Christmas Eve fell on a Monday in 1906, and in Norwalk, Ohio, it was cold day. The temperature had fallen below zero for the first time that year. Those who had to venture out that bright, bone chilling day were anxious to get home, no doubt. But for some, home had to wait until they finished their Christmas shopping. Procrastination has been common throughout the ages, and we can be sure that there were those in 1906 Norwalk who had put off that task until the last minute.
Judging from the many advertisements in the Daily Reflector and the Evening Herald, the town’s merchants were ready for them, although based on the season’s sales so far, there might not have been much to choose from on their shelves. An Evening Herald article on Christmas Eve reported that this had been the best shopping season in many years for merchants. And that, the paper assured its readers, made for a merry Christmas in Norwalk. To be certain a lack of cash would not prevent sales from ending on a strong note, the town’s banks announced that they would stay open late that evening.
Many businesses shared their good fortune with their employees. One company gave each worker a five-dollar gold coin. The A. B. Chase company gave each married employee a turkey, and its unmarried ones a fruit basket. Norwalk’s poorest citizens were not forgotten, either. The Salvation Army had prepared two food baskets each for forty needy families that year, and by Christmas Eve, all had been distributed. The Salvation Army Hall was the scene of a Christmas Concert that evening, with seven hymns and as many recitations followed by presentation of gifts.
Did the Norwalk Class of 1907 have school that day? Maybe they did, although if so, the students would probably have participated in a Christmas program, instead of their studies. As an example, two years later, one of the class of 1907, my grandmother Harriott Wickham, was a teacher at a one-room schoolhouse in Peru Township, several miles south of Norwalk. Here is what she wrote about Christmas Eve at her school that year:
Thursday, Dec. 24, – A most exciting day. Billy went out with me this morning and stayed all day, driving around the country on a hay rack with Webb Hester most of the time. We had a Christmas tree and trimmed it at morning recess, Billy and Webb assisting. We left our lunch box on the car!! So Bill said he’d get me something over at Peru. He came back with half a pound of cheese and some crackers. Then Lucy and Agnes came and bought some more stuff, but by that time I was to busy to eat anything, so all I had for dinner was three dates. We didn’t have many visitors, Mrs. Nicolls, and Grace Truxello’s mother and cousins and some youngsters making up our audience. It went off pretty well, I think, considering, and the youngsters seemed to have a good time, which is the main point. Billy and Webb got there just too late for the exercises. Later they wrote their names in the visitors’ column and under the ‘Remarks” Webb put, “Too Late. Stung again.” The little one’s and most of the big scholars went home after the stories, but a couple of the boys and Webb and Billy, of course, stayed and helped take off the decorations and pack things up. Everyone but myself has gone downtown tonight. I have got the house all ready for Christmas, and have only candles for lights, and put a little Christmas tree in the center of the dining table for a centerpiece. We have our stockings all hung up ready for Santa Claus.
Are you ready for Christmas? Are your stockings “all hung up?”
May your holiday season be a bright and joyous one.
Filed under: Harriott Wickham, Norwalk HS Class of 1907, Norwalk OH High School, Norwalk, Ohio, Uncategorized | Tagged: Christmas 1906, Christmas Eve, Norwalk Evening Herald, Norwalk High School Class of 1907, Norwalk Ohio History, Norwalk Reflector, Wickham Genealogy |