Christmas from the Archives 1926

Picture Christmas card by wireless and the toys that brought joy into Leeds homes. 24th December 1926

The first Christmas card sent by wireless reached Marconi House, from New York this morning.

Across the corner of the photo-radiogram (which is a wonderfully good reproduction of an actual photograph, and measures eight four-and-a-half inches), appear the words:—


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Copies card hare been made in the actual form in which it was received by wireless.

Some are going by air mail to at least two of the crowned heads of European States and to distinguished people in France.

Others have been addressed to British Cabinet Ministers and members of the House of Lords. They will be delivered tomorrow,

Toys that brought joy into Leeds homes

Many homes in the Newtown district of Leeds have been made happier today by the of a mystery Santa Claus, with the traditional sack full of toys.

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It came about this way. Earlier in the week a telephone bell at the “Yorkshire Evening Post” rang, and a voice at the other end said, “I’ve an idea I would like to feel what it is to be Father Christmas, so I’ve bought about a hundred toys to give away to children who otherwise are not likely to get any. Will you help me?”

We promised to do what we could, made our inquiries, and were able to furnish a number of deserving causes.

Today Father Christmas (new style), with a representative of “The Yorkshire Evening Post,” distributed the toys.

We say “new style” because the reindeer were discarded, and “Santa Claus” had no white whiskers and no red cloak. Instead he was just an ordinary person, such as anyone might meet in the street, wearing a 1926 suit and driving a motor car.

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Sufficiently disguised, you might think, to throw any youngsters off the scent - yet the presence of the car laden with toys was soon known in the neighbourhood.

Those who think there was no magic in Christmas would have been disillusioned by experience today. A woman with a large family had viewed with little joy the approach of the season of goodwill, because the small and fluctuating income did not allow any gifts for the bairns; but a car driving up to door was a matter of moment; and when, peeping through the glass, could seen a stack of dolls, picture books, slates, mandolines and necklaces, surprise turned to excitement.

There was a scramble down the steps, then open arms and a realisation that Christmas had come after all.

There was a similar story to tell at other homes — fathers out of work, in one case just undergoing his third operation in three years, and large families who had no particular occasion for celebrating Christmas. Elsewhere, a widow trying to bring up a family on 18s. week, and doing it very well at that.

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“It’s godsend.” said one parent. “The children wouldn’t have had anything if you hadn’t come. Who is the gentleman that sent them?“

But without breaking a promise this was a question which could not be answered. In the old story, St. Nicholas distributed his gifts surreptitiously, and if that was slightly altered today it was a condition imposed upon us that the donor’s name should not be mentioned.

So the woman left wondering what circumstance had sent sunshine into a back street when it was most badly needed and she whispered “A Merry Christmas” a message that in due time the donor received.

Whether the joy was more with the giver than the receiver is a point we do not care to settle, but at any rate so far as merry laughter is concerned, if volume is to be considered, the homes thronging with surprised children had it every time.