December 2016

A spring 1912 Comet article addressed the reason why area East Tennessee farmers were poor. The piece was addressed to Mr. Tennessee Farmer: “The reason why this occurs is always a vital question, so I stopped beside the road, let my old mare browse at some nearby sedge grass while I figured it out. Well, I figured it out and here is my explanation.

“The average Tennessee farmer gets up early in the morning after being aroused by the alarm of a Connecticut clock. Without haste, he buttons his Chicago suspenders to his Detroit overalls, puts on a pair of cowhide shoes made in Ohio and washes in a Pittsburgh tin basin.

Mr. Farmer “uses Cincinnati soap and dries on a cotton towel made in New Hampshire; sits down to a Grand Rapids table; eats hot biscuits made with western flour, Kansas City bacon and Indiana grits that have been fried in Omaha lard.

There's more. “He cooks on a St. Louis stove, buys Irish potatoes grown in Michigan and canned fruits put up in California that have been seasoned with Rhode Island spices. He claps on his old wool hat made in Philadelphia, harnesses his Missouri mule that has been fed on Iowa corn, with New York harness. He plows his farm, covered by a Massachusetts mortgage, with an Indiana plow.

I am not through. “He plows his farm, covered by a Massachusetts mortgage, with an Indiana plow. At night he crawls under a New Jersey blanket and is kept awake by a Tennessee hound dog, the only home product on the place, and wonders why he stays so poor. The answer is quite simple.

“The moral to this story is to patronize home industries. Your main focus should be to spend your money where it will give you a market for what you grow and thus make money and increase the value of your farm. This is public spirit at its best and the highest form of patriotism.”

Royal Baking Power Ad from 1912

On another note, this same farmer sits down to read the rest of his local newspaper. He glances over what appears to be an article that quickly transitions into an advertisement: “Facts and Fiction – Experiences of Johnson City, Citizens Are Easily Proven to Be Factual.” The most superficial investigation, he says, will prove that the following statement from a resident of Johnson City is true.

“Read it and compare evidence from Johnson City people with testimony from strangers living so far away that you cannot investigate the facts of the case. Many more citizens of Johnson City will endorse Doans Kidney Pills:

“William H. Hodges, 108 E. Millard St., Johnson City, Tennessee was quoted in the newspaper as saying: “I still recommend Doan's Kidney Pills and I am pleased to confirm all I said about them some years ago when I publicly told of my experience.”

“The cure I received at that time has been permanent. I believe that excessive standing was the root cause of my kidney trouble. I suffered from a dull pain across the small of my back and I could not rest well at night, as no position seemed comfortable to me.

“I saw Doan's Kidney Pills advertised and, thinking they might help me, got a supply from the Whitehouse Drug Co. They proved to be just what I needed and it took them only a short time to drive away my kidney complaint.”

“For sale by all dealers. Price 30 cents. Foster-Milburn Company, Buffalo, New York, Sole agents for the United States. Remember the name Doan's and take no other.”

Note: Whitehouse Drug Co. was located at 211 E. Main Street in 1912. (site later became the Glamor Shop.) The drugstore offered “pure drugs, soda water, toilet articles, rubber goods, trusses, cameras and supplies.” Their logo was “Registered Druggists – Always on the Job.”

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A few days before Christmas 1907, shortly after the noon hour, the suburban home of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Hall, located about nine miles west of the city, was the scene of a beautiful wedding. Miss Cordelia Hall was united in marriage to Mr. Robert L. Dyer of this city. Rev. S.G. Ketron officiated with Miss Cora Allison serving as bridesmaid and Mr. G, S. Galliher as best man.

Wedding Feast

Following the ceremony, a wedding feast was served in superior old plantation style when quantity follows quality, being a close second. The bridal party returned to this city about six o'clock. Among those in attendance from here were: W.0. Dyer and wife, H.W. Webb and wife, H.H. Dyer and wife, J.P. Dyer, G.S. Galliher, Miss Cora Allison and others.

Planters' Hotel

At six o'clock that Christmas evening, in the parlors of the Planters' Hotel (once located at 110-12 S. Railroad Street, just a short distance from the Windsor Hotel), E.B. Hensley, proprietor and a select assemblage witnessed the marriage of Sir Charles Johnson of Ironton, OH to Mrs. Elbera McAlpin of Birmingham, AL.

The contracting parties came to this city Tuesday night on train No. 42 and expected to get married that night, but the vehicle was four hours late and delayed the ceremony. Following the service, Mr. and Mrs. McKee gave a dinner in the couples honor.

