I REMEMBER CHRISTMAS
IN LOS ANGELES...
Donna (Hague) Wendt
Randy Seaver posted these questions on his geneamusings blog at http://www.geneamusings.com/2008/12/this-weeks-advent-calendar-of-genea.html and I found his answers very entertaining. Evidently they originated at Tom J. McEntee’s blog last year at http://destinationaustinfamily.blogspot.com/tionaustinfamily.blogspot.com/ (see December 2007 link called "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories." I believe Jasia also helped originate the tradition. Here, for posterity, are some of the same questions, but with my own responses:
Did you ever send a letter to Santa Claus?
Yes, I wrote letters to Santa when young. Don’t know what ever happened to them, or if I got what I requested. When we got older, we’d write a “wish list” for our parents to peruse. In 1948 Dad set up a photo op of my brother, Dick, and I posting a big letter to Santa at the corner mail box.
Did you ever visit Santa and "make a list?"
I used to visit Santa at the Department stores like Broadway or May Co. on
Do you still believe in Santa Claus? When did you find out "the truth" about Santa Claus?
I definitely believed in Santa when young. He would come to our house and give us presents on Christmas Eve. As I got a little older I wondered where Uncle Wally disappeared to one Christmas Eve, and he said he had to go to the store, so missed Santa’s visit. I always wanted to go out and see the reindeer. Then the next year I saw that Santa’s shoes were wingtip just like my Dad’s. In fact he had a Masonic ring, like Dad. Santa's face was a bad mask, but if you want to believe, you don't worry about the small stuff. At one point I asked my grandmother, Minnie (Wallace) Hague, if Santa were real. She said his spirit is real and he lives in our hearts. That was enough to confuse me and keep me thinking positively for a long while… a good answer so not to be too disappointed.
I do remember seeing snow on the mountains surrounding
Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights?
Yes, but probably not in the early 1950s. I can’t remember any. Later, we did put up house lights and a porch decoration… or Dad did. We made a Christmas Photo card one year showing all four of us assisting with the job. Dad used a tripod. That was probably about 1960. Other neighbors had Christmas lighting, but I don’t think any really went “all out.” In the 1950’s Dad used to drive us to
Did your family send Christmas Cards?
Yes, and my Dad always created them. Since about 1940 he took a photo and made a Christmas card out of it. He had a dark room in the garage for his photo developing and printing – always black and white. By the time I was born the card was on hard paper stock with crinkle cut edges. When I got older I used to help with the production, especially rinsing all the cards in the bathtub to remove the chemicals and then putting the cards (with some degree of moisture probably) in a card press that we would screw down tight with wing nuts. They came out of the press all flat and ready for us to stuff the envelopes that my mother addressed in her beautiful handwriting.
Yes, We usually had the cards in a basket of some sort on the coffee table in the front room. One basket was made out of the cards that were crocheted together to form a basket. Maybe Aunt Fern made it. She sewed all my clothes until after I went to Jr. High School. A few times we put the cards on the louvers on the doors between the Living Room and the Dining room. I think that was my idea. For a Christmas Card photo we taped the cards on the dining room drapes and moved the dining table out of the way. I loved the Christmas cards and before any were ever thrown away I would collect the prettiest ones and make other things of them, like place mats, or most commonly, littler gift enclosure cards for the next Christmas. I still save as many of the pretty cards as I can.
Do you still send Christmas cards?
Yes. But since I joined the Army in 1974, I’ve made a “Christmas Letter.” I would type a page and get some copies made. I remember looking hard for a copy machine when stationed in
Did your family have any traditional dishes for the holidays?
We always had turkey or ham. Since we also often had Thanksgiving at our house (unless we were up at the farm (grandparents - Senkers) we might alternate. It seems we probably also had Easter at our house, and that would be ham. Mom set up the dining room table, with a nice white linen tablecloth, and Mom’s Franciscan China with the rose pattern. We’d have a flower arrangement before the meal from the flowers from our yard. Usual guests every year were Grandpa Pearce, Aunt Pearl and Uncle Pat, Aunt Fern and Uncle Fred, and Grandma Hague (Minnie). The only extra friends I remember were once or twice Mr. Mackown a roomer at Grandma’s boarding house downtown; Bob Andrich from across the street once; and Bobby Ledesma, a boyfriend (and jockey) in Sr year High School once. One year, at least, Uncle Wally and Aunt Sue with Barbara and Janice were over; also Patti, Carol and Aunt LaVerne. Here is a photo of dinner in the dining room with Dad dishing out the turkey, Mom in the front, Dick at left, and Grandparents Senker on the right. Anyway, besides the turkey we always had delicious hot butterflake rolls, mashed potatoes (I loved the homemade lumps), and a vegetable such as frozen peas or perhaps green beans. Maybe even a green bean casserole with crispy onion rings from a can. I know cranberry sauce from a can was always on the table, along with black olives. I always would put the black olives on my fingers to eat them. I don’t know if we had sweat potatoes, I never liked them then. In fact I never liked or ate turkey because I hated turkeys ever since they jumped on my bare back when I was about 4 years old at the farm. I ran away from the turkeys even though my Dad was on the barn roof with Papa Roy yelling –“Don’t run away!” I didn’t eat turkey until I went to college. We always had pumpkin pie for desert. Usually with honey from the farm hives, and walnuts on top, also from the farm. The walnuts went into a glass nut grinder and you turned it upside down and turned the key to grind up the nuts. We also had vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. My father loved mince meat pie, so we probably had that too. He loved the mince meat pies that his Aunt Rose (Wallace) Johnson, in
Although not at such a sophisticated meal as Christmas dinner, but when my brother, Dick, and I ate with the Stewarts, in/from
Did you have a real tree, or was it artificial? How big was the tree? Who decorated the tree?
We always had a real tree, usually a Douglas fir. And always green. Maybe it was partially flocked a time or two. My Dad always fixed it up so it looked perfect in the house. It usually was just the right height so the top to the tree was just low enough so the glass topper could be placed on the top without touching the ceiling. Dad would drill holes in the trunk of the tree and stick extra branches in the holes to “fill out the tree.” It stood in a base of water in a metal tree stand which had to be tended to every day. It would be glorious to see the tree at night from the street with all it’s lights at the big bay window. Mom had a tree skirt to go around it and provided a pretty place to put the presents. We would all go to the Christmas tree lot and select the tree, then bring it home on top of the car. One year Dad used a photo of Dick and I selecting a Christmas tree on