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Three Village Holiday Traditions: Part II

Updated: Dec 24, 2021

Items from the society's collections

Flying in without the reindeer:

What better way for Santa to arrive in Stony Brook in the modern age but by helicopter. In this 1948 photograph Santa arrives in a Bell 47 helicopter to the delight of all the children.

The holiday with Miss Kate Strong

Santa Claus and Miss Kate Strong (in rocking chair at right), known for her tales of long ago, host a Christmas Eve Party for children at the Setauket Neighborhood House in 1946. Each child was given a small bag of candy and an orange.

A "True Tale" by Miss Kate

Postcards. TVHS collection

A Letter to Santa

Ward Melville's letters to Santa and Christmas lists:

John Ward Melville, born January 5,1887, was the son of Frank and Jennie Melville. Among the many papers, photographs and ephemera from multiple generations of the Melville family are many Christmas lists kept by Ward from childhood to adulthood-items given and received-including this note to Santa in 1892.

On the reverse “It is very hard for my little Boy to write so I have helped him with the letter Papa Melville”

A few years later:

A small notebook, late 1890s, kept by Ward contains lists of gifts to family and friends with a warning inside “Please do not open this book any further Xmas secrets”

List of books wanted for Christmas

Ward Melville married Dorothy Bigelow in 1918. Ward continued to keep Christmas lists and the collection contains lists of gifts he received and who gave them from 1923 into the 1950s. Some lists also include his birthday presents. Here are a few examples.

From the Three Village Historical Society we wish you a happy and safe holiday season and look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Additional resources:

From St. Nicholas to the modern Santa Claus

Old and new Christmas traditions:

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