Christmas Day 1906 in Norwalk, Ohio – Family and Charity

Go to Christmas Eve 1906 Post

harriott-wickham-commencement-photo

Harriott Wickham

Christmas Day in 1906 fell on a Tuesday. In Norwalk, Ohio, neither newspaper published on that day, but their editions for Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas paint a picture of a holiday of celebration and good will. There was no mention of any students in the Norwalk High School Class of 1907, however. Fortunately, I do have an account of Christmas Day a couple years later from one member of the class, my grandmother, Harriott Wickham. In 1908, she wrote this in her diary.

Dec. 25, 1908, – Such a nice Christmas, and I haven’t been much of anywhere either. The kids got up this morning at four o’clock, and the rest of us at five. Then the kids all went back to bed. I had some breakfast and then I went back too about half past seven. I meant to go to church, but I didn’t. Irene came over just before we had our dinner, and so she sat down with us and ate another. Oh! Ichirstmas-scene ate so much! After dinner we went over to Grandma’s, and then later Irene and I went over to Sophie’s for a few minutes. When I got back to Grandma’s, Ed was there, and she and Lucy came over in the evening. Oh, I almost forgot my Christmas presents. I got a white sweater jacket that I have been wanting for just ages, and a fountain pen, and ten dollars from Aunt Hattie, and two books and two handkerchiefs from my school kids, and a comb & a Larrette and a pair of stockings and a hair-recieveo, and a box of ruches and a pair of cuff links, and a butterfly pin, and a bow and a buffer and an apron, and – oh, several pictures and I can’t think what all, and a pearl and amethyst bead chain thing, awfully pretty from Uncle Louis. He got them while in India, and sent one to each of us girls in the family. He sent Mama and Grandma and the aunts some beautiful lace things and Indian silk things and Roman scarves, all things he picked up in his travels besides $150 apiece. Isn’t he great? Altogether it has been a very Merry Christmas, and I am so ‘appy, but very tired.

Obviously, Harriott’s family was well off. Many other students in the class did not enjoy such bounty, I am sure. However, I am beginning to suspect that most of them were fortunate to be attending high school at all. As I’ve researched the families and circumstances of the members of the class, I have begun to realize that almost all are what we would consider middle class. By this time, Norwalk was home to many manufacturers. What about the children of the men and women who worked in the factories of the town? I suspect that they were already in the workforce, and unable to attend school at all. More on that in future posts.

hair-receiver

A Hair Receiver

Several of Harriott’s presents were unfamiliar to me and I had to check with Google (how did I survive without you, Google, in the not so distant past?) to discover what they were. A “hair recieveo,” or hair receiver, was used to collect hair after brushing. A ruche, I learned, is “a gathered ruffle or pleat of fabric used for trimming or decorating garments.” But when it comes to a “Larrette,” Google failed me. Any idea what that could be, dear readers?

Many citizens of Norwalk spent Christmas Day at home or visiting relatives and friends, as Harriott and her acquaintances did. But if that wasn’t enough, the roller rink was open for business, as numerous ads in both the Daily Reflector and the Evening Herald had advertised the day before.

Both newspapers announced the next day that great joy visited the Children’s Home on Christmas morning. A tree laden with fruits, nuts and toys greeted the children, courtesy of the Knights Templar. After the matron, a Miss Head, passed out presents (can you picture that scene? I can—one straight out of a Dickens novel), everyone enjoyed a feast—after dismantling the tree.

The ten inmates of the county jail enjoyed a Christmas feast, as well. A table was set in the “big corridor” of the institution and laden with fried chicken and various side dishes—and even cigars. By the end of the day, but probably after the festive meal, another poor soul was added to their number. An article in the Norwalk Daily Reflector the following day reported that a man named Pat Murray “celebrated too much with liquor, and as a result was arrested and locked up.”

merry-christmas

Go to Christmas Eve 1906 Post

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