I thought you might enjoy this story from “Some Reminiscing of Mine” by James E. Greet, February, 1991.
“We went to Grandma’s for Christmas one winter. I was probably three or four years old. It was about nine miles up the mountain to Grandma’s. Mom drove the team and buggy. The buggy didn’t have a top, but mom wrapped us kids in plenty of quilts, and I don’t remember being a bit cold. Mom drove, so she had a lap robe and a good pair of mittens. When we arrived, Grandpa Pyle took care of the team for us. Marjorie and I slept on the floor. We each got an orange in our stocking Christmas morning, among other things – a rare treat…There was also a toy saw that wasn’t sharp enough to cut anything. Another item that was a real treat was a barber-pole peppermint candy stick.
Us kids seldom got any toys except at Christmas time. In those days of the 1920’s, your toys lasted a year or you played with whatever was at hand. There were cast-iron cars, toy stoves, and animals. And then there were a variety of wind-up toys. One of my very special toys was a wind-up train. It had a steam engine, three cars, a caboose, and a track to run on. I played and played with it, until it fell apart. Another wind-up toy was a crazy car that made funny patterns. Then there was the toy monkey that would go up and down a string when I pulled on the string. Once I got a toy caterpillar with rubber tracks. I had hours of fun with it.
Mom always had a Christmas tree at home. Dad would go out and cut a nice little cedar tree and bring it in and set it up in the living room for us. Mom and us kids would decorate it. For lights on our tree, we used twisted candles about five inches long, held in place with a little metal spring clip holder. The candles were red and green for Christmas. These were lit for a short time on Christmas eve. They were watched very closely because of the danger of fire, but they were very pretty with the house lights turned down.
One Christmas I got a pop-gun that shot corks, and George got an Erector set that had a little electric motor that was powered by a dry cell battery. Then there was a pair of army-green mittens hand-knit from Grandma Pyle. I can’t remember what Marjorie got, some girl things, I suppose, maybe a doll. Another Christmas, mom had Uncle Oscar Hoback make a couple of sleds for us kids. One was a little smaller than the other one, both painted green. Uncle Oscar had his own blacksmith shop at Manderson, Wyoming. That was about fifty miles from where we lived.
After we unwrapped our toys, Uncle Jim never failed to come to each of us and take an interest in each present that we received.
I remember one Christmas of riding in Grandad Pyle’s Model T Ford. I rode in the back seat with grandma. The car did have side curtains, but we needed heavy coats to keep warm. Grandma and I had an old-fashioned foot warmer that used a couple of special bricks that were heated on the cook stove before we left. I remember grandma asking me to share with her as “her feet got cold too.” When we came up the last steep hill going into the ranch, one of the tire chains had a cross chain come loose on one end, and it clattered and clattered. Grandma asked me what that noise was, but I didn’t know. Uncle Jim told her, and I thought “now I will be able to tell someone the next time when someone asks me.”
Back then, everyone used just plain water in the radiator. It was an absolute must to drain the radiator when you got to your destination, or else you would have a ruined motor with a crack in it. There was an advantage to this, for in zero weather, you could use hot water to fill the radiator, and this would help start a cold car.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed some family history… and this Christmas season, you make some memories with your family!