Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
Residents of Millinocket celebrated Christmas in the 1920’s in a variety of ways. Whether at home, at school, church, at an organization, theater, or other, there were numerous events and activities going on. Some preferred the quiet celebration at home while others were out and about participating in group celebrations.
One newspaper states: Christmas Day passed quietly with beautiful weather and pleasant home dinners and reunions. In the afternoon and evening large numbers attended the pictures in both theaters, the Opera House being so crowded to see Jackie Coogan that it was difficult to find a seat. The morning Christmas mass at St. Martin’s was filled with inspiring music. At the Baptist Church the Christmas play was largely attended and there were trees and gifts at the Sunday School.
Also, in the 1920’s, “It is becoming difficult in our busy little community for churches, schools, orders and clubs to stage entertainments, plays, concerts, etc. without conflicting dates.” Already scheduled were a play, Aunt Jerusha’s Quilting Party at the Baptist Church; a play, The Hottentot by the K of C; the annual Papermakers Ball; three evenings of plays by the May Edwards Stock Company; Bimbs, a musical comedy directed by Vinal Crommett for the benefit of baseball interests; the annual Chapman concert (Philharmonic Club); and the school’s Junior Exhibition. These were all planned for mid-December through early January. The article says, “All these, in addition to the regular club meetings, lodges, whist parties, dances, Christmas tree and the various appointments of the churches which should rank first, make us some busy little town for the next few weeks.”
Other items that made the news in the 1920’s included: Congo Church sale to benefit bell fund; young people and elders making wreathes at the Baptist Church; a
sale at Friendly Hall with chance to buy wonderful Christmas gifts plus no need to go home for supper as the ladies are serving many good things from beans to oysters.
Schools held events: “Do not forget the Junior Exhibition in the rush of Christmas. Admission only 35 cents, not 50 cents as ticket accidently states.” Aroostook Avenue School (grades 1-4, 450 total pupils) “sang and spoke with sincerity and enthusiasm with Russell Tapley in the role of a small, fat, dignified Santa Claus. “The grades filing in to do their parts would do credit to Company I with their remarkable marching.”
And among many other mentions, “This year for the first time, the Post Office windows will be closed on Christmas Day in common with all offices in the United States.”
In the 1950’s, the Katahdin region was ready for Christmas with decorated storefronts, the bandstand and Santa hut in the park. The recreation department was led by Wally Delahanty. Santa arrived by plane and rode downtown in a “real sleigh” with the Stearns band leading the way. Santa’s “office” was set up in the parking lot across from the Millinocket Trust where he was visited by young and old. Candy was distributed to the children. One article says 8500 pieces of candy were given out.
A highlight of the festivities was the presence of Rudolph and two reindeer (actually Maine deer) housed at Santa’s Zoo. Other animals were also present.