Search billions of records on

Index to Submitters of The Cozy Corner Letters
To Dallas County Texas Archives main page

December 20, 1896


Dear Mr. Big Hat and Cousins:
     Some people of the nineteenth century, in all their wisdom and might, are going to revolutionize things. The children of the coming ages shall not suffer as they have suffered; they will do away with legends and superstitions and teach the little ones that their grandmothers and great-grand-mothers were not only foolish, but sinful creatures, who were aided and abetted in their work by the equally foolish and sinful grandfathers and great-grandfathers. In other words, they are going to be Thomas Gradgrinds and cram the children with facts, cold hard facts, and nothing but facts. They are going to do away with Santa Claus!
     What, do away with Santa Claus? That jolly, superlatively fat old fellow, with his rosy cheeks and long white whiskers, who has brightened so many homes and made glad so many childish hearts in days gone by? In the name of the millions of children, who this Christmas, are so eagerly expecting him, I protest. In the name of great numbers of older persons who look back upon our childhood Christmases as the brightest pictures in our book of life, I protest with still greater vehemence.
     What harm has Santa Claus done? I don't know, but if I did, rest assured, I wouldn't tell it. I love him far too well for that. I am indebted to him for too many hours filled with naught but pleasure, for too many tender memories, yes, if I must admit it, for too many dolls and dishes, books and sugar plums, to ever breathe one word against his fair name. He has not interfered with the "true sentiment" of Christmas, I'm sure, for we all know, and have known, ever since we knew old Santa Claus, that in celebrating the twenty-fifth of December, we were commemorating the birth of Christ; that we gave gifts and received gifts on this happy day, because on the very first of Christmases, many, many years ago, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son" as a personal gift to all who might live in any age. He has not made the children disobedient, nor full of other naughtiness, has he? Certainly not, for all children know that "Santa Claus hears little boys and girls when they quarrel," and that to all who are not good, he only brings a switch, instead of the good things for which they wished. By the way, I wonder what becomes of all bad children at Christmas time? There never was a stocking with a switch in it found by any of my acquaintances.
     "But," say some, "the children should know from whom each gift comes, that they may give thanks and gratitude where thanks and gratitude belongs." Well, it seems to me, that when we have arrived at the age of accountability, there is time enough to say "Thank you, Uncle John," an, "I'm ever so much obliged, Aunt Mary," for every gift we receive, and to feel that we must give uncle John and aunt Mary something next Christmas, because they gave us something this Christmas. Besides, did you ever see a child busy with the stocking full of treasures "old Santa Claus" brought, who didn't have a heart full of love and gratitude for everybody? And, how does the Santa Claus method of giving compare with the scriptural injunction, "Let not thy right hand know what they left hand doeth?"
     Do away with Santa Claus? Why, whatever would we do, if it wasn't for the dear old saint! What would the children do the week before Christmas, if they had no Santa Claus to whom they might write innumerable letters? Don't you remember the letters you used to write and read aloud to mamma, papa, or any one who would listen? And, don't you remember climbing to the very top of the highest gatepost to put it where old Santa's messengers would be sure to get it, as they passed? And then, climbing up there again in a little while to see if it was gone, and the feeling of satisfaction you had when you found that it really and truly was gone? Pray tell me, if you can, what would the difference be 'twixt Christmas eve's eve, and any other eve, if you didn't know that Santa Claus would come down the chimney that night to count the children of the house? Does he come? Why, when you ran to the grate next morning before the fire burned too bright, couldn't you see the "tracks" left by the runners of his sled, and the queer figures which was each of your names in "hog latin?" If you couldn't, you certainly had no "black mammy," older brother or sister, or a fun-loving father who got to the fire before you did.
     So, I really can't begin to think of a Christmas eve with the chief attraction banished. What fun would it be to go to a Christmas tree, if you knew no Santa would be there, or you were not to hurry home when 'twas over, so you could get to sleep before time for him to come? Perhaps, the story mother tells of the little Babe of Bethlehem would be just as sweet, but I don't believe 'twould be half the fun to play "blind man's buff," "I spy," or "Old William-a-tremble-toe," if the children didn't know when they were tired of play, they were going to hang up mother's stocking, because theirs wasn't half big enough to hold the good things they'd asked old Santa Claus to bring.
     And, at last, the Christmas morning! What a rush, what a scamper for the stockings, and how good old Santa Claus has been! For, aren't the stockings cram full and running over? There's the very book Mary wanted, the doll with "open-and-shut eyes" that Ellie had talked so much about and the pock
[missing text] ______ and marbles Tom had so devoutly _____ so Santa Claus wouldn't forget, ____ candy, the nuts and the fruit _____.
     Do [away with] Santa Claus? No, not yet, ____. Let us leave as long as we can _____ is so sweet to so many of us. In ___ banishing him from our own homes, ___ we send him to bless and cheer the homes of the poor and needy whom we know?
     And, now will you not repeat with me, the prayer of a little boy, to whom old Santa Claus had been so especially good:
    "God bless papa, God bless mamma,
     God bless sister," then a pause.
     And, the young lips murmured reverently,
    "God bless Santa Claus."

