Fremont County, Iowa

Santa Came Knocking
by Sherry Perkins

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
December 15, 2014

Note: My Grandma, Ethel (Wright) Grindle (1901-1988) left many notes and letters for her grandchildren to enjoy. Years later, her words are precious to us. She always kept the little ones quiet and entertained with her stories on Christmas Eve while they waited for Santa’s arrival. The following, in her words, describes her memories of Christmas.

Christmas of 1906;

“The first that I remember about my life was when I was five years old. My oldest brother, Walter was 6 1/2 years. Paul was 4 1/2 years, and Clark 3 years old. We lived on a small farm, east of Bartlett, Iowa, called the ‘King Place’ where Dad farmed for several years. At that time we didn’t jump into the car and go to Omaha to shop. There were no cars, telephones, electricity or even flashlights. Our lights were kerosene lamps and lanterns.

“When it came Christmas time, Mom and Dad would decide to go to Omaha to shop. They would get Grandma Davis to come and stay with us kids. They then drove the team and carriage to Bartlett, put the team in the livery stable where the horses would be cared for, and take the 5 a.m. passenger train to Omaha. There they would shop all day and catch the 6 p.m. train back to Bartlett. The livery man would have the team ready for them to head home. There was a charge for taking care of the team. It was 3 miles home in the dark.

“I don’t know what they did with the presents to hide them as we lived in a three-room house with no closets. We kids didn’t suspect a thing so didn’t snoop. When Christmas came, we would hang our stocking on a nail or a door knob, and after dark, Santa would knock on our door. We hadn’t missed Dad but he had a big fur coat on and made a good Santa. Walter and I were the brave ones to go to the door. Santa would give us a picture book and an orange and apple. Then after we were in bed, the stockings were filled. I remember I always got a doll--that was something! The boys got dominoes, warm mittens, caps and sleds.”

She also told us about going to school in the winter;

“We had to walk a mile to school. When there was snow on the ground, and usually we had snow most of the winter, we took the sled. I would ride and hold the lunch pails and Walter would pull the sled. We wore legging over our stocking to protect our legs. Mine were black and buttoned up to my knees. Walter’s were khaki colored with buckles on them.

“Sometimes a neighbor, Charlie Rickabaugh, would come by riding his old horse named Curly and we would pile on that faithful horse and ride to school. his two girls, himself, Walter and me.

“After Paul and Clark started school if the weather was too bad, Dad would sometimes take us in the carriage or bobsled if there was snow.”

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