The Insider

News from Wayne County

Christmas in Wayne County

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With the recent round of snow and all the Christmas lights strategically blinking everywhere you go, it is starting to look a lot like Christmas in Wayne County. Insider

WAYNE COUNTY – With the recent round of snow and all the Christmas lights strategically blinking everywhere you go, it is starting to look a lot like Christmas in Wayne County. So much so that some are starting to speculate that Santa may have had his shop set up in Bicknell across from Howie’s all along. Who knew a person could ever own so many Christmas lights, much less have a place large enough to store them all. Lucky for them, Lee has a hundred steel storage units set up a block away.

A real Christmastime favorite in Torrey is Mikey’s one hundred foot tree of lights; Santa shouldn’t have any problem at all locating the landing strip in front of the Clarks. Surely, Sheri wants to make sure all her grandkids know that grandma is watching out for them. It would be a good guess that there is going to be plenty of bakery goods waiting for Santa on Christmas morning in that house. (And come January 1, Mike will be hoofing it around the back streets of Torrey to work them off.) 

Back in the day, it was somebody’s designated job in Loa to go up on the mountain, to the Fish Lake turn off, and close and lock the imaginary gate to traffic coming to Wayne County, just as quickly as their kids were done trick-or-treating on Halloween night.  Either that mighty person took to the sauce and lost their driver’s license, or they moved away—or something similar took place—because folks from everywhere keep sneaking into Wayne County at a rate not seen since the invention of the automobile, even despite the short days and cold nights. The locals are left scratching their heads and confused. The deer can’t seem to find a safe place to cross the highway, and the reclusives that live among us, and live for this slower pace of life this time of year, are actually searching the want ads for places to live in Burrville or Greenwich.  Even the faces at Royal’s Foodtown in Loa—a place where blocking the cereal aisle for ten minutes discussing dinner recipes with one of the DUP ladies was not all that uncommon—are not as familiar as they once were. Now, it’s like all the good conversations have moved to the quilting corner or the parking lot. 

Pioneer Christmas stories seem to always find their way out of the annals of time and into the light at Christmas time. A recent favorite is a story written in Irma Hatch’s Life Sketch (Dee Hatch’s mother,) a piece of history that surprisingly found its way to my door and touched me in a very special place at a time when I needed it the most. It goes like this: 

“We lived on a farm in Aldridge. The house I was born in was a log cabin, built of hued logs. The roof was made of poles and straw and dirt (clay). I believe it had a board floor in it but when father first built it, he used the ground for a floor. Father homesteaded the land, 160 acres, the idea at that time was to build a cabin so he could live there and hold the ground according to law. Our furniture was mostly homemade. Our cook stove was a small Charter Oak stove. Our fireplace was nice and large. It lit up the room and helped to heat it also. Instead of a basket to sleep in, I was rocked in a homemade wooden cradle with rockers on it. Mother would put her foot on the rocker and rock the cradle while she knit or crocheted, or carded wool. Father made the cradle. We just had one homemade door. It was on the west side and had one window. The walls were chinked and adobe and whitewashed. The cabin was comfortable and warm. We carried water from the Fremont River for culinary purposes. We used coil oil lamps for lights, and wood for heat and to cook with. Father would go to the mountains and get cedar and pine for winter. We never had any coal to burn. If it was cold weather, father would wrap his feet with burlap sacks to keep them warm. 

Well, one Christmas Rachel, Ruby, Eva, and I got the same kind of presents… we each got some candy, nuts, popcorn balls, homemade candy, and big rag doll. Ruby & Rachel’s dolls had red dresses trimmed in blue. Eva and I got dolls that had blue calico dresses trimmed in red, and that was it. We were sure happy to think Santa had come to see us. I never owned many dolls in my life, but I well remember one Aunt Catherine Sorensen sent me. It had a China head and was about ten inches tall. I named her Polly Perkins, father used to sing a song about Little Polly Perkins from Evanston Green, so I named my doll Polly. It seemed like I had had her all my life. One night I left her outside in the chimney corner in my playhouse. When I went out the next day, I found her with her pretty China bonnet and face all broken. Oh boy! Did I cry! I was really broken hearted to find Polly Perkins killed, my most treasured possession. Mother and all the family tried to comfort me, but I couldn’t forget it. We had such few nice things. Then the next doll I got was the big rag doll, but it couldn’t take Polly’s place.”

As with any good Christmas story, it doesn’t end there.

After Aldridge was abandoned in the early 1900s due to flooding, and many years later, the china face of little Polly was found and returned to the Hatch family. Like history itself, it has been saved as a piece of personal history past and a story that continues to be shared around a cozy fire and Christmas tree every Christmas.