Wills Point, Kaufman Co., Tex.

TO CORRESPONDENTS -- When writing a letter to this department, first give your full name, postoffice and state. Use pen and ink, on smooth paper, not larger than note size. Write only on one side of the paper and do now sew, paste or pin the sheets together. These rules must be observed to insure publication.

FLORENCE WORTH, Decatur, Wise Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: Will you admit me into your Cozy Corner? I am rather bashful, or you would have heard from me sooner. I am somewhere between 12 and 15 years old. I am very fond of reading. How many of the cousins have ever heard "Barriers Burned Away?" I have read it, and I think it is good. The pansy is my favorite flower. Winnie Williams, I think your last letter was just splendid, and I agree with what you said. Joe Dawson, I think you have turned to be a poet. I see many of the cousins speak about their chums, so, I will tell you about mine. We visit often and just see lots of fun together.

DON ROBERTS, Pittsburg, Camp Co., Tex. -- Buenos dios, Senor Grande Sombrero! A bow to the bonito senoritas, and a hearty shake of the hand to mi amigos, the boys. I once more grapple with the mighty pen and launch forth in an endeavor to decorate the immaculate columns of the Cozy Corner with the rantings of my immature mind, inspired by the splendid letters of er -- er -- well, as Cousin Lantie Blum says, we have 10,000 members of our corner, and as space is valuable, it would not be treating Mr. Big Hat right to mention all their names. So, I will name none, for, as you all know, under the wise and discerning management of Mr. Big Hat, none but the good letters are published. The rest go to the feed trough of that rapacious mule. Consequently, it is a compliment to have one's letters published. Isn't it, Mr. Big Hat? Mesquite Lorraine, where art thou? Hast thou given me the marble heart? And, Cousin Gay, that was too bad about that bicycle contest, wasn't it? But, such is life. Cheer up and try, try again, etc. Many thanks for your splendid compliment, Cousin Lela R., and you, too, Cousin Alice E. Griffin. I also extend thanks to other cousins who complimented that hunting yarn of mine, and will say to those cousins who like a little recreation after digesting the __nambulations of learned essays that usually emanate from the colossal brain of Friend Joe and a few others. I have had quite a number of similar adventures, and one very exciting one (to me) with a sure enough ghost, who was not unlike Banquo's, inasmuch as it refused to down[?], for awhile, at least. But, as our corner is always chuck full of good letters, I don't want to thrust them upon an unwilling audience. Now, cousins, if perchance you should some day describe my appearance, don't imagine that, because I sign myself Don Roberts and speak Spanish, that I am a chile-eating Greaser, with a complexion like a pumpkin, in the balmy days of August, and have hair like the bristles of a blacking brush, for I assure you, I am an Anglo-Saxon native of these United States of the south, and last, but not least, a native of that grand empire within itself, the great Lone Star state. And, I think that the cape jasmine for an emblematic flower is capable and suitable of representing the Cozy Corner and the great state it is published in. Consequently, I cast my vote for the beautiful cape jasmine.

