Carroll's Christmas celebrations tempered by news of war, Great Depression [Eagle Archive]

Many years ago, most of the newspaper accounts about Christmas in Carroll County were not published until after Christmas. Most of the advertisements for Christmas did not appear until well after the first day of December. Christmas was celebrated for a short period of time then folks quickly went back to the business of the day.

In 1941, for example, after the attack on Pearl Harbor earlier in the month, Civil Defense was on the minds of many in the community. Right after Christmas "the local press carried a mix of holiday stories about community events next to wartime articles," according to research by Jay Graybeal for the Historical Society of Carroll County. Among the articles was "a nearly full-page announcement entitled, 'What to Do in an Air Raid' from W. Warfield Babylon, Air Raid Warden for Carroll County."


The announcement advised readers to "Keep Kool: Above all, keep cool. Don't lose your head. Do not crowd the streets, avoid chaos, prevent disorder and havoc. You can fool the enemy. It is easy. If planes come over, stay where you are. Don't phone unnecessarily. The chance you will be hit is small. It is part of the risk we must take to win this war."

How's that for Christmas cheer?

Christmas in Westminster almost did not take place in 1930. According to an article by Tom Doerr, "The Christmas Treat," in a newsprint publication from the city of Westminster and the Downtown Development Committee, "The harsh drought of 1930, combined with the stock market crash and the early stages of the depression, caused Mayor George Matthews to cancel the treat that year.

"The four hundred dollars set aside for candy, fruit, and toys was donated to the Children's Aid Society 'to be used exclusively for providing fuel, food, and clothing for the families of the unemployed who may be in need,' according to the [city] record[s]…"

On Dec. 30, 1899, the former Westminster newspaper, the American Sentinel, reported that in Manchester, "The joyous Christmas season found this community with much to be thankful for… Our cigar factories, the chief source of income, have been working on full time and for several months even at night and the employees have been earning good money… The factories disburse five or six thousand dollars a month in weekly and bi-monthly payments, which goes into circulation, and our business men are smiling over their holiday trade…"

A lengthy article in the Dec. 26, 1896, edition of the Democratic Advocate reported, "On Monday the new depot of the Western Maryland Railroad at this place, was thrown open for business… There is not a finer station in the State."

A big deal was made over the station's indoor bathrooms.

"Toilet rooms for ladies and gentlemen open from each of the waiting rooms… and the mirror in the ladies' department is already in active operation."

And finally, the same newspaper on Dec. 26, 1896 carried the following admonishment, "Boys and youths should remember that the pavements in front of the churches and the vestibules of the same should not be used as loafing places on Sundays or Sunday nights.

"Either go in or go away. Interruption to the exercises will make offenders liable to arrest and punishment. Last Sunday evening there were crowds in front of both the Methodist Churches, and their conduct was disturbing to the worshipers."

When not spending time in church on Sundays, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at