Those present were Rev. and Mrs. James J. Robinette, Pastor of the First Methodist Church (located downtown at Main and Roan streets where King's Department Store once resided), Mr. and Mrs. Hartman, W.B. Coon and wife, Mrs. Goldie Posttewait, and Mr. and Mrs. A.D. McKee. The bride and groom spent several days in the city and were honored at several dinners while present. 

Surprise Party

On the day after Christmas in 1907, several young people gave Miss Lucile McCown a surprise party at her 105 E. Unaka Avenue home. Her father was an employee of Wofford Brothers. The evening was pleasantly spent and delightful refreshments were served.

Those present were Misses Sarah Broyles, Rhea Hunter, Glennie Pence, Edith Barton, Ethel Barton, Lena Sanders, Ruth Lyle. Winnie Wheeler, Lucy Sitton, Martha Allen Martin, Mary Hardin. Messrs. Faw Broyles, Fred King, Dave Moser, John Wade, George Wade, Guy Seaver, Elmer Beals, Steve Sanders, Allen Hurlburt, Lonnie McCown and Ward Friberg.

(On a personal note, Dr. Friberg, physician and surgeon of the old Appalachian Hospital on Boone Street, proudly delivered me on Oct. 22, 1942. Mom recalled that he was very short, extremely polite and smiled a lot.) 

Home From College

The Christmas holidays brought college children home for the holidays to spend the festival week with their loved ones. Among those returning that week were Misses Rhea Hunter, Emma Lee Weiler, Glennie Pense, Frae Matson, Dora Campbell and Sarah Brace Coe. Messrs. included Oran Ward, James Young, Bronce McLain, Blaine Milborn, Faw Broyles, Hunter Galloway and Loyal Setton.

A Christmas Tree

A few days before Christmas at four to six p.m., the parlors of the Planters' Hotel were filled with children, all of whom were pleasure bent. Mr. Andrew and Lillian McKee, proprietors of the hotel, gave out Christmas trees to the schoolmates, which included their own children, Louis and Adolph. The Christmas tree and parlor were beautifully decorated. After two hours spent at play, each guest received a package from under the large tree and went merrily on his or her way.

I hope some of my readers will recognize a name or two in these six Christmas festivities. That was 109 years ago.

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Vintage letters to Santa have become a regular in my column at Christmas time. Today, nine of them from 1904 are presented without regard to spelling, punctuation and grammar; they are just as they arrived at the North Pole:

“Dear Santa Claus – Bring me an air gun an bicycle and some oranges apples candy and nuts and bring my baby brother a bugle or rattler. (Cyrus Lynn Scott, Watauga, TN).

“Dear Santa Claus – As Christmas will soon be here, we thought we would write and let you know what we want. Kathleen wants a story book, candy, nuts, oranges and some bananas. Eva Lee wants a doll, a doll bed, nuts and candy. (Kathleen and Eva Lee Campbell, Johnson City).

“Dear Santa Claus – I can hardly wait till you come. I am so glad Christmas is near I want so many things I dont know which the worst. Please bring me a doll dressed in pink and ring and lots of things and don't forget to bring my doll dressed in pink and my ring because I'll try not to loose it and be sure to bring my little sister and brother something nice for Christmas. Your little girl, (Sarah McCown, Johnson City).

“Dear Santa Claus – I am 10 years old and live at 207 Pine and Buffalo St. Please bring me a foot ball sweater a pair of leggins a pair of kid gloves a little search light a story book please bring 4 big and 4 middle and a box of little fire crackers a few roman candles and a few sky rockets that is all this time. (Lynn Mitchell, Johnson City).

“Dear Santa Claus – I am a little girl eight years old and am in the third grade. I want a few things for Christmas. Please bring me a game of old bachelor a horn a story book and a clown doll also some candy nuts and oranges just as many as you can carry. Don't forget mama and papa mama wants a pretty fur to keep her neck warm and papa wants a 2 foot boxwood brassbound rule. Bring all the little folks something. Come into the hall our room is the first on the left I will leave the door unlocked so come right in. Wishing all my little friends in Johnson City a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Your friend. (Kathleen Hodge, letter mailed to Johnson City newspaper from Leavenworth, KS).

“Dear Santa Claws – I want you to bring me a watch and a tricycle and some story books a lot of candy. (Byron Eiseman, Johnson City).

“Dear Santa Claus – I thought I would right you a letter and tell you what I want for Christmas I would like a pare of rubber shoes to wear to school and a pare of warm gloves a doll and some sweet meets I am eight years of age and go to school. Miss Painter is my teacher. I love her very much. (Lula Tonhay, Johnson City).

