Saturday, December 22, 2007

Knights of Columbus Christmas

This article made me think of my late father, who would have been a year old in 1923. He had a subtle sense of humor, which extended to a remarkable ability to tell a tall tale with a straight face. More than once, he told me that one Christmas, they had no money for presents, so he was given coal in his stocking rather than be told that there was no Santa. When I expressed doubt, he insisted with a matter-of-fact response - that's just the way it was. However far-fetched it seems, that fact is that they were poor people, living on Everett street in hard years. When my father was old enough to get a job, he gave his mother his entire paycheck, and she returned fifty cents to him as an allowance. He had two younger brothers, and stayed home with them while his mother worked nights. Given what I know, the heartbreaking story of the lump of coal in his Christmas stocking isn't so hard to believe. He certainly could have gone to a Knights of Columbus Christmas party like the one described below - he was among the many needy children of the time in Jamaica Plain.

Boston Daily Globe December 23, 1923

Santa Claus Fills Cup Of Happiness For 700 At Jamaica Plain K. of C. Tree.

"I wanna dolly, and a doll carriage, and a doll houth," spoke up one of 700 children who went to the Christmas party of Jamaica Plain Council, Knights of Columbus, yesterday afternoon to make known to Santa Claus the things which they expected of him for Christmas - a list that they have been preparing for several weeks past.

The little speaker found that Santa was a good old chap, and that not only did he listen well, but right away drew [?] from his pile of presents the little dolly and house, and to the amazement of the little tot handed them over to her. Her face beamed up with joy as Santa said "You may take these now and I will bring a carriage Christmas eve, so that you may have it when you awake in the morning."

She thanked him and was about to start on her way, when she sort of hesitated. Santa Claus' eye at once noticed, and he inquired the reason. She then told him that she hoped that he wouldn't forget her little brother Dick, who was injured, and who prays every day that Santa will remember him with some toys.

"Last Christmas when mama was home she told us always to pray that Santa would come and leave us some toys. So Dick has been praying every day," she added.

Santa turned around and handed out a horse and cart, an airplane, a monkey and a big bag of candy for Dick. The little hands tried to embrace all the nice toys, but they were not large enough to hold them all. She asked one of Santa's assistants to keep her presents until she could run home to Dick with his toys.

Although Santa was busy hearing another little one's desires, he directed the assistant to tie the toys in a bundle and carry them home for the little one.

"Have to talk with Dick, and if he wants anything else, you come back and tell me," he said.

She was very happy, and so were the some 699 others that made known their wishes and received the attention of Santa. Several boys who wanted to be printers received printing sets. Others wanted fire engines, horses, autos, and airplanes; they got them, and each received a big bag of candy with them.

It was the zealous labor of J.Thomas McLaughin, DGK, and his hard-working committee that brought joy to the throng who covered the lawn in front of the Columbus Club. W. Frank Connell wired up the big tree.

John J. Sheehan, GK, was in charge of the party. Edward Kelly represented Santa Claus, and he had the assistance of the Queen of Hearts, a Jamaica Plain young women's organization, and the following members of the council; William Cassidy, Joseph Doyle, John Downey, Thomas Magner, Carl Wilson, Michael Haverty, James Judge, Eugene Sheehan, William C. Dolan, John Sullivan, Arthur Paul, Michael Doherty, William Coady, Daniel Kelly, Leo Gartland and George Holland.

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