Walter Crossley of Damons Point , “THE STORY TELLER” . This was published in the Marshfield Mariner December 20, 1973.

“Christmas is fast approaching.  Energy shortages financial troubles, conservation, pollution and ecology may all enter the picture and create changes in what has become the accepted standard of the seasonal celebration. I feel assured , however, that in spite of all of these, there will be a Christmas. it may be a simpler, more family-type of holiday.
I’m thinking along this line, numerous Christmas events come to mind.  I cannot recall any complete holiday season, so the following account must be accepted as incidents involving many different years.
The weather was always with us but strangely enough, I can only recall one bad day, and that was recently. My wife and I went to Springfield to be with our daughter and her family and had a slushy snowstorm in which to drive home. The back seat of course was full of grandchildren coming to Marshfield for their school holiday.”

“One of that I recall occurred many years ago. A snowstorm the day before Christmas,had left about 10” of new snow. The day itself was a perfect  Christmas picture, bright sun, dazzling white snow on every limb and bush. Fields and roads were without tracks.  The only traffic was an occasional  horse -drawn sleigh. A bitter cold day but without wind.

My Grandparents always exchanged gifts with James and Mary Magoun, whose  home was  about a mile away. My two cousins and I were sent on this errand , And I have never forgotten the beauty of the day. The blue sky and the white snow, the dark green of the pines  and the smoke from the chimneys going straight up to considerable heights.”

MY NOTE;   Today,  can you imagine sending your son and relative on this chore, and have a description such as Walters relayed back to you?

” One of the first signs of the holiday would occur about two weeks before with the annual shopping trip. this was usually  a day’s visit to Rockland. A walk to Hanover and a train from there took care of transportation. We could reach Rockland from Pembroke in about two hours. ”  MY NOTE; Today, about 15-20 minutes via auto.
” I cannot remember that stores or towns displayed any decorations. Quite a difference  from our present-day displays.”

“The first real event was the school party. This was held the last day of school. No early closing then. Two of the older boys would be delegated  a day or so ahead to bring in a tree. This usually was a red cedar from Matt Groce’s pasture. It was set up in one corner and trimmed with school-made decorations.
We popped corn on the wood stove and strung the tree with cranberries on a long string, bright colored paper was cut an glued into circles attached to each other and draped around the tree. If the star had four or six points, if the angles wings were a bit lopsided, no one cared.
The teacher gave every student some gift. Each gave one to the teacher in return. I doubt if any one of these exceeded 5 or 10 cents in value.
Some of us learned recitations appropriate to the season and a few Christmas songs were practiced.
On the big day, mothers,aunts, neighbors, and even a few men came to school for the afternoon ceremonies.”

”At home we hung our stockings on the mantle the night before . A few small gifts on Christmas day carried us through the day. One almost always found an orange in the stocking. This was very likely to be the only one we saw all winter. We always had a Christmas tree  in one corner of the living room. My brother and I usually cut this in the woods , hemlock was our favorite species. This meant a trip to hemlock valley , and while there were  plenty of small trees, we were scorned the easy way and always took the top of the highest tree we could find .  Home-made decorations were used but no lights . Father would not allow candles, and electricity was many years in the future.
The tree was set up Christmas morning. Gifts were distributed in the late afternoon after Christmas dinner.
Farther raised his own chickens. Three or four roosters would be placed in a small pen  and fattened for a time. By Christmas they would be almost as big as a small turkey. We always had our own vegetables. Mother made a tremendous steamed plum pudding eaten plain or with whipped cream, this always finished  the meal.  We had aunts, uncles,cousins,grandparents and an in-law or two for dinner. The children were frequently banished to another room and a table of their own.”

“After the dinner, with dishes washed, the men through with their after-dinner  smokes, the big moment would arrive. Someone would be given the honor of handling out the gifts. These were very simple compared to present days.
Parent received from their children but the presents were small or home-made.  I found that a nicely whittled fork stick was excellants for aunts and Grandma. These worked beautifully for taking the clothes out of the wash boilers.  One would last just about a year and costing nothing.  A plug of tobacco or a bandana did for the men.
We children could depend on one main gift from our parents, skates,  a sled, a cart.  I received a pair of skis and used them so many years I actually wore them out.
Many of our gifts were practical. What youngster today would be thrilled by a couple of sets of heavy long johns ?
Hand knit mittens were always welcome, last years were getting thin, and a new pair of overshoes were something to brag about. Simple games made their appearance , parcheesi, and dominoes were favorites. In my case, books were a favorite, a real good Christmas would net me eight or ten, probably none not costing more than a quarter, but to me  they were priceless, and could be read and reread for the rest of the winter.
Compared to today’s  holiday celebrations , ours were very simple. We celebrated for one day only and were back to normal the next day.
I  think the Christmas season brought families together and meant as much, in spite of our simple parties as the elaborate and long drawn-out holiday season of the present.”
“So, Merry Christmas to all.”

Walter Crossley, “the story teller” of Damons Point.

Copied from the ”  The Story behind the Story Teller” Walter Crossley , Damons Point, Marshfield Ma. This story was published in the Marshfield Mariner newspaper, December 20, 1973.


How I can relate to Walter’s Christmas’ , “Practical, simple things” , being a product of The Great Depression, and a youngster during WW ll.   Socks, overshoes, mittens.

W. Ray Freden, Seaview, 70 years. Down East 17 years.


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