Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry presents more heartwarming stories from Christmas past. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.
Local newspapers have long printed merry or heartwarming stories this time of year to bring good cheer to the season. I recently looked through GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives and found these anecdotes to share with you.
Two days ago, my blog article showed some of these stories. Today I bring more good cheer from Christmas past.
It was going to be a sad Christmas in 1937 for five-year-old Diana Hopkins because her dad was in the hospital and her mom had died recently – but then she had something to look forward to that made her happy.
As the caption for this charming photo explained:
“At White House for Christmas. It’s tough not having daddy at home for Christmas, but 5-year-old Diana Hopkins, daughter of W.P.A. Administrator Harry L. Hopkins, should have a pretty good time, at that, for she’s to spend the holidays at the White House with little Sara Roosevelt, the president’s granddaughter. Diana’s father is recovering at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester after an operation for a stomach ailment. Her mother died recently.”
An abandoned baby was given a special name for Christmas in 1950.
As the photo caption explained:
“This baby girl, looking inquisitively at the camera, was found Saturday in a wooden basket on the steps of the St. Joseph’s Orphans Home in Kansas City, Mo. The mother superior of the home, Sister Janet (holding the child), said she would name her Marie Noel – Merry Christmas. The baby, about 4 months old, was well dressed and bundled, and appeared in good health except for a cold.”
In Detroit, Michigan, Christmas preparations for military spouses in 1943 reached around the world. Many of the brave lads fighting on every front had wives and little ones to ensure Christmas-from-home still reached them. According to the Detroit Times, which featured the families of Naval men, high spirits and bright bundles were shipped overseas with a most priceless item included in each package: a photograph.
Mrs. Edward R. Grace [Corrine nee Wilcox], wife of Lt. Grace, was shown taking a photo of 10-month-old son Edward R. Grace III to be sent to dad for Christmas. Now that is a real bundle of cheer.
Young Rickie Cronk, with his mom [Mary Jo nee Knapp], was wrapping presents for his daddy, Lt. William F. Cronk, who hadn’t been home since July. The best gift: little Rickie’s picture. Rickie grew up to become co-owner and president of Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream.
The Dennis Shea family – Denise, age 12; Mrs. Shea [Margarite nee Kennedy]; and Philip, age 15 – left home for the post office to mail Christmas gift packages to Lt. Shea, who was on duty in the South Pacific.
Mrs. John M. Norcott [Barbara Ford nee Ballantyne] and her son David wrapped Christmas parcels to be sent to Lt. Norcott.
Mrs. Mennen G. Williams [Nancy Lace nee Quirk], wife of Lt. Williams, was pictured with her two children – Nancy, 3 months old; and Gerry, age 2 – with books to be sent to daddy. A photo of mama with the tots will be the most treasured gift, since he had not seen his little girl yet. Williams, aka “Soapy” [the family enterprise was Mennen – men’s personal care products] became the 41st governor of Michigan and Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.
In 1951 two young curiosos – Arthur Brender, age 5; and Jeanne Carpenter, age 3 – wandered into the General Exhibits Building at Fair Park, Texas, thinking they scored a sneak peek into Santa’s workshop. There were no signs of Mr. Claus or his elves, only two workmen who were preparing Christmas decorations for the Dallas streets. The kiddies got a glimpse into the magic sparkle Worth Enterprises was creating: 2,500 pounds of foil sent from Washington, D.C. But it would be the last year for this kind of holiday extravagance: foil was on the government’s critical list.
I hope these Christmas anecdotes – both in today’s story, as well as my earlier blog article – have put a smile on your face. For those who celebrate this holiday, have a very Merry Christmas – and may the magic be with you!