Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Daddy Reeves

A. I. “Daddy” Reeves came to Helena in 1892 and became a Christmas institution. The Reeves Music House brought many fine musicians and musical events to Helena. Reeves liked to tell the story about how he got his name. His parents weren’t much on naming their large brood of children, and when he went to school, the only name he had was Baby. The teacher suggested he needed a name, so he came up with initials he chose from the alphabet the teacher had hung on the wall. The A and I don’t stand for anything. In 1928, Reeves’s business and a huge collection of sheet music went up in smoke when lightning struck a rooftop and burned nearly an entire city block. Reeves did not lament. He started again and ran his shop until he retired in about 1945 and moved to the Masonic home in the Helena Valley. Reeves, known to hundreds of kids as Daddy, taught music lessons to hundreds of Helena youths. He organized Helena’s newsboys and the kids at Intermountain Children’s Home and St. Joseph’s Orphanage into choirs and harmonica bands.

Daddy Reeves stands at left with the Montana Deaconess School harmonica choir in 1929.
Photo courtesy Intermountain. L.H. Jorud, photographer
Most children did not suspect that for more than fifty years Daddy Reeves was the official Elks Lodge Santa Claus. He never duplicated his grand entrances. He arrived by steam automobile or horse-drawn sleigh and once hid for hours in a fireplace at the Montana Club before bursting out. In 1944, when Reeves played Santa for the fiftieth time at age eighty-two, the Helena Independent wished him the same amount of happiness to carry him over the trail of love, kindness, and joy he blazed for Helena boys and girls.

P.S. Christmas seems to inspire good works, even from the Anaconda Company.

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