Monday, December 11, 2017

Poignant to Hilarious: ‘Dear Santa Letters from a Century Ago

Below are actual letters to Santa published in Adirondack regional newspapers a century ago, from 1914 through 1917. (None of the letters have appeared here in past collections.) Those years coincide with World War I, so there are a few references to the war, but for the most part, the letters are just plain entertaining. Some contain tinges of sadness, and they all reflect a simpler time among working-class communities, where gifts often consisted of items that in higher strata of society were common, everyday possessions.

For example, among the hundreds of letters reviewed, including 37 presented here, the most frequently requested Christmas gifts were candy, nuts, oranges, and warm items of clothing.

Many of the letters were written by children from families who struggled financially. That theme will be addressed here next week in the story of a remarkable man who made it his personal mission to brighten the lives of thousands of Adirondack Mountain folks.

December 1914:
Dear Santa: I am a little boy, eight years old. I try to be a good boy. I would like a ball, top, gun, a book, say a pretty book. Some candy and nuts.
Earl Wooledge, Adams Centre, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I thought I would write you a letter and tell you what I would like for Christmas. I would like a pair of long gaiters and a bible with the new and old testament complete and a fountain pen. But don’t bring me any nuts and candy. Hand them over to the poor children in Europe and a dolly’s dress too.
Yours truly, N. Geraldine Stone, Watertown, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little girl, ten years old. We have no fence and you can drive your little deers right up to our porch and we will leave the door unlocked for you. I would like a blue ribbon and a pair of overshoes to fit. The shoes are 11. I would like a nice blue coat if you have it. Don’t forget my sister. Bring her a nice doll. And nuts and candy.
Your friend, Doris Heldstrom, Watertown, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little girl, six years old. Bring me a big doll and some dresses for her, a red hair ribbon, a picture book, a ring, and some overshoes. I guess that’s all.
Dorothy McClary, Watertown, N.Y.
[P. S.] Some candy and nuts.

Dear Santa: I am six years old and would like a pair of mittens, slippers, and a toy auto, of course candy and nuts.
Yours truly, Schuyler and Clyde Loomis, Limerick, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am ten years old and I would like a nice sleigh and pencil box and pencils and I have three brothers and one sister. Please bring each one something nice and oblige.
Urban Fluckiger, Clayton, N.Y.

Dear Santa: Please bring me a doll carriage. I am seven years old.
Katherine Fluckiger, Clayton, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little girl, four years old. I wish you would bring me and my sister, aged three years, some warm underwear. Papa has no work and can’t buy us any. Please bring us some candy and nuts and some little playthings. I also got a baby sister, 1 year old. She will need some shoes. I had my little friend write this for me. Good-bye dear Santa, don’t forget us.
Bertha Pracht, Watertown, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I wish you would bring me a dress and a game of Panama Canal. I wish you would bring me a writing desk and chair. I would like a set of white furs.
Good-bye, your friend, Sybil Vincent, Watertown, N.Y.

Dear Santa: We are little playmates and live next door to each other. Our names are Kent Washburn and Clarence Church. Kent wants a slippery slide trombone and a express wagon, a cap, and mittens. I would like a sled, a drum, and a tool chest, also some candy and nuts. Please do not forget our drum and horn for we want to play band.
Clarence Church and Kent Washburn, Adams, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little boy six years old. I want a sled, some paints, a train of cars, a track, some leggings, and overshoes. Now, Santa, don’t you forget my things. Yes, and I forgot my mittens. And don’t you forget mama and papa.
Your little friend, Sherman Fraser, Huntingtonville, N.Y.

Dear Santa: Pleas Send me a air gun and a mouth organ and a fut ball and a policeman’s suit and a new akron for my mother and a akron for my grandmother and a pair of socks for my grandfather good by.
Fred Lalonde, Watertown, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little girl six years old and have been a good girl, but I have moved since last Xmas and want to let you know where I live, near Sacket’s right by the rail-road track and Uncle Brent says you won’t come here cause the reindeers will be afraid of the cars but Dear Santa Claus there is not trains through here at night and won’t you please bring me a doll carriage and a baby doll a kimona a locket chain and anything else you have to spare.
Your little friend, Julia Hazelwood, Sacket’s Harbor, N.Y.
P.S. Our stove pipe is so long I will leave the front door unlocked.

