I was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada where my father worked at the Eatons department store. A very big deal at that time. He sold heavy appliances, pianos and home organs. He could bring a tear to the unsophisticated ear of the locals playing Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring on a home organ. We had one in the living room.
My mother was a church organist and choir leader, although she was an agnostic. I don't know what my dad was, but he could repair organs. One time he was in a local Anglican church late at night repairing an organ and to test it he started a rousing version of Roll Out the Barrel, We'll Have a Barrel of Fun. A local parishioner with keen ears heard it and reported him to the Minister.
One winter we went up on the snow-covered roof of the Eatons Department Store. It was a 3 story building. Due to his pull at the store or a slight bribe, my dad was able to convince the store Santa Claus to sit up there on a chair. We children came up in our snowsuits to have a personal interview with Santa Claus in the snow on the roof of the Eatons department store. Home movies of the event were taken to be viewed in successive years around Christmas time.
Christmas memory is of the kind of toys we would get as children. Children's
toys back in those days, in the later 40s and the 50s, were different
than what we see today. I remember one item that was big on the list was
Lincoln Logs. The came in sets and you could build log cabins and other
frontier constructions. They came with pictures of things you could build,
whole forts, if you had the expanded kit. We never got the expanded kit
but there were lots of logs anyways. Of course there was Lego and something
called 'Pick Up Sticks' which you don't see much of nowadays in brightly
coloured plastic. They came in a roundish tin and you had to pick them
up in a certain order and avoid disturbing other elements in the pile
and so forth. They were challenging for a while.
dolls. I still have an Eaton Beauty Doll from that era. These were larger
fashion dolls pre Barbie. Closer in size to the American Girl doll
but more fashionable. There were baby dolls,also, with curly hair and
some of them would wet themselves, which was a thrill.
I remember one Christmas when my father included, amongst the gifts he gave my mother, 3 bars of fancily packaged, scented soaps probably of European origin. My mother, who was of an emotional nature, opened the present, saw the soaps and burst into tears. Moaning through her tears, You think I smell!! My father could never quite get it right with gifts for my mother, although his intentions were of the best.
I had an
old aunt in another town who faithfully, every Christmas, would send my
sister and I gifts of brown cotton lisle stockings, full length, very
practical and exceedingly ugly. They were meant to be held up with a garter
belt, sort of like ugly cotton nylons. Although we always wrote dutiful
'thank you' notes, we never wore these items and, somehow, they just disappeared
shortly after Christmas.