In the earliest years of the Southeast Missourian, one of the mainstays of the Christmas holiday season was the publication of youngsters' letters to Santa Claus.
For some reason, I took note of the letters from 1915 as I was working on Out of the Past columns. What struck me most about them was that almost all asked for the same three things: Candy, nuts and fruit. What in this modern world we pick up without thinking at our local supermarket, children a century ago considered treats to be imported from the North Pole by the Jolly Old Elf himself.
Another thing that I found interesting was the generosity of the children. A large part of them ask for gifts for themselves, but then enumerated their siblings, mothers and fathers, so that Santa wouldn't forget them either.
I'm told by friends with young children that Santa Claus has gone high-tech, receiving lists of Christmas wishes from youngsters via telephone and the internet. But sometimes it's nice to go back and read letters from long ago. So I've selected a few missives that were printed in the pages of The Daily Republican in 1915, leaving their creative punctuation and spelling as originally published. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Dear Santa: I am a small boy of four years of age, and therefore you know I am one of your favorite friends. I have been a real good boy, and now perhaps you would very likely want to know what I want for Christmas. Now Dear Santa please bring me a claw hammer, boxes of nails, steeples, wheelbarrow, rubber ball, also an Ford automobile like Ed Rudert's, with 400 seats so when I go auto riding I can take my little friends with me. Santa, I also want a Xmas tree with beautiful lights. Would like very much if you would bring me all kinds of candies and nuts. Santa Claus, I hope I am not asking to much of you. I will be waiting for you patiently Xmas Eve. I am your little friend, Clyde Hannebrink. (Several boys listed claw hammers and wheelbarrows in their Santa letters. - Sharon)
Dear Santa: I am a little girl 6 years old. I go to Lorimier school. I like my teacher and I am in the first grade. I go to Baptist Sunday school. I will tell you what I want for Xmas, a set of furniture and dishes for my doll and little kitchen cabinet, Christmas tree, candy, nuts and fruit. I will not ask for so much for I want all little chiuldren to have something. Bring mama, papa, sisters and brothers something and be sure and take my two little nephews at Fornfelt something. Their names are Arthur and Amwel Stroup. From Hazel Mansfield, 401 Spanish.
Dear Santa Clause: As this is my first time of writing a letter to you and also hope you will be proud of receiving a letter from me. I am 7 years of age and go to the Lutheran school, taught by Rev. Lohmann. Santa, I want you to bring me a first reader, claw hammer, auto with four lights, sled and skates. Do not forget to bring me candy, nuts and oranges. I also have a baby sister of only 6 months old. She would like to have a little rubber doll. This being all for this year. Hope you will come early Christmas Eve. I am your little friend, Lawrence Hanebrink.
Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl 2 1/2 years old. I am very cute. I have hair six inches long when it is braided up. My mama and papa think I am the cutest baby in the world. Now I have been a good girl and Mamma says that I do everything she wants me to. I want a doll and go-cart, a coffee mill, a little red chair and a nice little story book. My name is Marjorie Doretta Koeppel. My address is 223 S. Sprigg St. (I'm thinking Marjorie Doretta may have had some help composing this letter. - Sharon)
Dear Santa Claus: My name is Walter Goehring. I want more things Xmas from Santa than last year. I want a little wagon like my papa's got and I want a rain coat and some candy and fruit. I am 7 years old. I am going to school. Bring all my things to 39 N. Pacific St.
Dear Peltznickler: Viola Goehring is my name and you know me yet from last year. Bring me a fur and muff and doll, iron and ironing board and don't forget my oranges and candy don't forget my moma and my little baby sister. (Pelznickel was a German Christmas character who, according to some websites, was a replacement for St. Nicholas. - Sharon)
Dear Santa Claus: I am writing you this letter to let you know what I want for Christmas. I want a suit of clothes, pair shoes, rain coat, track on the track, auto and candy, nuts and fruit. And please do not forget the boys and girsl in Germany. Yours in love, August Lewis, 318 S. Lorimier St.
Dear Santa Claus: I have not been sick. I have been pretty good this year. I have went to school all this year. I have went to Sunday School to. For Christmas I want a ball and sled, some candy, nuts and some oranges. Guess that is all I want this year. Your friend, Joe Hall, 840 S. Ellis St.
Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl 8 years old. I have a little sister 6 years old. We go to the training school. I will tell you what we want for Christmas. Please Santa bring us a set of dishes and each of us a big doll and a ring and a story book and some nuts, fruits and candy. Our papa is dead and please Santa do not forget our dear mother and Uncle David. From your little friends, Mary and Susie Burch, Mississippi Street.
Dear Santa Claus: I am in the third grade. I am 9 years old. This is what I want for Xmas. A football, a little cash register, pocket knife, six books, a ball, train, paints, games, nuts, candies and fruit. Oh, yes I forgot something. Please bring me a collar and a sack of candy for my dog Collie. He likes candy very much. Don't forget to bring my teacher something nice, Miss Ranney. Your little friend, Rudolph Bahn.
Dear Santa: I am a little boy 5 years old. I do not go to school yet. I will tell you what I want for Christmas. I want a flute, a pair of gloves and some kind of game and do not forget the poor children. From your friend, Vernon Dudley, 311 Mill St.
Dear Santa: I want a yard of blue hair ribbon and a little red chair and a little teddy bear and a big kewpie. I am ate years old. I want a box of sationery. Your little friend, Beatrix Chapman, North Henderson Avenue.
Dear Santa: I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know what I want for Christmas. I am a little girl 11 years old. I go to the Jefferson School. I am in the 5B grade. My teacher's name is Miss Beckman. I like her fine. I hope to be promoted after Christmas. My (mother's) name is Effie Rayburn. My papa's name is George Rayburn. My name is Cecil Rayburn. Santa, now I will tell you want I want for Christmas. I do not want much this year, Santa. I nearly forgot to tell you where I live if you are out near our home on 1112 Bloomfield St please stop in and leave me a doll and candy, nuts and fruits. I will close, so by by, as ever your little friend Cecil Rayburn.
Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl 5 years old and am trying to be real good, for I would like a nice Christmas. Please bring me a little kimona and house slippers, a doll bed, a go-cart for my doll, set of dishes, table and chairs, a Christmas tree for brother and nuts, candy and fruit and please dress my dolly and curl her hair. I'll lay her out on the porch so you can find her. If you can't bring all this please do dress my dolly anyway. Don't forget mother, daddy, grandma and grandpa. Your little friend, Clodene Cowan, 115 S. Sprigg St.
Dear Old Santa Claus: I just came here from Tucson, Arizona. I am 7 years old and am a good boy. Sometimes I help my mama clean up the house. I want to tell you what I want. I want a steam engine. It runs all the way round the block and an automobile. Then bring me a soldier suit and a play gun. I just want a pay gun because I don't want to shoot anybody. I want fruit and apples and oranges and some nuts. You don't need to bring me much candy, becuase my mama has that at the store. If you have more wagons than you know what to do with, bring me one, so I can take Katherine riding in it. Don't forget to bring my sister something because she is a good girl. Bring Grandma McClatchey something, because she stays home with me at nights. You can bring me anything else you want to and I will be glad to get it, but I will close so you won't get tired reading my letter. With lots of love and kisses I am your little boy, Jolly Scotti. P.S. Sometimes I am sassy, but I don't mean to be. J.
The Daily Republican, Dec. 23, 1920.