Friday, December 21, 2012

Miles City Christmas 1884

Miles City, Montana, looked forward to the holidays in 1884. On Christmas Eve, the Daily Yellowstone Journal instructed its readers to “Get the hinges of your jaws ready to warble “Merry Christmas” to friends and neighbors. And be sure,” said the Journal, “to clear your chimneys for the descent of Kris Kringle.” But not entirely in the Christmas spirit, the Journal recorded the final percentile grades of public school students, certainly embarrassing several like George Busch of the senior class who earned a 40, Kate Cupples who earned a 56, and others. Now that’s a gift for a parent—to have your child’s ill achievement published in the newspaper, and on Christmas Eve.

From Chronicling America, Library of Congress
On a more festive note, the Journal advertised the perfect Christmas present: The Missouri Steam Washer. No home, said the Journal, is complete without it. Patented in 1883, the advertisement claimed that the contraption was so simple to use that a ten-year-old could do the family wash in an hour. Wouldn’t the kids love that present! Or you could buy a buffalo coat for $15, or pantaloons for $1.50. And the Journal had some advice on sizing up the roasted Christmas turkey: “Don’t look in its mouth as if it were an old horse with a tooth ache,” said the Journal. “Just gently dislocate its wings. If it’s old and tough, you’ll have to tug pretty hard on the flappers.” When it comes to dessert, said the Journal, there will be no poison in your pastry if you use Dr. Price’s pure extract of vanilla. So shake the snow out of the Christmas tree and unhinge your jaws for Christmas dinner.

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