Ruby M. Cusack
of Frank Hayes and Mary Eloise (Hughson) Hayes, decorated for
Christmas, Bloomfield Station, Kings Co., NB ca. 1905 – 1906. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick P39-1 Hughson-Sherwood fonds
As we drove up Gramp’s driveway, I
noticed the lights were on in the double parlour, which meant Aunt Sadie
was probably getting everything ready for Christmas. I loved this great
big room with the sliding door and its own little parlour stove with
isinglass windows. The old furniture included a love seat filled with
horse hair that belonged to my Great Grandparents. The framed photos of
long gone relatives watched from their places on the wall. Even Queen
Victoria had a place of honour.
Aunt Sadie had the tree up and partially trimmed but needed Dad to climb
the step ladder to place the star on the top of the tree.
Once this was done, the grown-ups sat and talked about everyday topics.
I just didn’t understand those adults. It was only four more days until Christmas and they did not seem one bit excited.
I had seen a catalogue in the hall so I brought it in and I sat on the
foot stool in front of the stove, slowly turning the pages.
For weeks I had my eyes glued to the fountain pen with the 14k gold
point nib that you could either write with a large line or turn it over
and have a fine line. It had a gold-filled crown and an ink view window.
It was a real beauty. I hoped Santa Claus had one in his work shop.
Cliff was not saying much but I knew he was hoping for a six seater
varnished toboggan, made of white birch with hickory runners and a
Mum and Gram thought we were not listening as Mum said “Time is getting short and the final order from Eaton’s with two important Santa Claus gifts for those two kids has not arrived.”
Gram whispered, “Don’t worry, Dave is going to town on Monday and I am certain Duval’s or MRA’s will have the two items you need.”
That statement was really weird. Why would the ladies be concerned about where Santa Claus bought our presents?
Gram looked over and saw me listening and realized that little pitchers
have big ears so she immediately started to tell us a story, “One
Christmas, Gordon wanted a harness and a leash for the little bulldog,
called Tiny. Although your Father searched all over town on Christmas
Eve Day, he came home empty handed. The lack of this gift ruined
Gordon’s Christmas. He spent the day looking very sad with tears close
Next came a tale about Dad. Gram said. “Your
Father was probably nine years old, when he had his heart set on a
special Crokinole Board that had the games of parcheesi, checkers, snake
and ladders on the reverse side.”
Before she had a chance to continue, Dad quickly spoke up and looked at us, “The
Crokinole Board you are using is mine. If you look in the corner, you
will find my initials that I carved there with the jackknife I also
received that year.”
Time has changed many things about Christmas gifts. For one thing, I no
longer carefully remove the wrapping paper and smooth it out and fold it
to be reused next year.
Probably our parents and grandparents too, saw the changes in gift
giving. In most cases their presents were home crafted. Usually a gift
was something that was needed.
This week as I browsed through my reproduction copy of a 1897 Sears
Roebuck catalogue, I turned back the clock to pick out the gifts that
might have been suitable for my grandparents at that time period.
Since Gram would have been a young single girl, I chose a white
chemisette for her that cost 23 cents, along with a lace pin. I was
certain her four younger sisters would like the $1.45 Kilt Suits. I
picked matching navy blue ones for the twins, Ada and Tillie.
The front wheel rubber tired Veloclpede would be too small for her older
brother but the man’s size bike cost $30.00 so I would need to do some
Gramp always liked to be dressed up to go to church. In the 1890s, as a
young man, he probably wore a double breasted box style Mackintosh Coat
with a velvet collar. The embroidered Pique Teck Scarf elaborately
embroidered in silk that cost 25 cents and a 65 cent pair of overgaiters
caught my eye as a gift for him.
For the family researcher, identifying the time frame of a photo is
often a puzzle but a look through the clothing in catalogues, can often
Many a button box or jewellery case will hold pins or rings with an
emblem on them. In 1897 and other years, one could purchase Epworth
League, Christian Endeavor Society, A. O. U. W. which may have been
Ancient Order of United Workers, Masonic, Odd Fellows and other
fraternal pins through the mail.
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/cmc/index-e.html - The Virtual Museum of Canada - A History of Canadian Mail Order Catalogues 1880 to 1970 and The Vintage Christmas catalogue archive project at http://www.wishbookweb.com are
real eyeopeners to Christmases past, the gifts that may have been
received, the changing styles in dress as well as the everyday
necessities of daily life that needed to be purchased.
During the Christmas season, take time to reflect on the personal life
of ancestors, their trials and tribulations and the sadness of the empty
chair. Yet happiness reigned, with the singing of Christmas Carols, the
excitement of children, the gathering of family for the Christmas
dinner and the greeting of “Merry Christmas”.
Whelpley - Pangbourne:
Capt. David C. Whelpley, born 26 Dec 1831/33, married Harriet
Pangbourne in Saint John 28 Jul 1851. Interested in finding his parents
and/or articles on death. I know he was a sea captain in Lepreau 1871
and 1881 and had family in Mascarene. He was Lost at Sea in Feb of 1883.
Contact Laura Thomas by email at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org
Gardner - Thompson - Austin:
Fred Gardner came to New Brunswick circa 1926 - possibly a Norwegian
seaman who changed his name. Ivy Thompson, came to New Brunswick from
England with her family circa 1920. Her family returned to England after
three years, but Ivy stayed in New Brunswick with the Harry Austin
family. Ivy and Fred had a son born in 1928 in Minto. If anyone has any
information to aid me in my search, I’d really appreciate it.
Diane Richter - email email@example.com