Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Family's Christmas Photos: 1945 - 1960

: What did the salt say to the pepper?

Olden Times
Grampy and I have all the photos from our parents, also all those of his Grandmother Pike and my Grandmother Trout.

Grampy says:
There are no Christmas photos in my family, and no traditions that I can recall. I remember great presents one year, 1952, when I was a 5th grader living at 48 North St. in Portland ME. I got an erector set, a chemistry set and ice skates. Dad must have had a really good year.
When I was 13 and living in the country in Gorham, ME I went in the woods behind our house and cut a Christmas tree, then made popcorn strings and construction paper chains to decorate it.

Grammy says:
Neither of my parents had any Christmas photos of them as children, and the few from my childhood were taken by an uncle and aunt if they came by on Christmas Day. They had no children, but had a good camera and used expensive color film.

Traditions I remember:
-singing carols with my grandmother at the piano

-opening one present on Christmas Eve

-decorating the tree and the living room with much red and green construction paper and crayon artwork

-getting a Christmas doll (even though I never cared for dolls after I learned to read, and they stayed untouched until next Christmas when they were carted up to the attic, then replaced).

-a new book from my grandmother. Her favorites were nature or animal books such as Thornton Burgess, Walter Farley's Black Stallion or Island Stallion series, Albert Terhune dog books, or the Lucy Fitch Perkins twins series, Augusta Stevenson's childhood of famous Americans series, or Gene Stratton Porter. My parents didn't allow Bobbsey Twins or Nancy Drew (they weren't in the library, either), and no interesting books that I knew of were being written for girls. Of course I read all of Laura Ingalls Wilder many times from the library.

Photo: 1955
Another few years and that stocking will touch the floor!
Notice the red and green construction paper Christmas banner with cut-out letters.

-my Christmas Stocking was a major present. It was one of my long tan ribbed lisle (cotton given a silky texture by mercerizing) stockings, held up with that instrument of torture, a garter belt, which I wore nearly all year long. Schools didn't allow girls to wear pants back then, even though boys wore flannel lined corduroy, thick knee socks and gum boots (greenish rubber knee-high boots that laced at the top) to school in winter. I walked to school, so my legs froze all the time, as these stockings weren't very thick or warm. They were, however, very stretchy, which made a great Christmas stocking. The same stocking was used each year, since it never recovered its shape after the first year's load of goodies.

Santa, a.k.a. my grandmother, always filled my stocking by spending money she couldn't afford from her tiny WW I soldier's widow's pension. The stocking was so long it would have cost a fortune to fill, so she improvised. Since it was thumb-tacked to the fireplace mantle, to make it appear full after it was filled she turned over a cuff at the top to whatever length was needed before re-tacking it. It always had new shiny pennies and a huge navel orange in the toe, hard candy, ribbon candy, peach blossom candy (peanut butter filling in a thin crunchy hard candy shell), a roll of Life-Savers, a popcorn ball, homemade cookies, gold-colored foil-covered chocolate coins in a little gold-colored mesh bag, a new pencil and walnuts in the shell.

You may think this was a lot of candy, but remember, it was only twice a year that I had any candy at all, at Christmas and Easter, since I couldn't go trick-or-treating. Also, one of my parents' rules was that I could only eat one piece a day, and the candy cane had to be broken up into several day's worth. Sticking out of the top of the stocking was a candy cane and best of all - a rolled up comic book!

My parents didn't allow 'funny books' (as comic books were called back then) in the house, or even for me to read them, but each Christmas a miracle occurred and they were overcome by the power of Santa. Apparently they felt that one "Little Lulu" a year wouldn't rot my mind too badly. I could happily have read one a day (or one an hour) for my entire childhood.

My best childhood memories are from my grandmother's kind, loving heart - not only on Christmas but every day that she lived.

Dad and I on my new sled in the dooryard.

Same sled, same coat, different snow.

1948 My grandmother and I (age 6, 1st grade). Mom got her first pressure cooker, later to blow its top and peel the paint off the ceiling over the stove, throwing a thin layer of food in all directions.

I'm 7, in 2nd grade. Note my trusty steed Silver in the background, also the Buckaroo board game.

I'm 8 years old, in 3rd grade.


This year's doll, "Bonnie Braids", is Dick Tracy's baby in the newspaper comic strip ('the funnies' or 'funny papers' as we called them), the only doll I asked for. Also a toy typewriter and "Go to the Head of the Class", a great board game. I loved playing it with Ruth, my favorite cousin.

You can see how thrilled I am to get 3 dolls this year. The tiny one is from the "Dolls of All Nations" monthly series at the A & P Supermarket.

I'm in 5th grade. The fireplace mantel was always a catch-all. Mail, pipe tobacco, knick-knacks, one mitten or glove, seasonal decorations, etc. The picture and motto were brought by my grandmother from New Jersey when she bought the house in 1937.

I'm a 6th grader, holding a new camera instead of a doll!

Click on this photo to enlarge it, and see Foley's Ice Cream Stand out of the window, a Route One landmark for many years.
On top of the piano is a stack of 78 rpm record albums and my View-Master.
My new board game Edu-Quiz was battery powered - when the wire was touched to the right answer, a tiny red light bulb lit up.


I'm a 7th grader. The top of the piano was as much of a catch-all as the fireplace mantle!

Mom wearing a fancy "dress-up" or "company" apron, which was put on after the cooking was done in a work apron.

I'm in 8th grade.

The only photo of my Grandmother Trout with her grandchildren.

Notice the Hews Body Co. calendar on the wall. Dad worked there for several years. It was on St. John St. in Portland, between the rotary at the end of the bridge into Portland and Union (train) Station.

I'm a 14-year-old freshman, (9th grade) going to a Christmas school dance. My dress had a shiny gold medallion pattern all over and a gold plastic belt.
We've only had a television set for a year and a half.

Rob rented a dinner jacket for the school Christmas formal - the Snow Ball.

Back in the days of 'going steady,' his and hers shirts were sold. These had a modern paisley print.

I crocheted these mittens, labeled His, Hers and Ours (a large one with no thumbs and 2 cuffs).


Riddle answer: Season's Greetings


Anonymous said...

I remember playing with those blue mittens: His, hers & ours"
The picture of Great-grampy & you on the sled is the only time I've ever seen him smile with his own teeth!
I only remember him with dentures.
The 5th grade photo of you with a book is such a natural pose. You can still be caught in that same exact position!

Anonymous said...

Those mittens are absolutely precious! Do you still have the pattern? What a wonderful post. How young were you two when you got married?