MYRTLE MARCH, Wills Point, Van Zandt Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat, Mr. Farmer and all other smart people: There, cousins, don't be frightened; it's nobody but me, the same old Myrt March. "I do know, Myrtle," remarked Miss Myrdoch, the other day. "If I were you, next time I wrote to The News, I'd try to put something sensible in my letter." And, ever since that eventful hour, I've been puzzling my poor brain, or the empty place in my head, where the brain should be, trying to elucidate a line or two that would come up to her high standard; but, I've given up. I really don't know what will ever become of me, unless Mr. Farmer, or some other of the other shining lights of the Cozy Corner, will charitably undertake the herculanean task of filling the vacuum in my head, which nature and Gene so abhor. I believe I can easily learn the first lesson and maybe I can sell turnip greens enough to pay my tuition. Olie Mae Rogers, would you have the audacity to doubt my veracity, or even to insinuate that I would prevaricate? If so, please allow me to remark that I consider you a highly supercilious, superlatively dogmatical kind of person, anyhow. Leroy Fulmer, I expect you do hate "to kill a wild flower in the field." Wouldn't be at all surprised if you hated to kill a weed just as bad. Most boys are so lazy, they hate to kill anything, except time. Lantie Blum, isn't it about time were hearing from you, in regard to the flower contest? Before the polls close, however, I'd like to cast my vote for the red rose, of which I am an ardent admirer. Now, we all know that Friday's News is the most interesting of all papers, but did you know that the first newspaper ever printed by steam made its appearance on Friday? Among other notable events which occurred on this "unlucky" day, are the discovery of America, discovery of the Hudson river, the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, the founding of St. Augustine, and the organization of the first Masonic lodge in America. George Washington, William Shakespeare, Dr. Spurgeon and Napoleon Bonaparte were each born on Friday; while Caesar was assassinated, Joan of Arc burned, Charles I beheaded, and President Lincoln shot on the same day of the week. The famous battles of Waterloo, Bunker Hill and New Orleans were fought on Friday. The declaration of independence was signed on Friday, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were married on "hangman's day." Friday is also supposed to be the day on which our Savior was crucified. Freja was a Saxon god, and the name "Friday," we get from Freja's day. One of the cousin's remarks on flirting brings to mind a little piece that went the rounds of the newspapers several years ago. The celebrated Dr. Talmage, in a sermon, made use of the expression, "Flirtation is damnation," and a witty newspaper correspondent, commenting on the remark, said:

"If flirtation is damnation,
   Our fears away we'll fling,
For, if he's right, damnation's quite
   A pleasing sort of thing."

JOE HARRIS, Hillsboro, Hill Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I have been reading the letters of the Cozy Corner for a long time, and have decided to write and ask if you will admit another Texas boy into your happy band. I will cast my vote for the beautiful white rose. I saw in last week's paper, where John Collins said he had lived in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Connecticut and Maryland. My goodness, he's been to lots of places, but I'm ahead of him! I've been to Arkansaw! Well, cousins, I want to tell you about the biggest snake I ever saw. One day, as I was riding though the woods, I saw a snake and thought I'd measure it. I took my lariat rope, which was twenty-five feet long, and placed one end of it at its head, and the rope lacked about six feet of being as long as the snake. I'll tell you, snakes are as thick as skeeters around here. George Butcher, I agree with you about the girls. I think there is nothing so near an angel as a girl that is just sweet 16. Some of the cousins say they like to dance. May be I'd like to dance better if my feet weren't so large. I guess some of the cousins will like to know how old I am. I am just one year older than I was this time last year. Cousin Ella Clark, I think you a little too hard on us boys. Joe Farmer, if you are in love, as I hear you are, you will do well to follow these directions: Sure cure for love -- Take twelve ounces of dislike, twelve pounds of resolution, five grains of commonsense, two ounces of experience, a large sprig of time, three quarts of cooling water of consideration, set this over a gentle fire of love, sweeten with the sugar of forgetfulness, skim it with the cork of conscience, let it remain, and you will quickly find ease and be restored to your senses. These things can be had at the apothecary of Understanding, next door to Reason, on Prudence street, in the village of Contentment. Cousins Gene Myrdock, Ludie Sanders, Myrtle March and Wilhelmine Clark, come again; you all write interesting letters.

GENIA McBRAYER, Paluxy, Hood Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat: If you will permit me to say a few words in the Cozy Corner, I will feel very grateful, as this is my first attempt. I have long been a silent admirer of the Cozy Corner, and have often thought I would write, but could never collect my thoughts, and, too, was afraid that dreadful Peggy would devour my letter. It seems to be very stylish to tell your age on first acquaintance, and in order to keep up with the style, I guess I must tell mine. I am sweet 16. Education seems to be the main subject for the older cousins, and pets, the subject for the younger ones. But, as I have neither, I will not have very much to write about. Cousin Gene, surely you and I are relatives, as we have very near the same name. Oh, I beg your pardon, Miss Genevieve, I did not mean to offend you by claiming kin with you, for I am sure we do not favor in the least. You have auburn hair, a little inclined to be curly (especially when the curlers are handy), brown eyes, very fair with a dimple in the chin. You are industrious, kind and loving, and have ways that would charm the heart of even a farmer. Write again, Ethel Rose, your letters are very interesting. Also, Leila Du Bose, Dixie O'Neal and several others I would like to mention.

NELLIE WHITE, Weatherford, Parker Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I would like very much to join you in the Cozy Corner. I am 11 years old, and this is my first attempt to write, so I hope you will let me in. I have a wheel and can ride very fast. As voting time is nearly up, I will vote for the sweet blue violet. I hope my letter will not reach Peggy. If it does, I will try again. My papa gets The News all the time. I have no pets, but have lots of dolls. I enjoy reading the letters very much. I am sure Bessie Milan is not the only one who has the headache. I hope Cousin Joe Dawson will write again.

