The Herald Democrat
50 years ago
Santa Claus Is Still King
December 20, 1971
The Chamber of Commerce, with the assistance of local business men, provided the annual Christmas treat for the children of Leadville.
Lloyd Greve provided at cost and absorbed some of the expenses as his share a children’s movie, “Run Wild, Run Free.”
Those are statistics of little interest to the small fry.
They sat through the movie, but when Santa Claus appeared on the scene ten minutes before the movie ended on Saturday morning, all interest was lost in seeing how the little boy fared in the final reels of the film about him and his pets.
Santa Claus was in the lobby, and the kids wanted to see him and talk to him.
The real Santa Clauses — the Chamber of Commerce representatives handling the goodies — Ralph Garrett, Tony Hren, Leonard Oberndorfer, Walt Klein — were just in the way as far as these young believers were concerned.
However, the adults were not hurt by the lack of attention. They were pleased to see so many “believers” still around in this enlightened age.
Approximately 400 youngsters came out to see Santa Claus. The weather man cooperated by providing a nice sunny and warm day.
This particular Santa Claus began training for his role several years ago and knows how to cope with the questions which youngsters can hurl unexpectedly. During the summer Santa has been a villain, but he changes his tactics during the season when it’s proper to be jolly.
This function of the Chamber of Commerce meets with the approval of all the business men and is a budgeted item. The business leaders delight in pleasing the young folks.
The movie is today’s manner of observing the Christmas tree give-away of years ago, when a large Christmas tree was the center of holiday decorations; being planted in the middle of Harrison Ave. at the corner of Eighth, the custom would be for Santa to arrive in a sleigh with his bag of goodies.
The line of children would extend for a couple of blocks — and sometimes it appeared never-ending, for it represented a good opportunity for the more daring to get in line more than once.
In recent years the outdoor community Christmas tree was exchanged for the more comfortable way of providing a movie for the gathering of the children.
The romanticism of Santa arriving in a horse-drawn sleigh has been lost to modernism. Adults can take comfort in remembering the days when Santa came sleighing down Capitol Hill to provide the proper North Pole atmosphere on which they had cut their baby teeth.
Food for thought:
The phonograph was about the first musical invention for the home, and by the turn of the century no home was complete without a small case with a big horn which played cylindrical records. Now these are collector’s items while the stereo record continue to be the most popular on the musical market of all music lines.
After the phonograph became widely known, the populace wondered how they were ever able to live without this mechanical instrument.
Then came radio, and everybody sat nightly in front of one to listen to Fred Allen, Major Bower Amateur Hour, the soap operas, the national barn dance.
Then in the 1940s came television, and no home has been the same since. In fact, you are not average if you have only one TV set in your home, and a black and white one at that. Nobody can get along without television now.
There is one other thing people thought they couldn’t get along without for a long time, and that was the movies.
In looking back over the “musts,” the phonograph has had the best survival rate. Makes you wonder what the space age will produce that most of us won’t be able to get along without.
The Tree After Christmas
What happens to the Christmas tree after December 25 in Leadville tells the tale of whether it graced the home of an old-time Leadvillite or a family which can be placed in the newcomer category.
Old-time Leadvillites have traditions and superstitions with Christmas trees.
Old-timers put up the tree a few days before Christmas and allow it to remain up until the “Feast of the Three Kings” of Epiphany, which is January 6. For some Stringtown families, January 6 is known as “Little Christmas.”
Those who do not particularly celebrate January 6 do leave the tree up until after January 1 due to a superstition which says a tree should not be removed from the house until after the old year ends. To do otherwise invites ill luck.
Recent settlers of the town put up the tree early in December and toss it out the back door shortly after Christmas ends.
Nothing looks as forlorn as an undecorated fir or pine that had for a few weeks been the focal point of the holiday season. A few pieces of tinsel sway in the breeze, saying softly, “Nobody loves me anymore.”
Now with the anti-burning edict, what happens to the useless Christmas tree? It used to be fun to make a bonfire in the backyard with it.
Trees can be hauled individually to the dumping ground, or they can be arrayed with the regular trash for pickup.
Homeowners with a fireplace will have no problem with tree disposal. It is now that the old wood-coal burning kitchen stove would be handy, too.
Now would be the time to look around to see if after-holiday sales include artificial trees. This will eliminate the toss-out problem for 1972.
People are doing their Christmas shopping so early these days that the next thing we know Santa will be tossing out the first ball to open the baseball season.