Monday, December 26, 2011

Post Christmas

Holiday card mailed in 1911 (1st image)
Welsh builder Mark Hobbs was renovating a 3-story Victorian house in the Uplands, Swansea, when something fell through a hole in the ceiling and floated to his feet. Dated Dec. 21st, 1911, and signed by A. and G. Grobity, it was a holiday greeting inscribed, “Good Remembrance of your Friends.” Hobbs says, "I opened the card and was absolutely stunned....It must have been stuffed in a cavity under the floorboards for all that time. The card is a bit simpler than our jazzy cards of today and it makes you think about how Christmas was celebrated 100 years ago." Intrigued, the builder tried to trace any relations locally or nationally, but had no success. "I would be fascinated to find out some more about the card and who wrote it." He plans to hand over the card to the Swansea Museum along with other items found under the floorboards: a clothing tag from a local shop called Griffith & Son and a tin of Ogden's tobacco which still contained enough to fill a pipe.

Letter to Santa written in 1911 (2nd image)
Dublin resident John Byrne was installing central heating at his home in Oaklands Terrace, Terenure, when he found a scorched and folded piece of paper inside the fireplace in the front bedroom. It was a letter written by brother and sister A. and H. Howard on Christmas Eve 1911 and deposited in the chimney so that Santa would find it on his way into the house. “I want a baby doll and a waterproof with a hood and a pair of gloves and a toffee apple and a gold penny and a silver sixpence and a long toffee,” reads the letter, which also contains drawings and messages of “Good Luck.” According to the 1911 census, "A" stands for 7-year-old Alfred and "H" for 10-year-old Hannah, whose sister 13-year-old Lily did not participate. Byrne discovered the letter in 1994 and retains it as a souvenir of another time and place.

Christmas card circulating since 1950 (3rd image)
An 89-year-old retired schoolteacher, Acker Hanks remembers that the tradition began as a joke. He met Lee Kelley, who worked for the U.S. Forestry Service, when they both lived in Waverly, Texas. “We were next-door neighbors and became very good friends,” he explains. Hanks mailed Kelley a Christmas card in 1950, and Kelley mailed the card back to him in 1951. From that year on, the card changed places each year, a total of 64 times. The dates and places are listed on the card along with brief updates about their lives. Hanks married and remained in Texas, but the card traveled to Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C., where Kelley was stationed, and then to Wisconsin, where he and his wife retired. After Kelley's death a dozen years ago, Hanks continued the card tradition with his widow - until now. The card is now at a standstill. It was returned undeliverable, which Hanks hopes means that Mrs. Kelley has moved to a nursing home. Hanks plans to frame the letter as a symbol of their bond and says, “It was just a close friendship. I always have looked forward to getting the card … I don't think it'll ever leave me now."

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