THELMA VERE, Decatur, Wise Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: I have long been an admirer of the Cozy Corner, but as I am a timid little thing, I had not the courage to write before. I am 14 years old. I go to the Decatur public school. I sit with Florence Worth, and as we are very lively, we often get into trouble. Florence and I are about the same age, and have known each other all our lives. Do any of the cousins ever go horseback riding? Florence and I go very often, and we sure have fun. How many of you have ever read the following books: "The Fatal Glove," "Thaddeus of Warsaw," "Lena Rivers" and "West Lawn?' I have read them all, but "Lena Rivers," and think they are all good. Joe Farmer and Genevieve Myrdock, come again. I enjoy reading your letters. Well, I will close, as Florence wants to write, too, and we haven't but one pen, as we are at home and have left our pens at the college. I vote for the pansy.

JESSIE ROBERTS, Killeen, Bell Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: Here I am, a little cross-eyed, pigeon-toed, crane-necked, Roman-nosed and sky-blue-reddish-haired cousin, standing outside, bawling for admittance, and if you will permit me among you good-looking cousins, I will walk in with the grace of an elephant and chat with you a while, that is, if that little old flapped-eared donkey doesn't have any objections. Cousins, couldn't some of you who live next neighbor to Peggy, run over there and choke him to death, or tie him up, so that this everlasting nonsense, which I am capable of talking quite often, will have a chance to appear in print. Cousins, I do not want to intrude, but as I have been a silent reader for quite a while, and this is my first attempt, I hope you will receive me. I want to ask some of you intelligent cousins a question, and this is it: Did you ever have to go to school to one of your (old maid) sisters? Well, if you did, I, indeed, sympathize with you; at least, I ought to, for at the present date, I am going to an old maid, and she is my sister. Oh, my! how I do catch it! Strict? Well, I kinder guess she is. You would, too, if she had you standing up in the corner, and on a desk, besides, forty feet high, more or less, with a dunce cap on, to boot. Why, sometimes, I almost wish I was a wild Injun, living on grasshoppers and weeds. Now, some of you cousins may think I am something of that kind, from my conversation, but I am not, and you needn't take me for a monkey, either. I have just lost my grammar and can't find the dictionary, and therefore, my letter is not as flowery as it might have been. I don't think it will look as sweet as a big June rose in print, but what's the odds, if Peggy is pleased with it? I am sure I am. I will venture to say, cousins, that there is not a boy or girl in this grand old Lone Star state that lives in a lovelier part of the state than I do. Bell county is both a mountainous and a prairie country, although, the mountains here would be called hills in a truly mountainous region. Yet, they are mountains to us. I live out on the plains, three miles from the city of Killeen. Now, I don't think even Mr. Big Hat knows how large Killeen is, so, I will describe it as nice as I can. You already know how nice that will be. Now, I never tell them things you make soap out of, so you needn't doubt a word I say. Killeen is situated on the grand and magnificent river Nolan. This beautiful river is not quite deep enough to sail a steamboat, but I think a thousand years from now, a good-sized frog will be compelled to swim, instead of wading across it. Cousins, if you could only look in at Killeen and see the large business houses, beautiful mansions and the sidewalks. Oh, they are grand! You can see men, women and children passing up and down, happy as the bird that flies. Now, I just know if you were to see all of this, you would get up before breakfast and roll for our little town, Killeen, which is blessed with sensible people. If you think I am not telling the truth, when I say Killeen is a sensible town, remember that I don't live in town. I am sorter green, like our Cousin Herbert T. The very idea of his digging a well for a post hole is quite shocking to me. I would love to have been his boss. If I wouldn't have made him root for his living, my name is not what it is. He would never have picked another bale of cotton in a day, as long as he lived. As this is my first attempt, I feel a delicacy in articulating, and as I am in danger of Peggy, dear, I will tarry no longer, only wishing if Peggy attempts to eat this, he will get it hung in his throat. Then, alas! poor little Peggy would dream no more of delicious meals of nonsense and note paper.

