And Now You Know: Christmas in Orange, 1918 circa

Published 1:27 pm Saturday, December 22, 2018

By Mike Louviere

Centered on the front page of the Orange Daily Leader, December 24, 1918, was the heading; “No paper tomorrow, Merry Christmas.”

“At this season of the year, especially in the year 1918 our minds and hearts are overflowing with the joy and spirit of Christmas. It is with thanksgiving, indeed, that we see this Christmas approach, realizing that peace is again ours throughout the civilized world.

To all the homes of Orange, the Leader extends the wish that Christmas Day 1918 may bring peace and happiness that has never been known before.

In the words of Tiny Tim, ‘God Bless Us, Everyone’.”

There was an article about the New York Camp Services providing Christmas gifts and cheer for the sailors of the U.S. Navy who would be at sea on Christmas Day.

Specifically mentioned was the heavy cruiser USS HOUSTON (CA 30).

The HOUSTON had been at sea for a year and was leaving port to sail to the Philippine Islands. The crew would be at sea on Christmas Day. Special presents had been provided for the crew.

USS ARIZONA as she appeared the day after Christmas in 1918

Aboard the battleship, USS ARIZONA (BB39), were hidden “comfy kits, musical instruments, and other necessities of the season awaiting the ‘dawn of Christmas’. The ARIZONA would also be on the seas Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day, 1941, the ARIZONA would be lying on the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

The HOUSTON would be sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait in the Java Sea in March 1942.

H.J.L. Stark was the chairman of the Christmas Roll Call of the Red Cross. Along with his assistant chairman, W.B. Simmons, he announced that the latest campaign had resulted in a total of 3,142 members.

The Rector and Vestry of St. Paul’s Church invited all in Orange to attend their Christmas Day service on Christmas morning. The service was to start at 10 a.m. and would end at 11:15 a.m.

Julia Russell Campbell took out a small ad in the Leader: “My son Hillary joins me in extending to all our friends and relatives our Christmas greetings. ‘A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and Many Returns’.”

J.E. Hogg, the officer in charge of the Salvation Army of Orange delivered 25 Christmas baskets to those who needed assistance. The baskets contained two loaves of bread, four pounds of beef, one bunch of celery, three pounds of potatoes, one half pound coffee, one pint of pickles, one pound each pork and beans, peanut butter, peas and tomatoes, one package of grits, two pounds of rice, one half pint of condensed milk, ten cents worth of mixed candy, the same amount of nuts, five apples, and five oranges. There were only two ounces of sugar available for each basket due to the shortage of sugar.

Hogg announced that there would be a Christmas tree at the Salvation Army Hall on Front Street at 7:00 p.m. Christmas night.

“Everyone is invited, and we will see to it that no child goes away disappointed for he or she shall have a gift even if it is only an apple.”

Stores in the Orange business district were to stay open until 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and would be open until 10:00 a.m. on Christmas Day.

In the “news about people” section, there was a list of about 20 individuals and families going out of town to visit relatives for the Christmas season.

Possibly one of the happiest families in Orange this Christmas was that of Corporal C.L. Smith recently of Camp Merritt, New Jersey. Corporal Merritt had received his discharge and was home for the holidays with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Smith of West Orange.

Christmas was different in Orange 100 years ago, but the wishes of the Christmas season remain the same today.

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”

“And now you know.”