“My dear Santa Claus – It is so kind of you to give us a chance to write to you and I hope I will not ask too much. Please send me a great big doll in a bed a doll in a go cart and a set of dishes and please bring my brothers in Brookline, Mass., all they want. (Helen Wood, Johnson City).

“Dear Santa – I am a little boy five years old and I want you to bring me a story book and a horn and candy and anything you have. (Wan. C. Miller, Piney Flats).”

In addition to letters to Santa, the same newspaper offered 11 news items from Boone's Creek community:

“Misses Lena and Buena Hale have been visiting Miss Lee Miller on Kendrick's Creek a few days.

“Mr. D.J. Hickman, salesman for the Cox Hat Co., is at home for the holidays.

“Miss Mary Carter is on the sick list. Mr. and Mrs. Massengill of Bluff City have been visiting their daughter, Mrs. D. Hale.

“George Naff of Johnson City visits on the creek quite frequently.

There will be a Christmas tree entertainment at the Baptist Church at Flourville, Dec. 24.

Misses Lottie and Lula Hankal were in Johnson City Christmas shopping last Wednesday.

“Messrs. James Wine, Earl Garst, Paul Bowman and Misses Anna and Pearl Garst visited on Knob Creek Saturday and Sunday.

“There are few rabbits left in this neighborhood because Messrs. Culp, Hankal and Wine went hunting Saturday.

“Rev. C.D. Hylton has closed the meeting at Knob Creek. As a result of the meeting, six people joined the Boones Creek Church and eight at the Knob Creek Church.

“There will be an entertainment at Boones Creek Seminary Thursday and Friday nights. Dec. 22 and 23.”

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On Christmas day, 1951, President Truman told the nation that there had arisen a new spirit of hope in the world, that a true and lasting peace may come from the sacrifice of free men arming and fighting together. Mr. Truman's message was prepared for broadcasting from his fireside at Independence, MO., just before he pressed a telegraph key and set the nation's Christmas tree aglow with colored lights at the White House.

The president harked back to when the nation found itself fighting for survival in the most terrible of world wars. “The world is still in danger tonight,” he said, “but a great change has come about. A new spirit has been born and has grown up in the world.

“Tonight, we have a different goal and a higher hope. Despite difficulties, the free nations of the world have drawn together solidly for a great purpose, not solely to defend themselves, not merely to win a bloody war if it should come, but for the purpose of creating a real peace, a peace that shall be a positive reality and not an empty hope but a just and lasting peace.

The president spoke in moving terms of the men on the Korean battlefields that Christmas Eve and of the loneliness of those who waited for them at home.

“We miss our boys and girls who are out there,” he said. They are protecting us and all free men from aggression. They are diligently trying to prevent another world war. We honor them for the great job they are doing. We pray to the Prince of Peace for their success and safety.”

Mr. Truman said the Korea conflict is unique in history in that the free nations are proving that man is free and must remain free, that aggression must end, that nations must obey the law.

The victory we seek is that of peace; that victory is promised to us. It was promised to us long ago, in the words of the angel choir that sang over Bethlehem,  “Glory in the Highest, and on Earth, Peace, Good Will Toward Men.” 

On another note, that same year found Christmas pilgrims from 30 countries assembled in freezing cold, rallying in Bethlehem. They were there to celebrate the holiday on the spot where Christ was born.

Bone-chilling cold, which marked the Holy Land's worst Christmas, weather wise, failed to stop the annual pilgrimage.

More that 2,500 persons passed barbed wire barriers through Jerusalem, across the Mount of Olives to Bethany and then to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

There were priests in colorful robes that were assembled to honor the birth of Christ with ancient rites.

That pilgrimage, like the shepherds and the three wise men, many years prior found in Bethlehem a town of dome-roofed houses and narrow crooked streets.

The sun broke through a hazy overcast on Christmas Eve for the first time in 10 days and the women of Bethlehem devoted most of the morning to hanging out washings.

Pilgrims that year found Bethlehem's population doubled from it former figure of about 12,000. The increase was caused by an influx of Arab refugees from Israel, many whom lived in caves and rain-soaked tents on the outskirts of the town, which was situated in the Arab territory of Jordan.

Hostilities ceased between Israel and Jordan, but there was still a technical state of war. Only by special arrangement were Israeli Christian Pilgrims permitted to make the traditional journey to Bethlehem.

Friends shouted a Christmas greeting across the barbed wire barriers, waiting impatiently to be cleared by the blue-clad Israeli police and the Khadi-clad soldiers of Jordan's Arab Legion.

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