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The Way It Was . . . at Christmastime

Mon, 11/20/2023 - 13:04
In the early and mid-20th century, they called it the “Christmas Number” — the special section that appeared each December with a festive, colored cover.
East Hampton Star Archive

December 26, 1885

A very good Christmas or New Year’s present to your friends abroad, and one which would no doubt be thoroughly appreciated, especially if they are natives or former residents of the Hamptons, would be a year’s subscription to the Easthampton Star. It will contain all the local news and gossip which will prove of interest to them and answer the purpose of a weekly letter to them.

January 9, 1886

AMAGANSETT: A large whale was seen near the shore and the signal was set flying. In a few moments the crews were off and the whale secured. . . . The rendering of oil was completed this week and about 80 barrels were made, or about 15 more than expected. . . . The whalers cooled down their works on Thursday of last week to participate in Christmas festivities, and started up again Monday morning.

The mistletoe bough is the most expensive of all decorations. A single branch costs sometimes as high as $5. Most of the mistletoe is found in North Carolina, but every year a quantity is imported from England just before the holidays and finds a ready sale. The English is the best and brings the highest price. A parlor decoration is not complete without the branch of mistletoe hanging from the chandelier, acting as an excuse for friendly and loving kisses for the maiden who ventures unsuspectingly beneath it. 

January 28, 1888

The toy makers brought out a lot of bobsleds for the boys this Christmas, but no true bobber would dare to risk his life on one of those slender little things on a steep hill. To go fast and be safe at the same time, the bobs of today in such places as Albany, Burlington, and the Massachusetts towns are often built to weigh almost a ton, and then that weight is doubled with a ballast of iron. These sleds are so strong that it is calculated that if one of them ran into an ordinary brick house squarely at full speed it would go through at least the first wall.

December 23, 1892

WORTH CONSIDERING. Once there was merrymaking at home, trimming of the church with the evergreens, listening for the bells of Christmas Eve peeling through the frosty air, interchange of gifts whose value was chiefly in their handiwork. Now we are in danger of allowing curiosity and acquisitiveness to drown out all the simple and sacred feelings belonging to the day. For gradually the increase of wealth has brought about an unwise increase in the cost of gifts for special and recurring occasions; and the store-keepers, quick to take a hint, set the world aflame with their advertisements.

December 20, 1895

One of our subscribers at Westhampton Beach writes: “The sport of the day at this place is the skating sail. The boys of East Hampton little know what sport is to be had on the ice. If they could once see how these sails are used they would be filled with surprise. Ice boating is nothing compared to sail skating. When there is a good wind and good skating the skaters are carried along at the rate of a mile a minute. The sails are usually about four by 10 yards in size. The bay is frozen over for a distance of two miles and so smooth not a spot can be seen, except now and then a fisherman setting his net for perch.”

SPRINGS: Christmas exercises were held in our chapel Saturday evening. . . . Father Time appeared dressed in white and carrying his sickle, and made an appropriate impression. Santa Claus came next and greeted Father Time, then addressed his children in a pleasing tone. Then came Uncle Sam in his usual dress, followed by four boys carrying the American flag. He addresses the school reminding the children of the privileges which they enjoy in our enlightened land.

Loaded shells. Do you want a GUN? Can supply you at the very lowest prices. E.B. Muchmore, East Hampton Christmas Day, 1904

Yes, snowed under! That’s what we are. Wood piles covered up, coal buried. Pine, which is so much desired at Christmas time, too much covered up; holly surrounded so it is impossible to get at. This is a new experience for Long Island. It is one of the winters we read about. Oceans of snow all around us. But there is a beauty in the snow which somewhat compensates for the inconveniences. Its grandeur and majesty is strikingly set before us and it brings to mind the passage in Job 38:22: “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow.”

December 6, 1907

In spite of the snow and cold winds the rehearsals for the musical comedy are progressing rapidly. The Choral Society is putting forth every effort to make this presentation its best work. The two acts team with bright music and pretty dances. Owing to ill health Mrs. Fred Dayton was forced to resign her part as Koko San, the principal geisha.

A Christmas dance will be given in Clinton Hall, Friday evening, December 27, by the Alpha Club. The Corie Vaudeville gave a pretty good show in Clinton Hall on Saturday to a medium sized audience.

