by Forest Harvey
During the Great Depression in 1929, America suffered some of the hardest times in history. Families had to endure and make do in all ways of life. Sacrifice was at an all time high. Christmas time was many times the occasion for people to forget the hard times and show love for their family.
The R.B. Abston family lived in Highway, Kentucky. There were ten children with my Mother Mary being the second. She was born in 1909 and well remembered this story and told it to me many times.
Christmas was coming and there was no money for gifts.
My grandma Fannie saved eggs and took them to Willingham General Store (in Highway). There she traded them for a twelve inch by two inch peppermint stick of candy. She cut it into ten pieces and along with goober-peas that she had grown in her garden, she made ready. The stockings that “were hung by the chimney with care” Christmas Eve would have something in them. Grandpa joined the children and hung up his stocking. Christmas morning they all had something in their stocking. Grandpa found a lump of coal in his stocking. My mother, being tender hearted, gave him her piece of candy. Could that be one of the reasons that her nickname, given to her by Grandpa and used all of his life, was Major. He was a Spanish American War Veteran.
After my mother and father married they lived in Columbia for quite a few years. They had survived the depression and were starting out diong the best they could. My father was pastor of Sparksville Church of the Nazarene and Mother taught the Rocky Hill School. Mother told me this story.
When I was around seventeen months of age they took me to the Christmas parade in Columbia. Santa Claus was part of the parade and in his sleigh was a red child’s rocking chair that I fell in love with. Either that chair or one like it was under our Christmas tree that year. I still have it today, seventy seven years later. When I was young I rocked in it by the hour but I have not rocked in it for a long time.
In 1943, WWII found the Fred Harvey Family at Old Steam in Greenup County, Kentucky. The place got its name from an old steam engine that pulled a sawmill there for many years in the 20s and 30s.
These were hard times and Christmas time was a-coming. My Christmas list included a violin and my sister asked for a ukulele. On Christmas morning they both were under our cedar Christmas tree. The violin came from a pawn shop in Ashland and the ukulele was bought from Sears and Roebuck. We had music that year even though it was off key and out of tune. My mother played a violin (she won a Fiddling Bee over Delmer Beard playing “Golden Slippers” in the late twenties). The ukulele came with an instruction book. We played long and loud for a long time but neither of us ever got it right.
In 1970, the Forest Harvey Family could be found living in McEwen, Tennessee where I was pastor of the Pine Hill Church of the Nazarene.
It had been a good year and a bad year. My church was doing great with a new attendance record of 284. But I had been sick and in and out of the hospital. Christmas was coming and the boys had made their lists. My wife took it over and told me “There is no way we can do this.” I saw an advertisement in the paper by a farmer who wanted someone to paint his house. I drove ten miles to see him and took the job. He let me work on my days off (Monday) for the four weeks in October. The weather was nice for painting. He was happy and we had a very merry Christmas.
I know some of you that are reading this could tell like stories. Every year Santa Claus needs helpers.
Merry Christmas to All!