Friday, December 10, 2021

An 1871 Christmas Poem

To My Young Folks in San Luis  

Great Santa Claus his missive thus doth send 

To Pepperman, his tried and trusty friend: 

Go thou into that part of my domain, 

In California’s land of gold and grain, 

San Luis named, his chosen bishopric, 

(And go about it on the double-quick), 

There have you my permission to dispense, 

On due return of dollars and of cents, 

To my young people, fair girls and bright boys, 

Unending store of deft and beauteous Toys; 

Dolls that can lisp out “mamma” and “papa,” 

And could, if needed, finger the guitar; 

Children of wood, who walk like flesh and blood, 

Arks such as Noah used in the Great Flood; 

Carts, Buggies, Phaetons, an endless train 

Such as, once lost, will not be seen again. 

Watches that twice a day, at least, are right, 

Swords, Guns and Pistols, good for boyish fight. 

Tools, Building Bricks, Boxes that hold a town, 

And Jacks, in boxes, that go up and down. 

Kaleidescopes, whose bright an beauteous hues 

Enchant the sense and drive away “the blues.” 

Whips, Tops, Drums, Balls and Bugles for the boys, 

Fit to make music, or to make a noise; 

Horses that go on rockers and on wheels, 

And Lady Dolls with chignon and high heels; 

Cups, Plates and Saucers from far-famed Cathay; 

And Yankee notions from the Break of Day; 

Chromos and Lithographs and Mouldings rare, 

And Looking-Glasses for the infant fair; 

Steamboats and Carriages and Railroad Cars, 

And many kinds of Statuette and Vase; 

Knives, not intended to cut youthful love, 

And animals, from Elephant to Dove; 

Helmets and Cradles, Birdcages and Baskets, 

Card Cases, Necklaces and Jewel Caskets; 

And let the Precious Metals there be seen, 

Mixed with the Diamond’s bright and glittering sheen, 

In endless form of Bracelet and of Ring, 

Of Button, Stud, of Earring and of Pin. 

Let not the Ruby nor the Emerald pale, 

The Jasper, Jet, nor Pearl nor Onyx fail, 

To lend their charms my CHRISTMAS TREE to grace, 

In that far off but still delightful place; 

For there, though cheerful snow forgets to fall, 

And ice responds not to the skaters call, 

Yet mirth and ease live out the live-long day, 

Eternal sunshine cheers the traveler’s way, 

And generous men and matrons join to plan 

With my best friend and subject, Pepperman, 

How best to pleasure every lad and lass, 

And glad the heart of good SAINT NICHOLAS. 

He will be there on Christmas Eve to see, 

The young folks gather round his Happy Christmas Tree. 

-- written by Max Pepperman

This poem was published in Max Pepperman's Christmas advertisements in California's San Luis Obispo Tribune in 1871.

1 comment:

  1. I like that one line, "Swords, Guns, and Pistols, good for boyish fight". Back in those days, that line meant that they were teaching you how to be a man. And games such as Army or Cowboys & Indians showed courage and that you could prove yourself. But it also meant that you were using your imagination while going on epic adventures. Whatever happened to those days anyway? I wish you would tell me, Tom. Nice article, though.


Thank you for your comment.