From the pens of babes come their letters to Santa

Echoes of our past

William Wangemannfor The Beacon William Wangemannfor The Beacon The Christmas season with all its traditions is without a doubt one of the most charming and delightful time of the year. With elaborate lighted decorations adorning homes from one end of the city to the other, parties and shoppers rushing to and fro it’s a time like no other. Then, of course, there is for children, the coming of Santa Claus.

But just how is Santa Claus supposed to know what to bring each child? It’s quite simple; the children sit down and write him a letter. And do they write! Millions of letters addressed to Santa Claus at the North Pole pour into post offices across the country. Many newspapers have a letters to Santa column at Christmas time and the local media was no exception. As you read these letters its quite clear that children do understand what is going on in the world around them.

During the gut wrenching years of the great depression the letters children wrote to Santa Claus reflected the children’s understanding that times were hard and that maybe even Santa Claus couldn’t really afford too much. In the year 1932 a little boy wrote the following letter: “Dear Santa, I’m a little boy 7 years old. Don’t bring me much this Christmas take it to the poor children. Please Santa bring me a basketball, a tool chest, a set of Lincoln Logs and a Christmas tree.” Almost every one of the children assured Santa Claus that they had been very good all year long, in fact one little boy said “I think I’ve been good all year. At least I tried “and then went on to ask for just a school bag, a Christmas tree, candy and nuts. Another 7 year old boy cautioned Santa not to forget his new baby brother because he explained “he wasn’t here last year”. A little girl wrote the following somewhat strange letter to Santa. ‘My dear Santa, I have been a very good girl this year and would like a real airplane and a purple cow. And don’t forget my little brother, some candy but I don’t like nuts. Signed “Your little girl”

It was not uncommon during the depression years for children to ask for clothes or possibly just a few pencils and a pad of paper. Some children started out their letter by saying “Dear Santa, I want to thank you for the gifts you brought me last year.” A small boy in the Elkhart Lake area informed Santa that he and his family had moved there from the Random Lake area and he just wanted to be sure that Santa Claus was aware of his new address. Even though many of the children’s requests were very meager during those lean days many of them did not forget to ask Santa to bring gifts to their brothers and sister and all the poor children. By today’s standards when children ask for lap top computers, expensive video games or perhaps their own cell phone a little boy who in 1930 asked for a pencil box, 2 tablets and 5 pencils is a clear demonstration of how children’s wants have changed. But even back in the hungry days of 1932 a little girl wrote the following letter to Santa “Dear Santa, I have been a very good girl all year and wish you would bring me a new Ford V8, a teddy bear, a pink elephant, nuts and candy and please don’t forget my little sister. Your little friend.”

During the war years the tone of the children’s letters to Santa changed drastically. Many of them asked Santa Claus not to forget their Daddy who was in the air corps or perhaps in the Army, Navy or Marine Corps. One small girl said her uncle was stationed in Hawaii and even though this was very far away, would he please bring him a gift. Young boys began asking for such things as an army helmet, or a toy rifle and a tank that you could wind up. Again the contents of the children’s letters clearly reflected that they understood that a great war was raging.

In the 1950’s, at the start of the atomic age, in a letter to Santa published in the New York Times, a nine year old boy asked for “2 atomic bombs, 2 pistols and a very sharp knife”. A small girl asked for an atomic bomb set and cautioned Santa to make sure the bombs in the set would work! Fortunately none of these requests were granted!

It might be noted that most of these letters were taken from local newspaper archives and were written by Sheboygan area children.

Now if you’ll excuse me as soon as this column is written and sent off I have a letter to write, to Santa Claus!

Joy and I wish you all a very Merry and Blessed Christmas

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