For over 30 years light displays were a cornerstone of the holiday celebration at Trinkaus Manor in Oriskany. Starting in 1955 the Trinkaus brothers began their holiday tradition and added new features each year: angels, snowflakes, Santa’s village, elf workshops, a carousel, and more. So lavish were the displays, they could be seen by planes passing overhead.
The Trinkaus Manor restaurant could seat nearly 700 patrons and attracted people from across the country including celebrities and politicians. Tour buses were a regular sight at the Manor to see the elaborate decorations. Tragically, a fire destroyed Trinkaus Manor in April of 1992, but the Christmas lights and displays had been stored in a separate area and survived. [Read more…] about Trinkaus Holiday Lights Were Once A Tradition
Are you getting Blue Coal for Christmas?
You might have asked Santa Claus that question, when he took to the air on WBGF radio 1370 of Glens Falls at 6:30 pm Dec. 6, 1930, sponsored by Merkel & Gelman department store.
But to be certain, you would have wanted a second opinion, because only “The Shadow knows!” [Read more…] about Blue Coal for Christmas: 1930s Glens Falls Radio
Community Christmas trees are an American tradition that bring people together regardless of income, faith, political persuasion, or pretty much anything that divides us. Whether sponsored by a city, town, church, or civic organization, community trees are placed in an outdoor public setting for anyone to enjoy.
It’s a rare treat to share something so nonpartisan: whatever you might personally like about the holidays is what you’ll take away from viewing the tree or sharing in song and merrymaking with fellow citizens. And it’s nice to know that America’s first community Christmas tree, the one that spawned a movement still going strong more than a century later, was an Adirondack balsam. [Read more…] about Community Xmas Trees: Historically Rooted in the Adirondacks
What about jolly, old Saint Nicholas? Who was he and why do we often call him Santa Claus?
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History Peter G. Rose, culinary historian of Dutch foodways in North America and author of Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats (SUNY Press, 2014) joins us to discuss the origins of Santa Claus and edible goodies such as cookies in the United States. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/218 [Read more…] about How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats
The collection of letters to Santa that appeared in this space last week epitomized life in the rural regions of northern New York a century ago. At Christmastime, children from families living a common, low-income existence asked Santa for the simplest of items: a pencil and notepad, candy and nuts, or clothing to keep them warm in the winter. Toys and playthings were often secondary requests if they appeared at all.
But the simple desires from long ago reflected something other than just poverty. A good number of rural folks were self-sufficient, and all family members, even young children, took part in the daily chores of life: working the fields and garden, milking cows, collecting eggs, adding logs to the fire, and so on. An early understanding of the effort behind daily sustenance was evident in children’s annual humble Christmas yearnings for pencils, books, and treats for the tummy, suggesting an appreciation for things in general, and gifts in particular.
Among those who came to the Adirondacks and developed a deep admiration for this rustic lifestyle was Samuel Coplon, who embraced the people, reciprocated their generosity, and in time became a nationally known hero of North Country Christmases, earning him the title Santa Claus of the Adirondacks. [Read more…] about Sam Coplon: Santa Claus of the Adirondacks
One Dutch legend grew up around the Oranje village baker who lived and ran his bakery on Pearl Street. It was this baker, Wouter Albertz vanden Uythoff commonly called Baas (Boss), who first baked the St. Nicholas cookie that so excited the children. Wouter Albertz vanden Uythoff used a cookie cutter to cut the images of St. Nicholas so only he could make the familiar cake.
Baas was Dutch from his big feet to his round bald head. Everything that was Dutch was right and everything else was wrong and that was all there was to it. He prided himself on his work, convinced that he was the best baker to ever live, and he probably wasn’t too far wrong. Everything he made was excellent and very decorative. Everyone wanted his cakes and cookies. [Read more…] about A Baker’s Dozen: An Albany Fable
In 1628, Dutch Dominie Jonas Michaelius organized a religious body called the Collegiate Church in New Amsterdam (New York City). Services were held in a large room over the grain mill.
In the Spring of 1633, Dominie Edwardus Bogardus succeeded Michaelius and built a plain wooden church on the banks of the East River at 33 Pearl Street. In 1642, under Director General Kieft, the Collegiate Church built a new stone church at 4 Bowling Green which was named St. Nicholas Church, which is said to be the oldest Protestant Church in America.
By the mid-1600s, an active open-air market operated daily in good weather all along Oranje’s (later Beverwyck, and eventually Albany) one main intersection where Jonkers (State Street) met Handelaers (Market Street and later Broadway) Street. In the middle of the intersection was the Dutch Church, the center of the village both physically and socially. Several hundred inhabitants, mostly Dutch, were huddled in small dwellings surrounding the church. Fort Orange was located just south of Jonkers and a ferry took people across the Hudson to the eastern section of Rensselaerswyck. [Read more…] about Feast of St. Nicholas: An Albany History
The Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont did not bear much of a resemblance to a Catskills’ hotel of that era, and Dean Jagger’s General Tom Waverly was definitely not much like a Sullivan County hotel owner, but the movie “White Christmas” has a strong local flavor nonetheless. [Read more…] about Sullivan County’s ‘White Christmas’ Connection