The year 2017 is soon coming to an end and we are looking back on our year of activities. We have welcomed quite a large group of visitors to our county as well as some local people who were searching for clues to their family heritage or perhaps wanted to obtain one of our Magoffin County publications. We appreciate all of you. We are on the countdown of another year of submitting a weekly column to the Salyersville Independent. Our 4th Journal of the Magoffin County Historical Society will soon be in the mail, concluding 39 consecutive years of printing that publication.
We have also completed two volumes of the Sesquicentennial People, Places and Events books (each about 440 pages) and the third and last one will soon be finished.
There is still much work to be done on the manuscripts that have been started in previous years, a couple of which are only in need of having picture pages completed.
It has been a hard year for us here at the "Home Twenty" as Todd used to call our historical society, as we lost our co-founder and mentor on June 9th of this year. Todd was our inspiration as he had a talent for seeing what could be done for the betterment of our county and organization and then leading our group to see that it was completed. He was not one to "steer" others but always tried to do the greatest amount of work himself. He is indeed greatly missed.
Much of Todd’s writings have been saved and we treasure them. We found a piece Todd had written about Christmas time back in the 1930’s on Burton Fork and it is being reproduced here:
Todd wrote: "I actually feel we children looked forward to the Christmas season a bit more than youngsters do today as the majority of them get toys every trip their parents make when they go out shopping. About all they have to do is start to throw a tantrum and parents get the wanted item in order to quiet that spoiled child, yep, we’re all guilty of it.
"In the "good old days" we boys would go Christmas tree hunting and take our rabbit and squirrel dogs along for there was always a need to supplement the food supply for the dinner table. We would go all over Burton Fork looking for the best shaped tree then usually ended up cutting the one we had first sized up.
"Our sisters would make tinsel for the tree out of bright red paper and some popcorn that had been strung on thread. We boys ate all the popcorn that "accidentally" fell off and we made sure there were several "accidents".
"We hung our stockings on the mantle over the fireplace. We boys cheated on Santa for we used our sister’s long knee-length stockings to hang so they would hold more goodies. We hung them on the sides of the fireplace for we didn’t want to obstruct Santa’s passageway down that chimney. We never questioned how he got down with a roaring fire in the grate for he was our hero and capable of doing anything.
"We all slept in the same room with the stockings we had hung and would pretend to go to sleep early. Somehow Santa worked a miracle for he would slip in and fill those stockings and be out again without our knowing, no matter how hard we tried to catch him in the act.
"Sometimes we would wake up before Mom and Dad but we would act as if we were asleep until they awakened, then came the much anticipated time to get our stockings and see what goodies they held. There would be a big apple on top, then an orange, then some nuts. After that came the stick candy and finally right in the toe of that stocking would be a little cap pistol and a couple of rolls of caps for us boys. In that moment we boys became "Wild West Cowboys!" Of course, the girls became instant "mommies" for they received dolls.
"A train, a truck or a new bike would have been an astounding gift for us in those days. We didn’t get a bike until we got old enough to "hire out", hoeing corn for fifty cents a day in order to save up enough money to buy a second hand bike. I never owned a new bicycle.
"I can still remember the taste of that apple, orange and candy. We would generally use up all the caps in the cap pistol before nightfall and the little five-cent cap pistol would be about done for also…and all the popcorn would have disappeared off the tree.
"May each of you recapture a little of the magic that you felt in yesteryear’s Christmas and we wish all good things for you in the new year that is almost upon us."
Along the same lines, one of our friends, Judy Wireman Salyer, sent us a clipping by an unknown author, taken from the Louisville Daily Courier that was printed on 25 December 1849. It rings as true today as it did all those 168 years ago.
"We tender to our readers the compliments of the season, and wish them all a merry and a happy Christmas. May this be one of the brightest and most pleasant days of the whole year to them, and may they live to see many returns of this festive anniversary, and know the better how to enjoy each successive Christmas.
"The young folks will greet this day as a real jubilee. They will be loaded with confections, toys and bon-bons, by affectionate relations and friends and doting parents. Long may it be before dark clouds obscure their now cheerful and happy countenances.
"Let us all welcome Christmas with gladness. It is the season of happiness, when friendship sends its greetings, when love warms the heart, when benevolence opens its liberal hand, and when charity imparts its blessings. Let us be temperate in the enjoyment of its pleasures, and while we are enjoying the comforts of our cheerful firesides and the pleasures of a reunion in the family circle, let us not forget the poor and needy widow and orphan,
those on whom disease has laid a cruel hand, and who are suffering for the want of many little things we could readily dispense with. Let us make ourselves happy, by making happy, as far as lies in our power, all those around us.
"Again we wish our kind readers a merry, merry Christmas."