About 75 persons gathered in St Luke’s Parish Hall last evening to listen to the address by Dr. E. Porter Felt, State Entomologist. The lecturer dwelt especially upon the insect destroyers of shade trees, and described very minutely the gypsy moth. 

December 11, 1908

Amagansett got a whale in its stocking for Christmas. The people of the village were delighted with this, the first catch of the season, and many predict that more will be caught before the boarders come again.

Conklin Company, Main Street, Amagansett, headquarters for the Best the Market Affords in Dry Goods, Groceries, Footwear. We have a Dandy Display of Christmas Goods at Most Reasonable Prices, is what they all say. 300 Novelties at 10 cents each. THE WHALE IS CAUGHT and we have Mittens, Leather Coats, etc. etc.

December 7, 1909

Large quantities of holly are being gathered in the woods back of Amagansett. People come from all over town to this holly section and carry off loads of it. Some are not content with breaking off small branches, but cut down whole trees and thus reduce the supply of the future.

Santa Claus makes us agents and has placed on show in our store a great collection of Holiday Goods. Sweets, toys, candy, games, grapes, nuts, oranges, dates, figs. No lemons handed out here. Conklin Company. Telephone 6-F-2. Amagansett.

January 3, 1914

Amagansett: There are four empty houses on the hill this winter. • One of our young schoolteachers is wearing a large diamond solitaire. • Good skating last week and the crowds were out at night at what the boys call Mosquito Hole. • What Amagansett needs in winter is a convenient and comfortable place for a stranger to get a good square meal. Probably the time is not far distant when someone will awake to this need, instead of having people roam the streets eating crackers and cheese from the stores or going hungry. • The ice harvest from Cranberry Hole was of poor quality and the ice from Fresh Pond, Amagansett’s natural ice supply, was not harvested at all, on account of its being salted by the high tides. • The ice houses at Montauk have been filled with good ice from seven to eight inches in thickness. The ice is not as clear as it has been sometimes, but the fishermen did not want to take any chances of losing the ice crop which is more important to fishermen than the average man realizes. • The boys club is very fortunate to have secured the cooperation of the great inventor, Thomas A. Edison, who has promised to give a concert in the new church, Monday February 23, using his new Diamond Disk phonograph with all the finest new records.

December 20, 1918

The women of the East Hampton Branch of the Southampton Chapter American Red Cross are deserving of a lot of credit for the immense amount of work accomplished during the past year. The articles made were 54,984 surgical dressings and bandages, 85 hospital shirts, 161 pairs pajamas, 101 pneumonia jackets, 2,590 absorbent pads, 50 convalescent robes, 40 suits boys’ underwear, 25 serge dresses, 50 convalescent suits, 121 hot water bag covers, 112 washcloths, 148 sweaters, 220 pairs of socks, 29 helmets, 46 comfort kits, and two hospital cots fully equipped. Now the drive for the Red Cross Roll Call is on. One week is a very short time for every man, woman, and child in East Hampton to sign up but it is possible if we all have the proper Christmas spirit. Every person with a heart and one dollar will be a member.

SAFETY FIRST. Don’t allow children to touch the lighted tree. Don’t remove presents from the tree when it is lighted. Don’t leave anything highly inflammable near the tree. Don’t set the tree up haphazardly. Be sure it is securely fastened so it will not tip over easily. Don’t blow a candle out. The flame might be carried to a dry branch and set fire to the whole tree. Don’t fasten any tinsel ornament near any lights on the tree. If one should alight the blaze would spread all over the tree.

Personal touches, such as original sketches on the gift card or a spray of foliage from the region of the giver’s home convey a deep sentiment and thoughtfulness on the part of the giver, according to Miss Hollman. While holly and mistletoe are the emblematic Christmas foliage, a spray of hemlock, bittersweet, pepper bough, or any pretty native foliate may be used.

VICTORY CHRISTMAS. Our boys are coming home, Money is plentiful, Our Country is prosperous, which is all the more reason why you should give reliable and lasting gifts from Fritts the Jeweler. Diamonds. Diamond Jewelry. Watches. Bracelet Watches. Fountain Pens. Safety Razors. Sterling Silver Toilet Ware. Cut Glass. Nickel Ware. Clocks. Stationary. Cutlery. Eastman Kodaks and Supplies. We engrave and deliver all articles free. C.E. Fritts, Sag Harbor, L.I.

