Christmas at Home
The tree was secured on top of the folding sewing table, at the west living room window. presents were arrayed under the table. Check out the flower and leaf printed wallpaper in these 1939 photos. When we awoke on Christmas morn, we would wait on the bottom steps of the stairs until the whole family was awake. Then one was assigned to go into the dark living room to plug in the tree lights while not peaking at all that Santa had left. Stockings were were the brown knee length type so there was plenty of room for an orange in the toe, plenty of candy and nuts, and a few small toys.
The Manger Scene was an important part of the Wells Family tradition at 421 Oak Street. A living reenactment took place in 1944 for the camera. Miss Nell Orwig, the Grade School vocal teacher, and fellow church member brought the necessary cloths for costumes and setting to our home. When all was perfect Mom took a series of photos; the best seen here. "The Holy Family" in a well posed manger scene with Bobby (6½), Esther (8), and Peter (3 mos.).
Each year Esther (who understood the story) moved the miniature figures to their respective positions around the homemade stable (made by Mom from an orange crate) to follow the birth of Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Gospels.
(The following letter draft was found in Mom's papers.)
Miss Mary Curran
100-27 Ave N.
December 31, 1942
We had a very merry Christmas too. I got a ironing board, colored pencils, xxx doll knife forks and spoons, leather purse, picture puzzles, wood letters, gold locket ( will you send me a tiny head picture of you to put in it?), big book of stories, checkers and various other things. Esther Wells
I got a big dump truck, tinke r toys, tools, nested blocks, slate, and other things. Bobby
Nearly all of the above was typed by the kids. But it was too much of a strain on me. I had to sit right by them, spell out the words for Esther and point themout for Bob. We did have a nice Christmas. There weren't as many Santa gifts, but what they got will be appreciated more, I think. I had bought two of those musical things, intending one for each stocking. When filling the socks Christmas eve, I found one of them was broken. So Bobby got none in his stocking, but got the one from you later. I asked in every dime store and hardware store in Keokuk for a pair of pliers for Bobby. I finally found a pair in Monky Ward but they were selling them only to farmers and defense workers. I couldn't lie. I came home to Hamilton and found just the pair I've always wanted myself. Bobby found them in his stocking. I also had a nice little hammer for B. and scissors for E. But I forgot to put them in the socks. Next day I laid them under the tree. The Kids insist Grandma put them there!
We put up our tree about a week before Christmas. Then it seemed the packages aways had to be wraped when all the rest of the family was around. That meant closed doors, “keep out” warnings etc. As they were wrapped they were placed under the table on which our tree stood. As soon as he saw the package and heard it rattle, Bobby knew without doubt that it was tinker toys. Without fibbing, I tried to make him think it might be something else. But he KNEW.
Since Christmas I have tried to order a spring motor for the tinkertoys from the factory. But they can make no more for the duration. The set is the biggest one they have. You should see the things we can make which really work!
Christmas morning, E. & B. see what Santa left (this time the dump truck and ironing board) and see what is in their stockings. Then we eat breakfast with as few dishes as possible and Jack helps Dick get through the paper route in a hurry. Mother and I do the dishes and start the dinner. Then we open the packages. This year Eshter handed out the gifts because she could read the names on most of the tags. We all printed so she could. – Then she knew all the pk’s by memory anyway!
Early in Christmas week Esther suddenly thought of some important business to talk over with her Dad. She and Bobby had not bought a gift for me! So I was instructed to give them a dollar and get one of the Girl Scouts to help them buy me a present. They bought a metal decorated box to dispense Kleenex. I can fasten it to the wall by my bed. Then when Esther wants a Hanky at midnight and I can hardly open my eyes, I can reach for one of those! Dick gave me some bowl covers. Jack, a small egg beater-bowl. John gave me achimes business which we now use to say supper is ready.
Esther was thrilled with the present to Davey. She thought it was wonderful for the baby to be remembered. And she gets more fun than you might think with the tiny doll and the tea set.
Esther was thrilled over the first school program she has been in. The 1st and 2nd graders sat on the stage for the whole pagent of the Christmas story. They sang “Away in a Manger” and a few other songs at appropriate times. They were all dressed in choir robes made of two tea towels and a big black crepe paper bow. But the excitement of the thot of it gave her a touch of asthma. I told Her she should have a nap after school to rest for the program that night. I had to give her some pills, light the vaporizer, put up a tent, and pat her back to get her coughing and wheezing stopped so she could sleep. I kept my fingers crossed but she got along all right that night.
E. & B. just sent the stationary and stamps. Their Grandmother sent the other things. We all thought the music box was swell. My Aunt Esther in Des Moines has one almost identical.
You once wrote you wanted that ancestor information I got from the Bible out at Billy and Charlie's.
This is it:
Lucy Horner born April 9, 1792
In Chesterfield Co. Va.
Married Zepharriah Alvis
11 children – 1 set twins
2 died in infancy
of these 11 our ancestor was
Henry Jefferson Alvis
Born Dec. 7, 1811
First born of Lucy.
Married Electa Daniels in Quincy, Ill
July 21, 1839
Went to Lee Co. Ia soon after
Their children were;
Uncle Will, George, etc. (ask your MOM)
Our Grandpa was;
Audubon Spencer Alvis
Born July 3, 1855
Married Laura Ellen Good
Their kids were Sidney
You and your Mom can finish
I can feel a little proud of that family tree. It would be interesting if we could get some glimpse of the life of some of those folk. Just think, that farm of Billy and Charlie might be called the family estate. It has been owned by Alvises for a century!
I can tell you about Lucy’s other children too. Their names, who they married and when they died.
Write again, the Kids love to hear from you.
Oh yes, I want to know where that spoon you sent Bobby, came from and what it means. What happened in 1932?
I've started inquiries finally to see if Davy can have a new leg. Probably won't hear before the middle of January.
Love to all
Did you send to the Baking Soda Co. for birds for E. & B?
Some one did & they each got a nice set of Bird cards.
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