Holiday Seasons of Yesteryear

An editorial in the December 25, 1867 issue of the New-York Daily Tribune looked back at the “time when the approach of Christmas was a season of immense bustle and commotion…

Published December 3, 2015 5:00 AM
3 min read


yesteryearAn editorial in the December 25, 1867 issue of the New-York Daily Tribune looked back at the “time when the approach of Christmas was a season of immense bustle and commotion…

By Paul Hicks

An editorial in the December 25, 1867 issue of the New-York Daily Tribune looked back at the “time when the approach of Christmas was a season of immense bustle and commotion…for the festival was then rather a day for banqueting and social gathering than for the giving of presents, as it is now.”

It is fun to recall how different the “olden” times were, especially for those of us who have enjoyed a plentitude of holiday seasons. Despite some notable differences, however, the more things change, the more they remain the same, as indicated by some snippets taken from the Rye Chronicle.

December 17, 1910:
“For sale: A pair of well-trained goats plus single and double harness [perhaps to pull a goat cart]. Apply at the Chronicle office.”

“Special until January 1, 1911: Fine Maine potatoes-$2.00 a barrel.”

“Officer Thomas Courcey reported seeing a seal disporting himself in the Sound and on the rocks opposite Rye Beach. Fact!”

“Chester Billington is taking advantage of the good sleighing season to purchase two cutters to use in connection with his hacking business.” [A different meaning of “hacking.”]

December 20, 1924:
Rye’s Kirklawn Inn advertised a “special Christmas and New Year’s dinner for $2.”

Donen’s Music Shop suggested Victrolas for Christmas gifts as well as Victor records, including “Santa Maria” by Enrico Caruso.

Seymour Electric advised that “lighting your Christmas tree electrically is not only much safer than with candles, it provides a much more beautiful effect.”

O’Dell’s Hardware sold Lionel Electric trains for $6.75-$35.25 and Flexible Flyer sleds for $1.50 and up.

Peters Brothers promised “prompt delivery of just the right grade and kind of coal you order.”

December 27, 1924:
“The best New Year’s news for many residents of Rye is the announcement that the Westchester County Parks Commission is negotiating to buy the amusement parks at Rye Beach and beautify the adjacent land.”

Movies shown at the Rye Playhouse during Christmas week included “Kentucky Days,” “Don’t Call it Love,” “Captain Blood” and “Yolanda” with Marion Davies.

December 18, 1926
New York Telephone advised: “For the suburbanites the toll call saving a trip to town is the ‘long forward pass of the Christmas season.’ Modern stores have efficient telephone sales forces and busy people can make big gains in time and energy by ‘playing the overhead game’-shop by telephone.”

At Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre, you could watch the movie “Tin Gods” together with “the usual five acts of high class vaudeville.”

December 31, 1934
Turkeys were on sale at Gristedes at 33¢/lb.

You could buy a 1935 Buick for $795 and up.

Mrs. Caroline O’Day was named one of the ten most outstanding women in the country [the Rye Post Office is named in her honor].

“Peck’s Bad Boy,” starring Jackie Cooper was at the Rye Playhouse.

December 19, 1941
The Frock Shop advertised “practical wartime gifts-something warm to wear-such as Braemar sweaters starting at $9.95.”

New York Telephone cautioned that, “Despite provision of extra operators and circuits, there will be extended delays on many long distance circuits, particularly to points in the west, south and in Canada on Christmas Eve and Day.”

“The Maltese Falcon” with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor was playing at the Rye Playhouse.

December 24, 1953
The annual Christmas editorial by a member of Rye’s clergy, written by The Rev. Dr. Wendell Phillips, rector of Christ’s Church began: “There are two things uppermost in the minds of Americans today: Christmas and Communism, Santa Claus and Russia, the Season of Goodwill and a Time of Destruction, the Christ Child and the Power of Satan, a Baby and a Bomb…”

Change some of those words, and it could be an accurate description of the mood of the country entering this holiday season. However, Shakespeare has provided us with a magical antidote to such perplexities:

Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes

Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,

This bird of dawning singeth all night long;

And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,

The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,

No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,

So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.


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