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Matamoras Minute: Christmas programs

(Photo provided by Lee Scott) The effects of the major snowstorm of November 1950 are still evident at Christmas season as shown in this downtown view of Matamoras. Despite the severity of the winter Christmas lights can be seen strewn above Main Street.

Christmas programs flourished throughout Matamoras during the holidays. Particularly those given by literary societies witnessed high attendance. Not only were they organized in town but Grandview, Mill Creek, and Parr Hill also had literaries which were especially busy during the holiday.

December 15, 1914 witnessed a Christmas Literary hosted by Matamoras High School and held in the Palace Theatre on Main Street. The Matamoras Enterprise ran an article soon thereafter which gives us an insight into the evening. It was a standing-room-only crowd with the main feature being a debate. Music was furnished by the Ellenburg sisters and a pantomime to the song “Nearer My God to Thee” was presented. Grace Hall gave an oration and the evening concluded with a five-act play entitled “Pumpkin Ridge”.

Then December 24, Christmas Eve, of that same year the Grandview School held a Literary in the Grandview Methodist Church. Two “drills” were presented. The first dealt with Santa Claus and the second with other familiar Christmas themes. A play was presented centered around Mr. and Mrs. Claus entitled, “All His Fault”, with Hardy Malone and Roxie Haught in the leading roles. Interspersed among all this were traditional Christmas songs and recitations. Passed out to the children were complimentary bags of candy and individual oranges. In the pre-radio, pre-television days a literary constituted a splendid evening of entertainment. The participants and audience all gathered following the performance and everyone stood around the room or outside in the chill of the night visiting and wishing one another the best of Christmas.

Advertising was a bit unique at Christmas because Lew Sharp, the editor of the Matamoras Enterprise, rewarded his faithful business sponsors over the past year with his heading of “Holiday Shoppers”. In the text that followed he methodically listed his advertisers and recommended that they be patronized when shopping for Christmas gifts.

The list is extensive and includes the town’s jeweler, F.D. Wermuth, Kollman’s Furniture Store, H.B. May’s Hardware, the Peoples Savings Bank, Handshumacher’s grocery, Hutchinson & Son, Konntz’s Men and Shoe Store, Cline & Son grocery, C.L. Heddleson’s Paints, the town’s tailor, Frank Burbacher, J.J. Young grocery, Stover’s Garage, the Big A Mill, Reinherr Brothers Bakery, Frank Rea’s Pies and Lunches, Louis Schultheis’ Leather Goods, S.E. Miracle & Son Monument Works, and the Palace Theatre where one could find a good place to relax for a break from Christmas shopping.

For some reason he included the dentist, Dr. H.S. Whitney. Perhaps it was in expectation of all the cavities caused by the candies and desserts of the season.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846. New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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