Left: Cover of the 1910 Sears Christmas Catalog. This would have been in nearly every home in Orlando.
Right: Sheep, in recent times, on the Kilmarnock Farm up Clover Fork.
by David Parmer
Snow had usually blanketed the ground in Orlando by Thanksgiving, if not before. The Artic chill swept out of the north and settled throughout West Virginia creating a crust of ice on the old snow, and on each new layer of snow which fell. "Winters were much more severe then than they are today," said Ethel Doyle of Three Lick, "snow came early and it was bitter cold all winter long." Families in Orlando "usually got their coal in well before Thanksgiving," said Helen Jeffries. "People would take their pickup trucks to Gilmer and load up with coal at the tipple, or Darnall would deliver it." There was a striking difference between present day Christmas weather and the weather during the time of our grandparents in the early and mid 1900’s. The weather seems to come foremost to the minds of our older citizens when asked about Christmas of yesteryear in Orlando. .
Left; Forrest Allman, son of Orlando's telegrapher Gaver Allman, about 1837. For more about the Allmans see the Oct '07 entry Gaver Hamilton Allman: Telegrapher and Freight Agent
Ethel Doyle remembers one cold, snowy winter on Three Lick around 1930 when she was about fourteen that she and her sister Virginia, and Pid Henline’s children, Jessie, Ruth, Denver, Ernest and Ed, got out their farm sled, loaded it with hay, hitched up the horse and took a sled tour of Tulley Ridge. "It was a lot of fun," recalls Ethel. "There weren’t any paved roads, and you didn’t go anywhere in the winter time and winters lasted a long time. You stayed at Orlando."Dale Barnett also remembers that Charley Knight would help bring a little noise to the Christmas holiday cheer in Orlando by stocking up on firecrackers and Roman candles in his store which were always a favorite of Orlando youth. Dale recalls that Charley Knight enjoyed Christmas time, in a true merchant’s way, by having displays of toys and other Christmas goodies, such as hard tack candy, nuts, and oranges, in his store.
Left: Stock photo from the internet of a Roman candle display.
Right: On Christmas day in 1938, 10 year old Jane Stutler wrote this Christmas message in the autograph book of her sister Mary Stutler: "Orlando, W. Va. Dear Mary,The snow has been falling for Christmas. The hills are white. The house top and trees are white. School is out for one weekand I am glad of it. We had a program at school & Sando Clase & his wife was at school Fri. Your sis Jane Stutler". Double click on the picture th enlarge it. Also, see more about this in the Apr '06 entry Oil Creek Christmas 1938.
Dale Barnett remembers during his days at the Orlando School that Stewart Blake and his sons would come in and play music for the school. "That was an extra special treat", remembered Dale. Dale also remembers the Christmas plays which were given each year, followed by a party, and a visit by Santa Claus who would pass out packages of candy to all the school kids. Mildred (Morrison) McNemar also remembers the visits by Santa and the welcome gifts of candy.
Rosemary (Riffle) Crutchfield of Burnsville went to the lower Clover Fork School which was beside the Clover Fork Methodist Church. Rosie particularly remembers her favorite teacher, Virginia McCoy Skinner, who arranged the Christmas programs. "Each student would have a memorized recitation to give." When Santa came, he would give each student an apple, or orange or candy bar or a pencil. "It wasn’t much but it meant so much to us."
Right: two other grandchildren who came "home" with their folks for Christmas. The children of Oras and Edith (Skinner) Stutler migrated to Detroit in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Donna (Witzgall) Gloff and Joe Burgett were two of the nine grandkids Santa visited in the parlor of the former Dolan Hotel in 1951. The Sep '06 entry Joe's Song is about the little boy in the picture.
Mildred (Morrison) McNemar remembers during one Christmas season that John Brown, the Orlando principal, allowed Irene and Jane Conley to bring Christmas records to school to play on the school’s old record player. Students were allowed to stay after school to listen to the music. Mildred said that it was very nice because not many people had the opportunity to listen to phonograph music.
As children of Orlando families moved away to Ohio or other places for work, Christmas was always a great time to go back to Orlando to celebrate the holidays with the aging parents. Cars with out of state licenses could be seen up and down Oil Creek, Clover Fork, Three Lick and all of the other small hollows around Orlando. It was a welcomed visit, and a happy one, and is the source of many memories of the Christmases in Orlando.