PO Box 601
176 N. Main St., Timberville VA 22853
CHRISTMAS IN BROADWAY
Excerpts from the memoirs of Harold Wood, REMEMBERING BROADWAY, (1996) with permission from his son, David Wood of Broadway, VA. Harold (1921-2008) lived in Broadway most of his life.
In his book, Harold Wood recalls that during his early years (the depression years), his family moved frequently from house to house in Broadway. As a result, many of his memories of Christmas are associated with a specific family home.
KNEIPLE HOUSE (1916-1928)
Church St and Miller St.
My first six Christmases were spent in the Kneiple House and in Keyser West Virginia. I cannot remember any of them.
SHOEMAKER HOUSE (1928-1931)
Church St. and Mason St.
My father was working at Court Manor as a night watchman during these years and I remember the Christmas mornings there well. We would go to bed early and be up very early on Christmas morning. We received a toy, game, book, shirt and gloves and some loose candy, nuts, and fruit in a brown bag. The gifts were placed under the tree unwrapped.
My father came home from work about 6:30 am and my mother would have a huge pot of oyster stew prepared for our breakfast. As a small boy, I would not eat the oysters, but loved the broth. After breakfast, I would exchange a small gift with our neighbor and friend Hazel Shoemaker. Another ritual was going by the path to Mr. and Mrs. Ed Moore’s on that morning and taking a gift or two to show them. They were dear neighbors, childless, always kept milk cows, supplying it to many homes nearby.
During those years, Harold also remembered Christmas in the first grade at the old Broadway Graded School:
Santa Claus came into the room walking up and down the aisles passing out Christmas treats. For some reason, it may have been the shoes, I always thought this person to be my brother Everett. I never found out for sure.
He recalled that: Belsnickling was a big thing in those days. Many groups would be on the streets each night. It was a Valley custom which lasted until World War II and then it was gone forever.
(Belsnickling was a Christmas and New Year custom which included masks and costumes worn by family members and friends while visiting neighbors. The fun started as the neighbors tried to identify each of the masked visitors by their voices often disguised. If they succeeded (or not), the mask was removed and refreshments were served to the whole group.)
He also recalled that: When I was a boy there was never a church service in Broadway on Christmas Eve. This time was devoted to the family being together at home.
HELBERT HOUSE (1931-1934)
North Main St.
We moved into the Helbert house in the fall of 1931 and from then until 1942, most Christmases found George Shannon and I together for at least some part of the day.
WHITMORE HOUSE (1934-1944
High St. and Lee St
I remember many Christmases in this house and many of them were spent with George Shannon and myself being together. Our Christmas trees were always placed in the southeast corner of our living room which faced High Street. Mr. Will Pence, my childhood Sunday School teacher, peddled cut cedar trees over town with his old truck and most could be purchased for 25 cents each.
We had our first string of electric lights which Violet (sister) had purchased at this house. There were about eight large bulbs to the string and they got mighty hot. My Mother would only allow them to be plugged in when someone was in the room. Also Violet purchased a little village set for under the tree. It consisted of a small yellow cardboard house and two small evergreen trees on stands. We used these as well as a tree top ornament for years.
The following incident also likely occurred in this house ……
The one Christmas remembered in this house was the year my high school graduation ring was lost. These rings cost about $8.00, a lot of cash money in the 1930’s. This probably happened in 1939. George and I retraced our activities, but the ring was not found. We put a “Lost” announcement in the post office lobby that day. I had received a new pair of leather dress gloves that year and later that day or the next, lo and behold the lost ring turned up inside the finger of my left glove.
My last boyhood Christmas was spent in this house in 1942, just before reporting to Camp Lee for Army induction.
What are your favorite Christmas memories???
Plains District Memorial Museum