CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

A selection of Christmas Memories from 2001.  We 
welcome your memories to add to the pages.


Daddy's Christmas Surprise
By
Lane Stiles Sergeant '59

 

One year Billy Joe told me that he was going to get behind the tree and wait
for Santa.  He said that he wanted to see him.  I really believed he would.
(Billy Joe has done a lot of really funny things!)  Now I think it was
probably because he was just trying to make me continue to believe in Santa
for as long as possible.  I did believe - - - forever and ever.  When I
finally had to face reality - it was one Christmas morning when I found
Daddy in the kitchen.  I told him that Santa had forgotten the socks that
were hung up.  He told me that I could be Santa and fill the socks for him
that year.  I did fill the socks and later had a really good cry about it.

Another year Billy Joe, Bobby and Bert bought Daddy a TV for Christmas.
Bobby Dickerson was at the house that Christmas Eve.  It was late and Daddy
had gone to bed.  Bert brought the TV home in a truck that night.  They
decided to set everything up.  I was going in and out of the kitchen - -
making popcorn to make noise so Daddy wouldn't get up.  He yelled out the
door one time and I told him I was just fixing popcorn.  The fellows put the
antenna out in the potato patch beside the house and ran the wire through
the living room window. (There was noise raising the window, etc.)  They
turned on the TV to get the "buzz" out of it and to be sure it wasn't just
"snow" on the screen when Daddy turned it on.

Well, Daddy came into the living room the next morning and was really
surprised!  He just loved it.  I think he almost cried.

 



Mama's Christmas Cakes
By
Beverly Guthrie Lougher '58

When Hazel and I were small, one of the special treats of Christmas was Mama's
Christmas cakes.  The kitchen in our old farm house became a magic land
of sugar, chocolate, nuts, caramel, coconut, and fruits - a child's paradise
of sweets.  She assembled the ingredients and spent about a week making
cakes.  White Lane, Caramel, Fresh Coconut, German Chocolate and of course
fruit cakes.  Hazel and I were allowed to "help".  Mostly we licked all the
spoons and bowls and watched this marvelous woman turn out these
masterpieces.  Her White Lane cake was six layers of the most beautiful cake
I have ever seen.  The recipe for White Lane Cake is over 200 years old.
The frosting was made up of milk, sugar, egg yolks and butter which was
boiled and then coconut, pecans, raisins, and vanilla were added and this
was spread over each layer.  She took great pride in each layer being the
same size and the cake could not be lopsided - no way.   When she started
these delicious concoctions, we knew Christmas was near.  We were allowed,
when we were old enough not to hurt ourselves, to crack the coconuts.  I
remember driving a nail into the "eyes" and draining the milk.  Then we
cracked the shell and dug out the meat.  This was grated on a hand grater by
Mama for her coconut cake.  There is no comparison with canned or frozen
coconut.  She mixed each cake by hand.  I would watch her beat the batter
and frostings until her arm would give out.  When all these wonderful cakes
were done, she would cover them with cake covers and store them in our back,
unheated bedroom.  I remember the look of satisfaction on her face when her
gift to her family was done. We enjoyed these cakes through out the holiday
season and she shared them with all who came to visit.  Most of our kinfolks
and neighbors knew about her cakes and made a point to visit.

 



Christmas Memories
By
J. Harold Thurmond '60


One Christmas I remember cost Mr. Brown a clutch in his car. I think it was 1959, could have been ’58. The school or one of the clubs had a float in the annual Christmas parade at Clayton. Mr. Brown’s black Chevy was fitted with a hitch to pull a rubber-tired farm wagon. A Nativity scene was built on the wagon with stable, manger and hay. Students were recruited for the characters and were dressed in appropriate costumes. I recall some wise men and angels with a large baby doll for Jesus. Ruth Anderson, ’60 was Mary, I was Joseph. The parade began at the north end of town and went down Main Street to the south end. Mary was seated. I stood, holding to her shoulder for support. The combination of hills, slow speed, starting and stopping and cautious driving required Mr. Brown to “ride the clutch”. By parade’s end the clutch was hot and basically worn out. Within a week he had to have it replaced. Our float was awarded first place. I don’t recall there being any prize money but if there were, it should have gone to Mr. Brown for his clutch. He, like always, was unselfish and I’m sure paid for the repairs out of his own pocket. 

