Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Magnificent Christmas Tree -- Janet Lane Walters

I wish I could put pictures on this site but this is a memory and no one took pictures of the tree that ate a room in out house. The year was 1946. I was 10 years old. My father was a steelworker and now the war was over and life was back to normal and strikes happened. There were contracts to be made and almost every year or two the steelworkers went out on strike. Always around the winter holidays. Life was one of feast or famine.

My father usually found some kind of part time work during these times and we usually had a scanty Christmas. This year my sister was 6 and my brother 2. Since I was considered an adult being paid for babysitting by a neighbor and for taking care of my brother and sister., I was the tree-buyer designated. The tree never was put up until after the smaller ones went to bed. I was psyched since I not only was able to buy the tree but I could help decorate the tree.

Friends of my father ran the Veterans of Foreign Wars tree stand. I was sent there at 9 o'clock to get the tree. My friend took his little red wagon to haul the tree. The place we had to go was down forty steps under the railroad station or going all the way through town about a three mile trip. Going the shortest way seemed to be the best.

We reached the tree place and there were only a few trees left. Most of them made Charlie Brown trees look beautiful. These men had saved a special tree for me. This tree was 12 feet tall. The wagon was maybe four or five at best. The tree was full and beautiful and they charged me 50 cents for the tree. To me this was not only a bargain but the most wonderful tree I ever had seen.

Many struggles later with rope added to lengthen the pull rope on the wagon we managed to take the tree up all those steps to the house. My parents opened the door. My mother threw up her hands. "What have you done?" My father father just laughed. "She always has big ideas."

Fortunately the ceilings in the row house were 14 feet. The house was on 3 levels with three rooms on each level. Basement kitchen, dining room and furnace room. First floor living room, the spare room and the bathroom. Three bedrooms on the third floor.

The tree was going in the spare room. Once the tree was in the stand and anchored to the wall with hooks and rope we began to decorate. Fortunately the tree was placed in a corner since the lower branches extended well into the room. We only had enough decorations to do the front of the tree but no one would see the the back.

On Christmas morning my siblings were really impressed with the size of the tree. So were my friends. That was the year my brother got his first truck to push around. My sister got a doll and poked out the eyes. She did not like the glass beady ones staring at her. I got a chemistry set and a few days later I did my first experiment. The entire house and maybe even the neighbors smelled of rotten eggs. You can imagine what I made with that set.