January 3, 1919

AMAGANSETT: The decorations, consisting of Christmas trees, pine, stars and bells, mingled with the flags of the Allies, were very tastefully arranged by Mrs. J.D. Edwards and the ladies of the Home Department. Last of all, via aeroplane, came Santa Claus, and he too made a big hit, although somewhat dismantled and fatigued, having encountered a storm near Montauk Point. He pleased the children, complimented the ladies, and asked the congregation to rise and sing “America” in honor of our boys and girls, seventeen in number, who are in the service of the country.

“Cut-a-Cord” Clubs Give Winter Days Zest, Make Evenings Happy: Who would not rather spend an evening before a snapping wood fire in an open grate or fireplace, rather than before a drowsy coal fire? And who could ask a better excuse for a winter holiday than to go into the woods and set the echoes ringing and the chips flying by felling trees for such firewood? These are the two chief appeals in the campaign now being launched by the United States Fuel administration to bring about a considerable use of wood to replace coal in states where domestic fuel is scarce.

December 1, 1922

People who do not chloroform their sense of fun before starting to read history have had many a chuckle over the Pilgrim and Puritan festival of Thanksgiving. These early settlers of New England were so militantly Christian that they could not bear any suggestion of an earlier creed. They objected to Christmas as “heathenish,” because it contained — as it still contains — so many relics of pre-Christian days. Having done this, they turned round, seized on the most thoroughly pagan of all the celebrations, that of the gathered harvest, and made it into an institution that has grown and spread for three centuries

January 6, 1928

One of the largest New Year’s parties reported was that of Mr. and Mrs. Lion Gardiner at the Montauk Manor, Saturday evening, when they entertained about 40 of their friends at a dinner dance. A seven-course dinner was served at about 8 o’clock. The Imperial Orchestra of Southampton furnished delightful music during dinner, which was served in the large dining room, and later in the ballroom. A dancing contest was held about 11 o’clock, Mrs. Gardiner awarding prizes.

IF EVERYONE BOUGHT HERE: What would be the dividends payable to East Hampton if every citizen on December 31, 1928, could truthfully say he or she had not violated a community resolution for 1928 to “Buy at Home”? With the number of mail order catalogs pouring into the town, the loss to the town is staggering.

January 16, 1929

Where have all the good red blooded sportsmen of East Hampton gone? A few years ago with a coating of ice on the ponds ten or twelve inches in thickness, horse racing, skate-sailing, ice-boating and other winter sports would be in full swing. Hook Pond offers an excellent place for any of the above mentioned sports. We can recall one winter not many years ago, when a regular ice carnival was held on this pond. The late Wm. O. Rackett with his pacer and the others with their trotters were on the pond trying to break records. Three of four ice boats were giving free rides, skaters numbering nearly one hundred dotted the pond and skaters with large skate sails were scooting back and forth. It has been excellent skating on Hook Pond for several days but there has seldom been more than a dozen who would brave the weather for this good ice.

December 26, 1931

Hail the New Year! Nineteen thirty-one — answer its challenge. It can be a happy and successful year for you, or a drab and discouraging one . . . whichever you make it. There are new edifices to build, new discoveries to make, new inventions to formulate. Whatever your talents are, resolve to make the most of them. Set a goal and stick to it and 1931 will reward you accordingly. — The East Hampton Star

New Year’s Celebration 1930-31 at Canoe Place Inn  Ballroom • Eddie Davis Orchestra • Dinner inclusive couvert charge $10 per person • Attractive souvenirs • May we suggest that you make your reservations early.

East Hampton’s third annual Christmas Gift Ticket Campaign will come to a close this evening with the drawing of the gifts which will be drawn at Edwards Theatre. There has been unusual interest in this year’s campaign, for in addition to the ten grand prizes, there have been many more prizes donated by the 65 merchants who are participating this year. The ten prizes will be: 1. Chevrolet 1931 Sport Roadster. 2. Your choice of seven-piece walnut bedroom suite or dining room suite of equal value. 3. General Electric refrigerator. 4. Ladies Bulova wrist watch. 5. Man’s Hamilton 17-jewel watch. 6. McDoogall Kitchen Cabinet. 7. Crosley “Buddy” radio. 8. Grandfather hall clock. 9. Hamilton Beach vacuum cleaner. 10. Three tons of coal.