One of the traditions of the Farm Family era was the annual Christmas party held for the farm families and staff. The ones I remember in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s took place in the old gym. There was a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, games, carols, refreshments and a present for each person. The practice of giving presents to each person was alive in the early ‘30s.  BJ has shown me archives lists from both sets of my grandparent’s folders that tell what was given. E.g.: Boy: pocket comb; Girl: lipstick; Boy: book; Girl: stockings. Nothing big but each person was remembered. One Christmas in the late ‘40s there was a door-to-door Santa for the farm family children. He came in a car a few nights before Christmas and asked what we wanted for Christmas. I believe he left a bag of hard candy and some oranges. My belief in Santa was suspended in 1951. My brother, William, got a softball; I got the bat. We saw Dad get out of a taxi with them when he brought them home. Santa did bring us each a glove the next year. 

Most of the local churches had Christmas programs. Wolffork Baptist usually presented a Nativity drama and had a Christmas tree with presents for the children. One year a rotund out-of-town visitor was enlisted to play Santa. He came in during the giving of presents and made his way around the room in his red suit and beard, Ho-Ho-Hoing and giving out goodies. Santa’s wife and four-year-old son were in the group. As Santa approached his son, the boy turned to his mother and shouted, “Mama, Santa has on Daddy’s shoes”! Needless to say, all the older folk had a good laugh.

 



Christmas Memories
By
Randall Hughes '59


Photo by Norman Poole, Freelance Photographer
1438 Davis Park Rd., Gastonia, N.C. 28052
used by permission

There are a lot of unpleasant memories about childhood on a farm, things like that old outhouse on a cold morning, or killing three or four rats in the feed barrel before you could feed the hogs, but Christmas was always pleasant. Even though we didn't get a lot at Christmas, maybe one nice toy and several lesser ones, or a new shirt or sweater, it was always one of the happiest times of the year. About the only time I ever saw an orange, Brazil nuts, or other exotic fruits and nuts, was in my Christmas stocking and, after I ate what I could from the bounty, Mom would take the rest and make a fruit salad for Christmas dinner. Now I have an orange tree in the back yard and all the oranges I could ever want but they were precious things in those days all the way from some far off place called Florida.

We never bought a tree (and of course, the artificial ones hadn't been invented yet) so Dad and Mom and I would walk through the woods on Dad's forty acres and pick out the perfect tree, cut it down and lug it back to the house. Sometimes we would find one during the summer and mark it for later harvest.  Even after Dad sold the farm and we moved to town, we would go to someone's farm and get permission to cut a Christmas tree. Dad would tie it on top of the car or let it hang out of the trunk and drag the street till we got it home. Mom would get out the decorations and we would decorate it. After Christmas, Mom would take each ornament and lovingly wrap it in it's own piece of tissue paper and pack them away until next year. I still have a few of the ornaments that I liberated from her attic several years ago. It's amazing how long some of those little glass balls can survive when you take care of them. They go on our tree every Christmas as a remembrance of by gone days and all those special Christmases.

 


When I Learned about Santa Claus 
By
Pat Wright McNulty ‘59 with a little help from her brother
Vernon Wright '60

 

When I was about 9 years old and Vernon was 8, we lived in an L shaped house on a farm in Union Point, GA. You had to go out onto the back porch to get from the bedrooms to the living room and kitchen. Christmas Eve that year we went to bed when we were told like the good children we were (ROFL), eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa. 

It was not very long before we had to get up (for a drink of water, of course). That satisfied our curiosity for a little while, but soon we needed another look. When we asked for a drink this time we were told in no uncertain terms to get back to bed and stay there! We returned to bed - but couldn’t go to sleep. Lying there wondering if Santa Claus had come yet Vernon finally said, “Why don’t YOU go see?” I knew I was not supposed to get up but, as you all know, Vernon can be very persuasive, especially when he tells me to do what I really want to do very much. Anyway, I soon got up and went back to the kitchen. Lo and behold - before I got my mother’s attention I could see that the kitchen table was covered with toys, including a View Master that I knew was mine
(I had discovered it under the clothes in my mother’s dresser drawer a couple of days before). Mother and my aunt were busy sorting toys to put under the tree. I quickly turned to sneak back to my bed. 

As I went back to the bedroom Daddy was waiting for me on the porch – blocking my path to the bedroom door. He had been retrieving toys from the wood shed and spied me headed to the kitchen. “Didn’t I tell you not to get up again?” he said in that tone of voice I knew not to challenge. “Yes, sir,” I replied, meekly. And with that I was rewarded with the helping hand of learning (as distinct from the board of education which was reserved for Vernon) to my backside. I have blamed Vernon for my spanking ever since because I, of course, had no choice in whether or not I disobeyed my parents. Vernon can be VERY persuasive, you see, and it was completely his fault.

And that is how we first learned the identity of Santa Claus. Two years later we lived in Stone Mountain and Daddy was in Korea with the Army. Vernon and I helped Mother put out the presents for our four younger siblings and that was when we first experienced the true joy of Santa Claus. 

