This holiday season, residents of the Newburg area were taken on a trip down Memory Lane as they viewed the “A Christmas Past,” display that had them reminiscing over the sights of various treasures of an old-fashioned Christmas.
In early October, a group of ladies from Newburg put their heads together and came up with several different ideas in which to celebrate the upcoming holidays. It was decided that “A Hometown Holiday” theme would be fitting. Though the tightened COVID-19 restrictions put in place two days before the event at the I.O.O.F. Lodge in Newburg hampered the display, those who wished to view the items were still able to enjoy it thanks to the many people who donated items.
Many of the vintage items donated for the display came from people who have lived in Newburg all of their lives, and others came from people who settled in Newburg decades ago and wanted to be part of the Christmas Past experience. There were a variety of display items including ornaments, wreaths, stockings, decorations of all kinds, angels and several Nativity sets, just to name a few.
Lori Miller Greenawalt shared a set of salt and pepper shakers that had been in her family for more than 70 years. The writing on the outside of the box told of where the gift was purchased and whom it was purchased for: ‘This set of Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus shakers were bought by Patsy Mowery (Miller) at the Wenger’s Newburg Grocery Store. Patsy was just a little girl when she bought them for her mother, Grace Mowery, as a Christmas gift.’
Glass ornaments were very popular throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, and adorned many trees of our parents back then. Sharon Spencer recalled using the glass ornaments on the first Christmas tree she and her husband, Bill, put up in their Shickshinny home in the late 1950s. The ornaments, still in their original boxes, are very pretty, brightly colored and glittery, and in very good condition.
“These are from our very first Christmas tree,” Spencer noted. “They bring back a lot of memories!”
They had been hiding in the Spencer attic until this year. Needless to say, they will become a new addition to the Spencer Family Christmas tree next year.
Marsha Nye Kuhn shared ornaments that were from her Aunt Hazel Nye, making them probably 60-plus years old. They too are brightly colored, some big, some small, and all different shapes. She also shared little cardboard village houses that belonged to her Great Aunt.
“I think Mom got these back in the early 1960s,” Kuhn said.
These houses are small, but very detailed, and were used to decorate under the tree.
Spencer had also donated smaller village houses along with old plastic cars and trucks that she remembers being under her mother’s tree when she was a child. These houses, much like ones you see today (only larger and ceramic) depicted what snow-covered homes and businesses would have looked like in days gone by. The detailing and artwork on these little treasures is something to behold, and definitely something worth holding onto for many Christmases to come!
There were several families who offered their stockings for display. Jayne Kelso’s stocking, as well as her sister’s, were small, dainty stockings made of a lightweight material, with their names written on them.
Because Kelso was one of three little girls in the family, their stockings were very special, much like the girls themselves! Greenawalt shared stockings from her husband’s side of the family that were bigger and made of red and white fuzzy felt, much like kids of the early ‘60s and ‘70s remember.
In addition to all of the treasures offered for display, there were also many others who wanted to share their stories and memories of “A Christmas Past” in person, giving an even better visual of what it was like spending Christmas in the small town.
“When we were young, the Newburg Fire Police would host a Christmas party at the firehouse. I can remember going to the firehouse on Christmas Eve to watch a Disney reel-to-reel movie brought to us by Donald Morningstar,” Ruth Hoover recalled. “After watching the movie, Santa would give each of us a candy bar, a candy cane and an orange. I remember one year, my Dad was Santa (because he was a member of the fire police back then) and being the ‘special’ child that I was, I said, ‘That’s my Daddy,’ and pulled his beard!”
Ed Chamberlin remembers going to the Christmas party hosted by the fire police, as well, and also has fond memories of going Christmas caroling with the church youth group.
Even the younger generations, some having grown up in Newburg in a more recent era, and those who moved to the area, happily shared their memories of Christmases Past.
Ashley Timko’s family roots are planted deep in the Newburg soil. She grew up in Newburg, as did her parents, Jeff and Kristi Kitzmiller, and her grandparents Lester and Edie, and their parents, as well. She was happy to share the memories that she cherishes to this day!
“I loved being able to stay home all day and wait for my grandpa to arrive from his home in Mount Holly. Once he arrived, we would spend the day together, and then in the evening we would walk to my Grandma and Pap’s house for our annual Kitzmiller Christmas.”
Amber Metcalfe is originally from Mechanicsville, Maryland.
She has lived in Newburg for the past five years and was happy to share her past Christmas experiences.
“I remember seeing Santa sitting atop a fire truck and being driven through our neighborhood handing out candy canes. I grew up in a much different setting than Newburg,” she explained. “We were very country with little to no neighbors close by, so it was amazing to me that the fire department took time to drive through the countryside where we lived.”
She loves living in Newburg, and has been busy making memories with her family.
Like Metcalfe and so many others who have come to call Newburg home, our hope is to keep the spirit of Christmases Past alive so that it can be shared with the generations of present and those who follow in the future.
We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!