Dear Santa: Hoping that you will receive this letter in due time so as to get some candy and nuts and some great big oranges for me and my brother and sisters. As I am eight years old. I would like more things if you have them to spare. As I have a big sled I would like to have you bring me a little baby elephant to draw me to school. Good Bye.
From your little friend, Floyd Cook, South Rutland, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little boy 8 years old. I want a new overcoat, a map. Clifford wants a new suit. Sister Ruth wants a flat iron. Don’t forget baby Magdalene and daddy and mamma and grandpa.
Your friend, Wilford Chapman, Cape Vincent, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little girl five years old and of course am too small to write much so my brother is writing for me. I lay awake every Christmas to see you Santa but have never seen you yet. I want something for Christmas that will be useful; I am not very particular. Hoping I will see you this year I will say good bye.
Dorothy Rookey, Gouverneur, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am writing for my little sister to. She is five years old. My little sister wants a cap, a scarf, and a sweater, blue beads and an old maid game. Now I will tell you what I would like. I would like a tam and scarf to match a sweater, and some red beads and a checkerboard. I think my baby sister would like a pair of boots. Don’t forget the orphan children.
From your little friends, Alta Jeanne McCrea, Grace Erma McCrea nine years old, Watertown, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am writing to you about Christmas. I want a pair of overshoes, and leggings, candy and nuts. That is all I guess. I am twelve years old. Answer soon.
Your girl, Mable Shaw, St. Lawrence, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little orphan girl 8 years old. I would like a doll and a pair of leggings and overshoes. Please Santa this will make my Christmas happy. Wishing you a merry Christmas and God bless you.
Your friend, Mary Louise Garlack, Watertown, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little boy seven years old. I go to school every day. I have no brother nor sister to play with. I would like a violin, a victrola, a drum and a sled. Will leave the door unfastened.
Your little friend, Arland a country man, Evans Mills, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a very small girl of four years and would like a lot of things for Christmas. First please help the poor before you help me. Then come down the chimney and I will be there for you to bob my hair as I have long curls and they bother me when I am in school. I would also like a new pair of shoes and overshoes. My mother wants lots of things and my brothers too.
Love, Isabel Carrol, Watertown, N.Y.
P.S. My sister wrote this but I signed my own name.

Dear Santa: I want a doll that walks and sleeps and cries and a big carriage and stove and a table and chairs and candy and nuts and apples and a dresser and that will be all for this year.
Lucille Brill, Copenhagen, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I want a lamp and a bed and a ribbon: a box of handkerchiefs. I would like a doll and a carriage.
Your friend, Charity Parody, Potsdam, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a boy of 12 years old and I am in the third grade. When you come please bring me a sweater.
Yours truly, Robert Hamm, Henderson, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little boy eight years old. Papa says he thinks Santa Claus won’t come this year. He says he hasn’t any money. I would like a toboggan and shoes size one and overshoes, coaster and a train of cars. I have three brothers younger than I. I would like to have you bring them something to wear and something to play with if you have anything left.
Robert Fetherly, Dexter, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little boy six years old. I go to school every day and I’m in the second grade. I would like a wagon and some fine books. I did not want you to bring me a baby brother, but Dr. Witt brought him two weeks ago.
Keith Fitzgerald, Brownville, N.Y.

December 1917:
Dear Santa: I like candy. Will you please bring me a doll baby and some candy and some dishes. And don’t forget candy. 2 years old.
Louise Wetherwax, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Dear Santa: If you get into the war and get hurt I’ll spank you because I want you to please bring me a toy auto truck and a set of blocks. Please bring my sisters some blocks, too. If you don’t they will want mine. I hope you won’t get very cold Christmas Eve. Be sure and wear your mittens. 5 years old.
Jason Wetherwax, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I thought I would write and let you know what I would like for Christmas. I want a pair of overshoes, a washing set, and some candy and peanuts. Be sure to bring me my overshoes. I haven’t any to go to school. And don’t forget my parents and teacher. My ma wants a pair of morning slippers and a pair of gloves. Pa wants a pipe and a cap. My teacher wants a manicure set. I will hang my stocking near the telephone. My house is painted yellow and quite a distance from the road. Well, Santa, I guess that will be all.
Ora Pellerin, Riverview, N.Y.