 


Photo by Scott Feagin



Christmas with the Kellys
By
Susan Houghtaling Odom '57

As some of you may or may not know - in the summer between my junior 
(55-56) and senior (56-57) years at RGNS,  I decided (I thought I knew it 
all, then, too) not to return to RGNS for my senior year. You see, there was 
a boy I met that summer in Tallahassee.....anyway, I enrolled at Leon High 
School, but quickly became very depressed and lonely there (a large public 
high school with hundreds of students) and my ardor for my new boyfriend had 
quickly cooled. I was 16 years old, Christmas was coming, I was homesick for 
Rabun Gap, and it wasn't the best time in my life.  One day just before 
Christmas, we had some visitors.....Claude and Bea Kelly and Betty and 
Claudia. They had been visiting relatives south of Tallahassee and were on 
their way home to Rabun Gap in time for the holidays. They implored my 
mother to let me come home with them for Christmas, and of course I wanted 
to go very much. She said I could go, and I was the happiest person on 
earth! I spent Christmas with the Kellys  - they gave me a beautiful red 
sweater and matching skirt for a Christmas present. It was one of the best 
Christmases I have ever had. Of course, I knew my decision to stay in 
Tallahassee for my senior year was not a wise one, just a spur-of-the moment 
teenage desire. To this day I feel the Kellys had something to do with my 
being able to return to RGNS to complete my senior year. And I am 
glad they did.

 



The Christmas Caper
By
Bob Giles '53

My most memorable Christmas was 1943, when I was in the 3rd grade. 
My younger brother, Harold, and I planned to rob Santa  Claus. We lived
 in the country, so we went just outside the front yard and made a hideout.
 We dug a trench large enough to sit in, and placed a roof over it, dug a fireplace
 into the wall, and a hole down into the fireplace for a chimney. We would sit 
comfortably by the fire on Christmas Eve and wait to hear Santa's airplane
 land (kids in our area didn't accept the reindeer hypothesis). We would wait
 for Santa to go down the chimney, rush out to the airplane (I thought of it as a 
Piper Cub), each grab a bag of toys, and rush back to the hideout. We practiced
 the procedure several times. When Christmas Eve arrived, a light rain fell all day, 
and began to freeze on the trees as night approached. About bedtime we advised 
our mother that we were going out to the hideout to watch for Santa, being careful 
not to mention the intended crime. She answered in no uncertain terms "No you are
 not!!  Both of you are crazy; you would freeze to death out there!." We might not have
 frozen, but we probably would have been a little uncomfortable; by this time the 
hideout must have had at least a foot of water in it. Our Christmas was spoiled,
 so we went to bed, determined to stay awake and at least see the old Saint.
 We must have fallen asleep, because the toys were under the tree Christmas 
Morning, and we never even heard Santa. We thought we saw his airplane
 tracks in the road in front of our house the next morning, but since I'm a little
 older and, I hope, a little wiser now, I know we were mistaken. The weather 
that night was far below IFR minimums, so he had to use the sleigh and land 
on the roof.  We would have wasted our time in the hideout. All is well 
that ends well, or so I have heard. If we had been able to grab the bags of toys, old
 Nick would have certainly caught us. We forgot to make the hideout large enough
 to contain us and the bags, too. It still makes me shudder when I think of the
 newspaper headline the next morning after our capture "THE MOST DASTARDLY
 DEED IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD OCCURRED NEAR ATHENS, GEORGIA
 ON CHRISTMAS EVE: GILES BROTHERS ROBBED SANTA CLAUS". I am happy
 for the freezing rain that night, otherwise Harold and I would still be in the
 Oconee County chain gang, with no possibility of parole...

The saga continues.......

The story hasn't ended yet; no, I no longer plan to rob Santa. I still plan to 
hide and watch to see if he flies an airplane or sleigh. I thought that I would 
settle the issue on Christmas Eve, 1956, when I was stationed in Alaska. My crew 
was on duty that night. The radar site at Cape Prince of Wales picked him up, 
then passed him on to me. I tried to make radio contact, with no success. As he 
approached   my site, Cape Romanzof, I asked my Assistant Supervisor, 
Howard Hillman, to monitor the scope, and ran outside to make a visual 
determination. No luck, Santa was over a low level overcast. I went back inside, 
called Cape Newingham, asked that they look for the target, and try to make an
 identification; no luck either. I have tried to hide and watch several times since,
 but always fell asleep. I plan to try again this year, and keep my tomcat Buster
 "Baby Boo Boo" with me to keep me awake; he likes to pinch with his front teeth.
 I have scars to   prove it...

 

Rabun Ramblings

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