Cornville, Arizona Christmas of 1913

18 Dec

Elsie wrote often to her family. Though she was 25 this was her first Christmas away from home. Here are some excerpts taken from her letter describing that Christmas 98 years ago. Keep in mind that rules for teacher said they were not to keep company with men in ice-cream parlors – nothing was said about 40 miles alone in a buggy with a man!  


Dec 26th 1913

My Very Dear Family,

What a splendid Christmas you sent me!  I don’t know how to thank you for all the lovely things, which certainly are just what I wanted!  They all came, 3 boxes, with a delightful lot of other things for me, on Christmas Eve.  They were in very good condition.  The things to eat you made yourself are too good for words, Mama, and it is lovely to have them from home. The fruitcake I’ll keep awhile. The cookies are a joy, and the candies all delicious.  And that fat home?like stocking, Aunt Mamie!  I let out such a shriek when that came to view. Before I went to bed I put on my table the lovely wee evergreen K. got for me when we went for the big trees, and piled my packages all around it high, and tied my unlooked at stocking to my little bedpost!  It was fearfully late then and I didn’t get up until ten on Christmas. I made my fire, and then went back to bed to look at my stocking, just as I would have seen it first at home.  I did think a great deal of everyone of you, with very special love.

The candied cherries and the ginger I particularly appreciated in the stocking Aunt Mamie.  I’d been wishing for raisins and dates, too, Mama.   I’m having a feast of candy, and it’s delightful to have so much that I can give it out freely to some of these people who don’t know so much about candy!  Someone else here, I think it must have been Mrs. Hurst, gave me a box of delicious homemade candy.  There was a dainty cup and saucer from “the children.”  M. and I got a fussy card of greeting from Mr. Barron, the Red Rock school teacher.  Glen Girdner gave me an ancient Indian war?club head of stone that he said I could give the Pomona museum.  I’m charmed with that.  Mrs. G. made a pretty towel rack for M. and me.  I know I’ll have at least cards from several more of my friends.  It’s almost worthwhile being “away” to be so beautifully remembered.

 Mrs. G. told me she had written you a Christmas letter, Mama. From the way she spoke, I wondered if possibly she wrote partly to speak of K.   She likes him ever so much, and praise from her seems to be mighty hard to win.  Do please tell me if she says anything about him!  Possibly she thinks he stays too late when he calls, or that we should oftener have a chaperon!  But she’s never intimated that.  It would be hard to arrange anything conventionally in Arizona.    

The entertainment went off beautifully, and I did enjoy it all, work and all.  Mrs. G. worked like a Trojan.

 Monday K. and I drove some 20 miles there and back (was that shocking?) and got beautiful trees.  The place was beautiful.  One tree was on each side of the front space used as a platform.   We decorated with garlands and wreaths and had large candles in the windows, and little ones on the tree.  M. and I got tree ornaments, tinsel, etc. for our share to help the Sunday School, and the children in my room made lots of things? gifts and decorations.  It looked beautiful.  We had gifts (M. and I) for the children, and the community gave money for a treat of nuts, candy, and oranges.

            I wore my pink and black and white dainty dress tho I was behind one of the trees to prompt most of the time. 

            Mrs. G. was costumer, and did it beautifully, while I helped a bit with that and acted as manager.  The children were adorable!  They looked so dear in their “best clothes “I wanted to hug them all to death. They did beautifully. I wrote one or two of the things. We had garlands and so on to add to the effectiveness.  I had to face the audience to lead the Santa Claus song at the end that was the signal to Santa himself to run in with his pack on his back.  Since I know so little about music I felt like an idiot to go through with all the motions!  But it seemed to be all right, as far as Cornville is a judge.  It would be different in a town!

            Afterward, when at last costumes etc. were collected, K. and another young man and Glen carried my things to the shack.  I surely was excited.  Almost all my packages from home and all came in that day’s mail, and were brought to the schoolhouse in the evening by the Johnson’s.

             I hardly had time to be homesick.   I took little ten-cent gifts to the little Hurst girls, and that was lots of fun, glass watches with leather and fob, filled with Pure Food candy, from a California mail order house.  We played croquet.  I got all the Girdners to come over for candy and to see my things.  They are lovely to me.  I showed them my entire photograph and Kodak book last night.  Mrs. G. said it seemed as if she knew my folks and felt as if they were her friends.  I hadn’t known before she thought that much of me.

              I’m brave now I’m well and have been staying alone all night.  Eva is too much the “baby” to leave home at night.  The boys sleep out and near the shack.  The school year is half over.

With very much love to you all, 

Always your  Elsie

2 Responses to “Cornville, Arizona Christmas of 1913”

  1. Shirley L. December 19, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Love reading her beautiful story… So much love and gratitude for even the smallest things… We all should take more time to be grateful and see what God has blessed us with, from day to day!

  2. Barb Waite December 20, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Thanks Shirley- I agree. None of us want to go back to using outhouses and bathing in a creek but there is something about finding joy in a simple life that is to be desired.

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