand puppet, two new puzzles and a banjo that plays “Popeye the Sailor”. She also got various cowboy fixings – rope, bandana, until she can barely walk when she has it all on. She has a racket in her bubble gum machine, too! She looks like a red candy cane in her new shirt and pants- and is getting so tall!
Mom went on to say that Dad got a barbeque cooker and some clothes. She mentioned that he was thrilled with his new game of “Gusher” (would this be an oil well game?). She got some new clothes, pans and records. Finally she mentioned that one month old Mary got a ball, a new sleepy dolly and a musical jack in the box.
Other gifts that she noted included such things as a harmonica, red aprons from Disneyland and several records for our new communal record player.
She went on to say how she and Dad were “dead for coffee” after the morning’s excitement. Then Dad and the older kids went to church while she stayed home with baby Mary.
Later they had friends over for a turkey dinner and enjoyed egg nog by the fire. She closed with the comment, Needless to say, I was ready for bed that night!
Thank you, Mom, for documenting our shared family history via typed letters to friends and family members over the years. You were so smart to use carbon paper to keep copies of them! What a treasure they are…
(note: Pewperson will return in 2014. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!)