EDITOR: This letter was
written for last week's Press, but we issued the paper earlier than usual and with an overcrowded Christmas mail service, the communication reached us too late. However, we're in the Christmas spirit yet and readers of this column will find it timely this week. *****
Dec. 20. - Signs of approaching Christmas: One whole business center in Cleveland Heights "landscaped" with illuminated Christmas trees. (That means real cooperation among merchants): the beautiful 80 foot evergreen on our Public Square, donated by the May Co. (free plug for that very nice store) all degrees of ruddiness and paunchiness among the store Santa Clauses; the brisk step of everyone but the mailman; the friendly smiles exchanged between perfect strangers; the amazing patience of salesgirls; the chivalry of dear, dead days - almost beyond recall, when men rose in street cars, to give their seats to ladies; even the unsmilingest man I ever knew (he is in the South Euclid post office) broke out in smiles the other day, and revealed beautiful teeth (his own) and a captivating dimple. Even Buster, our dog, has the Christmas spirit. The boys trained him a year ago to carry home the newspaper and store packages; but we had abandoned the custom after he became over-curious about a package containing meat. He always accompanies me to the store - and waits patiently outside. A certain day last week I set out for groceries, and ended up with some Christmas packages and a long roll of wrapping tissue. Half-way home the packages began to slide, and the groceries took on the weight of a ton. I set everything down on a low stone wall and began to re-load. Along came a flash of tan-and-white, catching up the roll of paper as he ran, carrying it proudly to our doorstep, and - with a new hold - on indoors. (This story is poorly told, for you already knew how it was going to turn out). There were many amusing and heart-warming experiences on the trip downtown, that I referred to in my last letter. But one chance meeting filled me with pity and set me to wondering... You remember my writing of a neighbor at the end of our street, who is losing her sight? The family has been pursued by misfortune; last winter her husband almost died of double pneumonia - had to be kept for days in an oxygen tent; their money was all used up. This summer they moved to smaller - and cheaper quarters. The chance meeting was with their only daughter, 17, who was so full of elan a year ago. The child had lost 30 pounds - with worry over her mother, who had just passed through a very serious major operation. There is no money for Christmas. Marie had been pleading with her father to let her quit school and go to work. I entreated her not to quit school now - and lose those credits. She has not yet quit. The poor child wanted so desperately to give her mother a nice Christmas. The next day, in writing to you, I was sorely tempted to appeal to you. But, on sober reflection, I realized that this is Cleveland's problem. And Cleveland will take care of them. Will tell you more later.
In contrast, let me tell you of the gay Christmas party in the basement of our church. Our large Sunday school class - of over 100 married couples - of which I have spoken before, met there for 7 o'clock dinner, the singing of Christmas carols, the showing of technicolor movies, taken of the various members on "stunt night," a short "broadcast," and finally the Christmas play, "Dust of the Road." Let me speak briefly of the "broadcast," because of its repercussion in one quarter. I had been asked to give a reading of my own choosing, in keeping with the Christmas spirit. Since the play was very serious, I decided on something in a lighter vein. The class members, in filling in their attendance cards in Sunday school a week before, were asked to write down their special hearts' desires. Some were serious, some, utterly flippant. Fortunately, only about fifty responded. The hearts' desires were woven into rhyme, and then "broadcast" - over a public address system. The women had asked for jewels, trips, fur coats galore, and automobiles. The next morning an automobile salesman, who happened to be a guest of one couple, asked me very adroitly for the names of the women who had asked for automobiles. I gave them to him - and hope I haven't embarrassed any husbands at this Christmas season. It's a good thing there were no fur coat salesmen there.
Oh, I could write volumes, but Virgil reminds me it is mail time. And this Friday evening mail must be the dead line. With a heart full of good wishes, I am,
Florence B. Taylor
Next -1/9/41 - A foreboding. Never too old