Christmas, 1906 in Wayne – Wayne Public Safety, Bryn Mawr Hospital

In last week’s column we saw in retrospect Wayne of 25 years ago at its Christmas season. This week your columnist would like to give you a Wayne Christmas time of 50 years ago as it was at the turn of the century. But the files of “The Suburban” cover the years back only to 1906, since precious records were destroyed in the fire of that year in the “Suburban” office when it was located where the Buick agency now has its showroom. Then, as now, A. M. Ehart was president of our home town weekly, while C. H. Stewart was secretary and treasurer. So we go back to December of 44 years ago.

It was, according to an editorial placed on the front page, ” a season of good cheer; the season which seems to bring men into closer touch, one with the other. The spirit of peace and of good fellowship is in the air”. In this “prettiest suburb, perhaps in the world”, to quote from a Wayne Estate advertisement of that period, “local stores have taken on a holiday appearance . . . the grocery establishments particularly have been handsomely decorated . . . the assistants at the local railroad station are more than busy these days, preceding the holidays, but keep on smiling as they handle the hundreds of pieces which come to Wayne and St. Davids each day.”

Those of us who think that early Christmas shopping is an innovation of the past few years would be surprised to read in the November 30th edition of “The Suburban” that “by now big stores are almost as crowded as they usually are a few days before Christmas, many people having been struck by the idea that Christmas shopping should be done early.” Motorized delivery service was even then in effect, as there is a small news item to the effect that the automobile delivery wagon of Lit Brothers and Snellenburg’s was stranded in North Wayne and had to be towed back to the city. The volume of Christmas business at the Wayne Post Office broke all records, and “the clerks and four carriers were kept on the jump for four days preceding the holidays . . . carriers kept at it until noon on Christmas Day.” After Christmas “The Suburban” noted: “Some Christmas trees about town were very handsome and there were more than usual.”

In the Wayne churches, some of the Christmas services were held on Christmas Day, which fell on Tuesday in 1906, although most of them took place on the preceding Sunday. At St. Katharine’s the Rev. Joseph F. O’Keefe, assisted by the Rev. Francis Tourscher began Masses at 5 o’clock Christmas morning . . . the choir under the direction of Miss Hobson sang Gounod’s “Convent Mass”. Even then St. Mary’s was holding its Christmas Eve services with the celebration of Holy Communion coming at one minute past midnight. There were also services luring Christmas morning. In the Wayne Presbyterian Church Dr. Patton presided at both the morning and evening services on the Sunday preceding Christmas in a church “beautifully decorated with evergreen and suitable emblems”. On Christmas Eve the King’s Daughters of the church with a number of friends, visited the Cathcart Home in Devon, to give the patients at the home their usual Christmas entertainment. Each patient was presented with a “Sunshine Bag”.

In the Methodist Church the Rev. Samuel Thompson preached on Sunday morning with a special musical program by the choir. In the First Baptist Church the Rev. J. C. Pierce delivered the Christmas sermon. Here, too, was special music. The Rev. David Solly was the minister at the Central Baptist were there was special music by the choir with a violin soloist. At four o’clock there were special children’s exercises, followed by Baptism.

Under the heading of “Getting Shorter” the Safford Store ran a large advertisement on December 14 explaining that what was “shorter” was “the time in which to make your holiday purchases. Just now every one ins studying and racking their brains trying to think of what to buy for Christmas”. Suggestions on the part of the storekeeper included “elegant new shirt-waists . . . in black from a very good quality of lawn at 50 cents, to a fine sateen waist at $1.25 to $2.00 . . . elegant embroidered waists at $1.25, $1.50 and $2.50. There were kid gloves at $1.00–pairs of blankets at $1.00 and $1.25. Among the Christmas gift suggestions at Levine’s were side-combs, knit shawls, fascinators, tams, comfortables, blankets, brooches. While not a Christmas special, the store also had a larger line of “buckle artics and Alaska rubber boots”.

In addition to Safford’s and Levine’s there were a number of stores in 1906 that are no longer in existence. Among them were Duff’s, which specialized in “smokers’ articles”. In the meat and grocery line there were T. T. Worrall and Sons, Hobson’s, L. V. Hale’s, D. D. Mancill and the Columbia Tea House.

Turkeys were selling for 25 and 27 cents per pound, roasting chickens were 18 cents; stewing chickens 16 cents; prime roast beef and spring lamb, both 18 cents; country scrapple, 7 cents. “Strictly fresh eggs” were 35 cents per dozen, better 42 cents, coffee 25 cents, Florida oranges 25 cents per dozen. Whitman’s candies ranged in prices from 25 cents for “a good chocolate mixture” to 80 cents for a “super mixture”. Frank Adelberger advertised as “Headquaters for Xmas Greens”. Etchingham Brothers and Arthur Lanser also sold them.

Among Wayne’s organizations that held meetings that year in December were the Masonic Lodge, which elected Charles H. Howson as Worshipful Master. After the meeting they adjourned to the Saturday Club, where dinner was served by the caterer Gruber. J. W. Cooper acted as toastmaster. The Wayne Public Safety had just changed its meeting times from quaterly to monthly ones. Joseph A. Ball was president, L. H. Watt, vice-president, and Dr. C. D. Smedley, secretary-treasurer. A meeting of the Board of Township Commissioners for December brought out the Messrs. Sayen, Ellis, Geyelin, Hart and Treat. Charles F. Da Costa was solicitor and C. H. Stewart secretary. The Saturday Club was featuring such early January programs as a lecture by Theodore Grayson, of Wayne, on “Famous Women of the French Revolution” and book reviews by Mrs. William B. Riley, also a Wayne resident.

The Bryn Mawr Hospital annual report showed that 463 patients had been admitted during the year, 201 operations performed “of which 196 were successful”. Old Whitehall railroad station had just been leased by the hospital for a three year period, following a case of small pox. Radnor Hunt Club figured weekly in the news, 40 members having ridden in the Christmas Chase.

Bits of local news under “Here and Hereabouts”, a column still in existence forty-four years later, were that the Philadelphia and Western Railroad, although practically completed, could not operate until the new elevated railroad in Philadelphia was built. Seven big automobiles had gone along Lancaster avenue on a recent Sunday to inspect the course for the race to be run between Philadelphia and Harrisburg . . . “no machine to be permitted to exceed 20 m. p. h.” In December there had been three arrests in the Township for violators of automobile ordinances and two for failure to display lights on vehicles . . . coachman Clark, driver for Charles S. Walton, was on a runaway on Conestoga road, and the horse reached North Wayne before he was stopped. “To meet the demands of his increasing business” Richard Quigley was building a larger addition to his blacksmith and wheelwright shop on Plant avenue.

And this, briefly sketched, was Wayne in 1906.

Season’s greetings from this columnist to her readers . . . and many thanks for the almost daily expression of appreciation made to her on the part of these readers fro her attempt to make Radnor Township’s interesting history part of our present-day heritage.