December 30, 1932

Oysters are not ordinarily associated with Christmas shopping, but S. C. Grimshaw & Sons at Promised Land report that they had an excellent Christmas business in oysters, shipping 65 barrels a day to New York and Philadelphia.

Last Saturday, December 34, the Edwards Theatre, in co-operation with the East Hampton Business Men’s Club, gave a Christmas party to all the kiddies in the community. Every child attending the theater received a toy donated by the theater and a bag of candy donated by the business men. Over 200 children attended and were greeted by Santa Claus in the foyer, where the gifts were given out. There were a huge variety of toys, consisting of dolls, harmonicas, boats, whistles, games, and many others too numerous to mention. The candy consisted of a Christmas stocking filled with delicious caramels, and the kiddies had a great time watching the first episode of the thrilling new serial, “The Devil’s Horse,” with Harry Carey and Frankie Darre and the horse that is almost human, Apache, plus Ken Maynard in “Come On, Tarzan” and Nancy Carroll in “Hot Saturday.”

December 20, 1934

The third season of the Basketball League was one filled with thrills and spills, with all teams showing plenty of zip. The final game of the evening was between the Bone Crushers and the Sons of Allah. This is where old man upset stepped into the picture. He tore onto the court and snatched the undefeated banner right out of the Bone Crushers’ hands. The Bone Crushers fought gamely but due to the wrath of Allah they came out on the short end of a 17-25 score.

The strings of red and green electric lights over the business section, put up by the East Hampton business men, have attracted much favorable comment during the past week; they give a festive appearance to Main Street, and are particularly welcome in this year when fewer private homes than usual are adorned by lighted outdoor Christmas trees. Many of the shop windows in the village are adorned by Christmas posters done by pupils in the East Hampton High School under the direction of Miss Velma Mouth, art supervisor in the school. The Christmas tree in Hook Green, lighted in many years past by the Ladies Village Improvement Society, will present its usual attractive appearance on Monday evening, Christmas Eve, and for one week after that.

It’s not surprising how few young men nowadays go fishing; hard, cold, dangerous work it is and the returns are small. But it’s no harder work now than it was years ago, when . . . the fathers of a good many Star readers went off the ocean beach here in snow and storm, to piece out the profits of a summer-resort business that wouldn’t stretch out over the entire year. It was healthy work, for mind and body; they didn’t have time for the dangerous talk that occupies so much time during the idle winter months of the 1930s.

Vandals have stolen Mozart’s famous flute. Now if they would only steal a few high-pitched saxophones and xylophones the world can get somewhere.

Montana reports the hatching of a turkey with two necks. One with four legs would be far more appreciated at this season of the year.

The Montauk Escallop Committee will purchase 500 bushels of starfish taken from Three Mile Harbor by the residents of the Town of East Hampton. Fifty cents will be paid for each bushel of starfish delivered at a designated point on the shore at 3 p.m. each day except Sunday.

December 15, 1949

Gay Gift! By Prince Matchabelli. Cologne Carols: New as the day, and just as fresh! Two crown-emblazoned flasks of cologne! Spicy Potpourri and crisp Holly Berry in festive Christmas box sparkling with frosty-white glittering “snow.” Only $1. White’s Pharmacy.

Trucks are bringing in loads of evergreen trees from northern woods for sale here; and East Hampton people who own woodland or have friends who own it are coming back from the woods with white-pine trees slung along the running-boards of their cars, or hanging out of the baggage compartment.

The Ramblers had as their guest speaker for their Christmas meeting on the “Near East,” at the Session House on Tuesday evening, Mrs. Walter Hackett, who was in the Near East in 1945. On her way back home to Walla Walla, Wash., after spending a year with the Red Cross in India during the War, Mrs. Hackett, whose parents had originally come from Lebanon, was permitted a stopover there to visit relatives. Her uncle, a writer and lecturer on religious philosophy in the Middle East, arranged for her to accompany him on a lecture trip and on Tuesday evening Mrs. Hackett took the Ramblers over the territory they covered, including her impressions of Damascus, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Beyrouth, and Alep. She also showed several things she had brought back with her, including raw silk, a small rug woven with designs similar to those used by the Indians of our Southwest, an inlaid box, and pictures taken in the Holy Land.


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