An introduction to a girl, a hammer for a hammer boy, and no more cats — please.
Those are just a few of the requests Pennsylvania kids made of Santa at the turn of the 20th century, as highlighted by the delightful Twitter account Tweets of Old.
Inspired by those discoveries, The Incline scoured newspaper archives to find more letters to Santa from commonwealth children. We’ve transcribed them here, left the endearing misspellings, and left them unsigned. Here’s what we found.
Full disclosure: The beginning of our search was bleak.
Letters to Santa published in the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1892 showed the desperation of children living with the fallout from the Homestead Steel Works strike against the Carnegie Steel Company.
“Dear Santa Claus-You are a kind man. I hope you won’t forget us. Homestead is in trouble.”
“Dear Santa Claus-We have hard trouble to keep our living. My papa is not working in the mill. Please send my brothers and sisters some clothes. Please remember us. Good-bye Santa Claus; that is all to-day.”
“Dear Santa Claus-You are a kind man. I hoap you won’t forget us. Homestead is a poor place. Dear Santa Cluss bring me some gum boots and then I dont want nothing more this year.”
On a lighter note, here’s a letter from a child the Scranton Tribune called a “considerate urchin” on Dec. 26, 1896:
“Dear Santa Claus bring Roy ____ a Jackie Jumper and a pair of skates and bring some candy and nuts and oranges for little Roy and fill his stocking up to the top and Bring Willie _____ a sley and a pair of skates and fill my stocking up to the top be careful you dont burnt yoreslef coming down the chimney and dont get black and dont burn your wiskers coming down the chimney. ”
Money and monkeys are both reasonable requests. From the Chester Times, Dec. 3, 1903:
“Dear Santa Claus, Please bring me a little dolly and a little coatch and a bed for my dollie, a little monkey. I like little monkeys don’t forget and bring them all.”
“Dear Santa, Please bring me a pair of ice skates and a light sled and a game and a good story book and a boat and don’t forget the tree. This is all I want. Please bring papa a nice desk and a big pocketbook filled with money and that is all I want for Papa.
Kids were very practical in 1904, as this letter in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Dec. 23 shows:
“Dear Santa Claus: Will you please send me a express wagon and harness for my Billy goat, as we have no Santa Claus around where we live in the woods and rocks. I am 10 years old, and want to haul wood with my Billy Goat for my mother.”
Also in 1908. From the Dec. 22 edition of the Greenville Evening Record:
“To Dear Santa Claus in Greenville, Pa.: I want a sled and some now to ride on it. A big dollar, a go-cart, a pair of stocking. And one of these legs full of presents, a glass of water, a toothpick, a match, as I remain your sincere friend.”
But not so much in 1957. From the Oil City Derrick, Dec. 21:
“Dear Santa: I have been a very good boy this year. Every day I wash my face and ears. I always do what my Mommy and Daddy tell me to. I dress myself every morning. I would like a steam-shovel and a frog. I want a big truck and cowboy suit. I would like a doctors kit and a gun and holster. And dear Santa, would please give me a catchers mit? There is a lot more things I want but I can’t them. …
P.S. Would you bring me an alligator to go with my frog?”
You’re never too big for Christmas — or too young for insomnia. From the Monessen Daily Independent, Dec. 24, 1907:
“Dere Sandy Claws: The fellers say I’m too big to write you a letter but I know better cause I’ve been awful good this year. I want you to bring me a Teddy bear that squeaks, a red and green sled, some candy and a grape fruit. Bob wants to write too so that will be all for this time only bring me an alarm clock, I’m awful sleepy mornin’s-sometimes.”
Just in case Santa was wondering exactly how big these kids are. From the Daily News Standard, Dec. 13, 1937:
“Dear Santa Claus: I want a balloon tire scooter, a Mickey Mouse wrist watch, a box of tin soldiers, an airplane, an electric train, an airport to go with the airplane, and a box of candy. I am eight years old. I weigh 53 pounds.”
… and from The Wellsboro Gazette in Dec. 18, 1940:
“Dear Santa Claus-I have always wanted a banjo, just one for a little girl. Do you think I could have one this year, Santa? Or would it be easier for you to get me a small accordian? I will be glad to have anything you want to bring. Thanks, Judy.”
A good deal from the Kittanning Simpsons Daily Leader Times on Dec. 15, 1931:
“Dear Santa, I am a little girl 4 years old, please send me a doll some nuts candy, oranges. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you I want a stove then I can make a pie for you.”
Some love for siblings from the Oil City Derrick in Dec. 21, 1957 …
“Dear Santa: My name is Georgie WeIms and I am (9) nine yrs old. I go to Rouseville School and I am in the fourth grade. Would you please try and bring me a Revlon doll or any other kind that I would like, a sled or sno coaster, a big world globe, molding clay, ping pong set, a new suitcase for my dolly clothes and anything else you might think I like. Please don’t forget my brother John he wants a better report card next period.”
… and the Stroudsburg Daily Record, Dec. 24, 1963:
“Dear Santa: I’ve been a good kid. I want you to bring some clothes for my family and bring my dog a soup bone and a flat collar and bring some toys for my kid brother. Will you make him shorter than he is now so I can boss him around? Billy the Kid P.S. My real name is Linda Jones, but I don’t like my name very well.”
Hmm, was this girl really on the nice list? From the Uniontown Evening Standard, Dec. 24, 1941:
“Dear Santa: I am a girl 13 years old. For Christmas I would like to have a watch, dress, baton. Don’t forget some candy and nuts, and don’t forget my niece … and nephew. Good luck. …
P.S. Don’t get too fat for the chimney.”