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Memories of Canadice NY

A Christmas Memory

By Mabel Belcher Proctor - The Canadice Chronicle

November 1995

Christmas back in 1919, when I was three years old, was so peaceful and yet very exciting!

The first thing I remember was my sister Phyllis, three years older than me and me coming down stairs in our long flannel night gowns on Christmas morning, seeing with surprise a Christmas tree in the living room.

It wasn’t there last night, but now it was beautiful with strings of white popcorn and colored crepe paper. Also some strings of tinsel and golden popcorn balls made our eyes open wide. Hanging in front were our two little stockings stuffed with an orange, a banana, Christmas cookies and fudge.

Under the tree, not wrapped, was doll furniture painted white, made by our carpenter Daddy. There were two rag dolls dressed in pretty dresses and two packages wrapped in red tissue paper with our names on them. Phyllis and I opened them to find each had a new nightgown and a new dress. Mama had made them. Nothing came from a store, but two little girls were happy and knew we were loved very much. I still thought Santa Claus had brought everything. Perhaps Phyllis knew where all this came from.

Mama always played the piano and we sang Christmas songs with her.

After we stated school a District No. 9 in Canadice, a mile and a half down the road, we had so few children there that some times we all had Christmas with the children at the school on the cross road. I was always happier to have it at our own school, with the children I knew. We had a big tree that we all trimmed with strings of popcorn and tinsel but there was no crepe paper as we had candles that clamped on to the branches. We had to be very careful and we were - we never had a fire.

We all gave the teacher a present. Phyllis and I each gave her a handkerchief. By 1922 we had a Model T Ford car and went shopping once before Christmas. Mama and Daddy gave Phyllis and me each $1.00.

Our teacher was Miss Gertrude Dunlap and Phyllis and I bought her the two handkerchiefs that cost 5 cents each. We felt so rich, we could get something for each of our classmates and Mama and Daddy. We could even give each other a present.

We came home tired but happy from our one day shopping and seeing all the beautiful Christmas decorations in the stores and on the streets. I liked to hear the Salvation Army Santa Claus ring his bell and dropped 5 cents in his pot.

About every two years, Daddy gave us each a pair of boys’ above-the-knee rubber boots for Christmas. I tried to make him think I liked mine but I didn’t. He thought his girls needed them to walk to and from school the 1 1/2 miles in the deep snow.

We left our shoes at school. They did keep our feet and legs nice and dry even when we jumped in the deep snow at the end of each gully.

Miss Dunlap boarded with Delevan and Violet Alger, parents of Alberta Alger Clawson, George Alger, and Ellis Alger, until she learned she and her husband were going to have a baby. She is Norma Alger Goodman of Honeoye.

Miss Dunlap came to board at our house. My parents already boarded Lafe Sullivan’s twin nephews, Standish and Stanley Davis. They slept in the south bedroom so Mama had Miss Dunlap sleep in another bed in my sister and my north bed room.

I, like Ellis Alger, wondered about Miss Dunlaps black gloves she always put on to go to the outhouse. She came back with them off. Well, I used to like to watch her get dressed in the morning, as she got up first. I saw her take store bought tissue from a box under her bed. She put some in each glove, slipped them on and went to the outhouse. She always came back with them off. If Ellis reads this, his mystery is solved: she just didn’t like our stiff Sears catalogue paper.

Christmas was about the same each year, no matter who was the teacher, except each year we spent a little more for gifts and decorations. We spend so much these days. I think we should, as we used to, take time to pray the little prayer my Mother taught me:

Dear God,

Let not our hearts be busy inns

With no room for thee,

But cradles for the living Christ

And his Nativity.


With love and prayers, I wish you all a Merry Christmas.