Dear Santa: A doll’s sleigh is all I want.
Ameida White, Dannemora, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little girl, seven years old. I go to school every day and like it very much. Will you please bring me some ribbon, a doll and a doll’s bed. Please bring my little fat brother Andrew a little cart. We both want our stockings full of candy, nuts, and peanuts.
Your little friend, Mary Weir, Clayburg, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little boy nine years old. Of course I must go to school every day but I like it. I am in the third grade. Santa, please bring me a pair of skates, a sled, and a little gun so I can learn to shoot before I’m a man. Also my stockings full of candy, nuts, and peanuts.
Lawrence Davignon, Clayburg, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am a little boy four years old. I live at 13 Elizabeth Street with my mama and grandma. I used to live with papa, too, but he has gone to war. So I can’t tell you to bring him anything. But I would like to have you bring him back, also my three uncles, and you can bring me a set of blocks and a pair of bedroom slippers and a pair of mittens. So good-night.
Johnny Edward Parent, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Dear sandy I am a little boy 8 years old my name is Kenith C. Chaffie I Wood like to have sandy bring me a small shovel and some overshoes and a little candy good by sandy Love to you. Potsdam, N.Y.

Dear Santa: Will you please bring me a box of writing paper and a story book and a pair of suspenders and a little bag of candy. Dear Santa I hope you come to my house. I live in East Chazy. I should think you would be cold. I am nine years old and you know what a nine year old boy wants.
Phillip Poissant, East Chazy, N.Y.

Dear Santa: As we are in war I will not ask for much. Please visit Lyon Mountain just the same and bring me a pair of skates, a new doll, a chair, a bracelet, a ring, and a story book and bring my little nephew Tom a train of cars. He lives at 11 Oak Street, Plattsburgh.
Your little friend, Ruth Harrica, Lyon Mountain, N.Y.

Dear Santa: I am writing to you to give me a present for Christmas. I wish you would bring for the whole world peace and send all the boys home. This will be the best present for me.
Yours with love, Sophia Taylor, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Next week: the true story of an Adirondack Christmas legend.

Photos: Headlines from the Plattsburgh Sentinel

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Lawrence P. Gooley

Lawrence Gooley, of Clinton County, is an award-winning author who has hiked, bushwhacked, climbed, bicycled, explored, and canoed in the Adirondack Mountains for 45 years. With a lifetime love of research, writing, and history, he has authored 22 books and more than 200 articles on the region’s past, and in 2009 organized the North Country Authors in the Plattsburgh area.

His book Oliver’s War: An Adirondack Rebel Battles the Rockefeller Fortune won the Adirondack Literary Award for Best Book of Nonfiction in 2008. Another title, Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow, was a regional best-seller for four years running.

With his partner, Jill Jones, Gooley founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004, which has published 83 titles to date. They also offer editing/proofreading services, web design, and a range of PowerPoint presentations based on Gooley’s books.

Bloated Toe’s unusual business model was featured in Publishers Weekly in April 2011. The company also operates an online store to support the work of other regional folks. The North Country Store features more than 100 book titles and 60 CDs and DVDs, along with a variety of other area products.



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7 Responses

  1. Beth Rowland says:

    Thanks, Larry! They are dear.

  2. Terrry says:

    Wow…..very well done, children….AND Larry!!
    Merry Christmas!!

  3. kathy says:

    These letters seem so eloquent and literate for the age group even with siblings writing for them.
    My favorite is the request for the elephant to pull her large sleigh!

  4. Balian the Cat says:

    Can you imagine a kid asking for and being happy to receive a “pair of overshoes” for Christmas!? Really good stuff.

  5. Boreas says:

    I can barely remember the day when kids would write letters to anyone. I tried, but most people couldn’t read my chicken-scratches.

  6. Bill Ott says:

    So one of the little darlings wanted a Panama Canal board game. That means I want one too for Christmas, though I will probably have to get it myself. Last night I found a circa 1914 ad for the game – the game was $.50. The original ad itself sells for about $10.00; could not find an original game at all. We could probably make up a “Climb the High Peaks” game, or better yet, a “Find the Lost Forest Ranger” game, something for these cold snowy nights. Keep warm and Merry Christmas.

  7. […] collection of letters to Santa that appeared in this space last week epitomized life in the rural regions of northern New York a […]

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