December News from Christmas Past

In case you are wondering what this time of year was like in the past, I looked through some archival editions of Sturgis Journal.

25 years ago this week, December 1998

Bob Hair, legendary local historian, was writing articles about the past reminding everyone that, Strand Theater initially was Crystal Theater. 

A series on page 1, “Working on Christmas,” profiled those who work to serve the public on the holidays. Sturgis Police Sgt. David Ives was among those featured.

A warning was printed regarding an expected snowstorm. The next day, there was no follow-up, so apparently it didn’t transpire.

50 years ago this week, December 1973

Headlines were all about a snowstorm. According to the Dec. 20 edition, snowfall started the evening of the 19th. Road crews working through the night were able to keep ahead of accumulation.

“The effect of the winter’s first big snowstorm in St. Joseph County and the surrounding area has been more of an inconvenience than anything else, according to reports coming from police and civil authorities.”

That’s probably because shoppers stayed home, much to the dismay of merchants.

In the Dec. 22 edition, Bisel’s and Seger’s placed a large ad to say they would be open from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, “Due To The Extreme Weather Conditions Which Curtailed Your Shopping.”

Most of those ad pages looked like giant Christmas cards to the community from local industries and businesses filled with good cheer – and a warning. “Your Fire Department Wishes You A Merry Holiday Season and a Fireless New Year.”

 Two moms may have had changes to their Christmas plans. The Dec. 26 Journal announced, “Two tiny girls opened their eyes to the world on Tuesday and became the best and most treasured Christmas present for their mothers.” Mrs. Lawrence (Judy) Weidler of Sturgis gave birth to four-pound Shirley Jean Weidler. She was joining her 10-month-old brother Clifford. Mrs. Doyle (Marian) Carpenter of Centreville gave birth to six-pound Maria Dawn Carpenter. “Both babies were born at Sturgis Hospital, brightening the holiday season for the nursing staff.”

100 years ago this week, December 1923

Alle Mac, another legendary local historian, was writing for the Journal. She reported on all the Christmas programs in the city. 

On Dec. 24, Mac described the Christmas party Kirsch Co. held for 700 local residents of limited means. Kirsch had opened the new plant earlier in the year and was sharing. 

“The handsome club rooms were thrown open to them … Santa Claus came down the chimney in the large club room and by a clever arrangement, he could be seen climbing the chimney outside, after alighting from his airplane on the roof garden … Santa had wisely packed the gifts for each family making possible a rapid distribution of the hundreds of bundles that were passed out by him and his assistants … department heads and well-known men of the Kirsch plant.”

As for the weather, it was unseasonably warm and merchants complained that shoppers weren’t in the Christmas spirit, so sales were down. 

One Sturgis Journal writer waxed eloquently about the woes of those who made poor gift choices.

“The young housewife who would have thought of a good warm bathrobe for her husband, changed her mind this year and bought him a smoking stand, so that she could have a chance to bawl him out later when he wanted to use it … Reckless husbands, who knew that a fur coat was on the program for this year’s gift, trusted to luck and the good nature of the weather man in giving the world a mild winter and bought their wives pearls, not realizing that when winter does break, wifey will begin to shiver all over again and contract numerous cold and influenza until the fox hide is on her back.”

200 years ago, but not in Sturgis

“A Visit from St. Nicholas,” commonly called “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” originally was published in Troy Sentinel, Dec. 23, 1823.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

By Rosalie Currier,  printed in the Sturgis Sentential Dec. 22, 2023