Jolly Old Santa Claus Comes to Kent
he year was 1920 and Christmas was soon approaching. I was but a wee boy living on a farm in Ravenna, Ohio and the holidays ment sleigh trips to nearby Kent. This sleigh trip was particularly special…rumor had it that Santa Claus was arriving in Kent that very evening. On board the sleigh Dad carried his oil lamp to help us on our way as it was always dark by the time we reached Kent. The sleigh bells rang and everyone sang old-fashioned songs.
As we crested a hill Father pointed out the new Franklin Hotel and I knew we had reached Kent. He pulled the sleigh into the new Kent Comfort station and we kids ran to find a conductor, who informed us that Santa would be arriving at 7 p.m., so we directed our attention towards a 20 foot Christmas tree. Candles in tin dishes danced along the branches. On top was a tin star and from top to bottom were paper chains of colored paper, popcorn balls, and popcorn threaded on strings. Apples and paper dolls were also hung on the green branches.
Suddenly a train whistle tooted and a mighty steam engine rolled around the bend and screeched to a halt. There stood Santa on the back of the caboose, and on the roof sat a tiny man dressed in shades of green. Ho, Ho, Ho’s rolled from Santa’s belly as he announced, “We had a minor disaster at the North Pole, and I have a list of children I must see! I'm on a tight schedule and must get started. Jingles, my Head Elf, will tell you what happened.” Jingles hopped off the caboose and cleared a path with just the wave of a hand and the two of them set up shop next to the magnificent Christmas tree. The children gathered to hear Jingles’ tale. “It was a disaster! A fire in Santa’s Ornament Shop!
That’s where the elves melt glass that they blow into Christmas Ornaments. A spark had jumped from the the fires in one of the furnaces to a stack of boxes waiting to be filled with glass balls. The blaze spread quickly and soon all the elves from Santa’s Toy Shop and the Reindeer Barn joined in to help control the fire. Santa was in his office reading letters from boys and girls all over the world. A huge bag marked U.S. Mail, Portage County was just being opened when Mrs Claus burst in to inform her husband of the situation. Santa sprang to his feet and dashed out the door, followed by all the elves that were unpacking the sacks of letters. That’s where I was…in charge of marking the names and addresses of all the boys and girls that moved to new houses since last year, so Jolly Old Santa Clause will be sure to find them.”
“The North Pole is a big place with hundreds of elves so the fire was soon extinguished, but upon return to Santa’s office we discovered that the door had been left open and the huge sack of letters marked Portage County had blown everywhere. Charred remains littered the fireplace hearth, but most seemed to have blown out the door. We quickly gathered all we could find but knew deep down that some of the children’s letters were lost forever. Looking the situation over, while stroking his long white beard Santa exclaimed, ‘Ho, Ho, Ho, this calls for a train ride to Ohio. I’ve been meaning to take Mrs. Claus on a trip and nothing seems more relaxing than a visit to Kent.”
Just then I heard a Ho, Ho, Ho, followed by my name and I was off to meet the Jolly Old Elf himself. I don’t remember the sleigh ride back home, but at home I discovered a red stocking stuffed with an orange, a candy cane, a popcorn ball, and chestnuts.