BESSIE SMITH, Whitney, Hill Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: Here I am again, after an absence of a few months. I would not write again, but I wished to vote for a flower, as I noticed in Lantie Blum's letter so few had voted. I will cast my vote for the cream rose, the queen of flowers. Helen Harlan, yes, I have a sister named Lena, and she went to school in Waco in 1890-91. She is married now. No, Era May Saape, I have not quit the Cozy Corner, and am not likely to, if Mr. Big Hat will let me come. I have just been reading "Children of the Abby." I don't like it at all. Our class (the seventh grade) are reading "The Vicar of Wakefield" at school. I like to go to school real well, and we have the best teachers we have had in a long time, especially my teacher. Winnie Williams, write often. Your letter was real nice. John B. Collins, I think you have traveled a good deal. Come again, Ella M. Clark, Frankie Assiter, Ona Payne, Maud Carson, Bessie Bee, Gene Myrdock, Joe Farmer and Ethel Eldridge. I enjoy your letters very much. I suppose all the cousins will be glad when Christmas comes, for I suppose they will all have a nice time. We are going to have two weeks holiday Christmas at Whitney. It is getting cold weather now. I went to Sunday school this morning, and I tell you, it was cold. Miss Big Bonnet, how did you and your six little friends spend Thanksgiving day? Did you have a nice time? Write and tell the cousins about it. Cousins, what is your favorite study? Mine is history. Juanita St. Clair, come again. Juanita, you would not have known McKinley was elected in Whitney, but for a wheelbarrow ride. Whitney went for Bryan. Mamie Hewitt, you did get your verse a little backward, but it was all right. I know what it is to make a mistake when writing to The News. I see there are not many votes for the cream rose, but I hope it will beat, anyhow. Sara Crewe, I suppose you have read "Sara Crewe; or What Happened at Miss Minchin's?" If you have not, you had better. Are you as good as Sara? Do all the cousins read the Woman's Century part of The News? If you don't, you miss some good stories. I have been reading "The Widdow Doodle's Courtship," by Josiah Allen's wife. If you want to read something funny, read it, especially, the pieces called "A Pleasure Exertion," "The Summer Boarders," and "A Nite of Troubles." I am taking music. I like to take [it] real well. What has become of Rosa Lee Hamblyn? She used to write almost every week. As Mr. Big Hat is so crowded, I will close. My age is 12 years. Success to The News and all the cousins!

IVAN JUDGE, Tyler, Smith Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: Here comes another boy to join your happy band. I want to improve my writing and punctuation. I have read "Thaddeus of Warsaw," Washington's life, Napoleon Bonaparte's life, "First Study in American History," "Classics from Plato," "Jason's Quest," and "Hawthorne's Wonder Tales." I am 10 years of age. Do any of the cousins know when the foundation of the Alamo was laid? I am going to try to be promoted to the fifth grade by Christmas. This is my favorite memory gem. Do any of the cousins know who is the author of it?

"We cannot hope to be mowers,
And gather the ripe golden years,
Without first being sowers
And watering the furrows with tears.

"It is just as we take it,
This beautiful world of ours;
Life's garden will yield as we make it,
A harvest of thorns, or of flowers."

    This, I think, is the meaning of a story written by Hawthorne, called "The Great Stone Face." I hope my letter will not reach Peggy's basket. Christmas will soon be here, and I have a faint suspicion that Santa Claus will bring me a book. I will tell you about it in my next.

KATIE NORTON, Rusk, Cherokee Co., Tex. -- Mr. Big Hat and cousins: 'Tis raining. The sound of the rain drops, as they fall playfully on the roof overhead, is soothing, as every one knows "A Rainy Day," with the melancholy wind (of November) making such a ceaseless, mournful sound outside, brings a feeling of sadness. So, in order to kill this "feeling of sadness," I again obtrude my presence into the bright and merry Cozy Corner. But nevertheless, the ceaseless wail of the wind, now and then, disturbs me, as it brings the rain against the house with sudden force. But --
    "Into each life, some rain must fall,
    Some days be dark and dreary."

     How much the weather resembles the human life. There is no one who does not have their dark days and their bright days -- days of sorrow and despair, days of sunshine and joy. Most all of those dark days have stamped their impress in memory's book, never to be blotted out, for they are filled with grief, disappointment, sorrow, and often covered with tears. But, since I began writing, the clouds have broken, and bits of blue sky appear here and there, and the sun is shining brightly. Mr. Farmer, aren't you afraid you flattered the little "school marms" almost too much? Willard Marl, I was disappointed with you last letter, not because it was dull and uninteresting, but because you failed to describe England. Gene, I must congratulate you on having such an extraordinary girl for a chum. Now, Myrtle, I want you to tell us why Gene voted for the red, red rose. Well, cousins, how did you all enjoy Cousin Ludie's and Herbert's real pen pictures of themselves? I thought they were splendid. They have been described, and now the question is, who will be next. I see Mr. Big Hat has promised to let us describe some one in the future. But, (as the little negro says) I don't care, "jist so taint me."

- December 20, 1896, The Dallas Morning News, p. 14, col. 5-7.
- o o o -