Back in December 1912, I was 3-1/2 years old. We lived in a small friendly farming community and my folks had a restaurant called Art's Cafe.
In the back part of the cafe were two rooms. One was the teachers' dining room. At that time teachers just rented a room in the community and came to the cafe for their evening family-style dinner. The room had some soft chairs and a piano so it became somewhat of a social hall for them.
Weather drawing by Amber Britton in Ms. Hemstad's third-grade class at Baxter Elementary School.
My older sister and I were told never to bother the teachers and never go in that room. It was a big no-no. The other room was our living room away from home. It had a small bed so we could take naps, our toys, a davenport, lots of books, Mom's sewing machine, her crochet needles, etc. She was always "on call" for any need in the cafe.
This is a true Christmas Eve story:
My sister and I were so happy. Daddy was closing the shades in the front of the cafe and turning off the lights. He was closing early and we could all go home together, which was a real treat.
We were twirling around and dancing, just so happy. Then all of a sudden things changed. We weren't going home, we had to wait. Daddy was in the kitchen. Coffee was brewing and we could smell pancakes. Mommy was taking out her trusty treadle Singer Sewing machine. Finally, Mommy told us what happened.
Santa Claus was just outside of town and was letting his reindeer trot on the road before their big trip around the world. Something spooked the reindeer and they tried to jump a fence, but didn't make it. Everything was a tangled mess.
Santa rescued the deer - and found that none of them were hurt - tipped the sleigh upright and put everything back in it. While doing that, Santa really ripped his pants.
He was coming back into town and saw Daddy turn the lights off so he knew we were still there. He needed some help. So Daddy was fixing Santa something to eat and Mommy was going to mend his pants. We went by the back door and could hear the "reindeer" stomping their feet and snorting and Santa was in the teachers' dining room.
I was bubbling with excitement. I had to see him! I tiptoed to the "no-no door" and peeked inside. There he was! His red jacket was on the chair and his big boots were on the floor alongside. He was sitting at the table in his red long underwear union suit with white buttons, eating a big stack of pancakes. He was really Santa Claus!
I closed the door very quietly, grabbed my dolly and jumped up and sat on my bed. I was being the best and the good-est little girl in the whole county.
Do I believe in Santa? You bet your boots I do!
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