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By December 24, 2021 Read More →

Christmas at Our House Long Ago

Merry Christmas to all! I ran across this charming recollection in the archives and had to share it with all of you. Six year-old Evelyn Balcom moved to Peterborough in 1913 with her mother to lived with her uncle and aunt, William and Mary Farnsworth. They lived above the Farnsworth’s store on Main Street. Here is Evelyn’s account of Christmas Eve in the 1910s. Wishing you the happiest of holidays- Michelle

Peterborough- my childhood home- lives on in my memory when Christmastide is here. More than seventy years ago I lived with my family over the W.S. Farnsworth & Sons Co. general store. It was known as the largest country general store north of Boston.

As a matter of history, the building is located at 9 Main Street, was owned by Sylvester Tenney. It stood across from the Unitarian church. Its

Tenney Farnsworth Store

The store and apartment where Evelyn lived with her mother, aunt, and uncle. The building stood at the corner of Main Street and Summer Street. The site is now occupied by the Centertown building.

porch signs read: Dry Goods, Groceries, Boots and Shoes, Furniture and Hardware. The family lived in the spacious apartment over the store and fronting on Main Street.

Christmas was an exciting time of year. On Thanksgiving evening the entire family of six would become involved in putting up the Christmas decorations that had been stored from previous years. They were the traditional papier-mache rope of green leaves and red bells. This was the exciting and official start of the season when children’s brightly colored toys would replace the overalls and work pants. When I was in junior high school, I looked forward during vacation to being a clerk at one small table- I had good teaching in making change!

At nine o’clock on Christmas Eve, all potential customers became watchers as the carolers with lighted candles proceeded from Concord Street up Main Street to Grove Street and the Town Hall. Jim Naglie, with his popcorn team, had proceeded the carolers to a point where business would  be more brisk. It was home-grown popcorn and freshly-churned butter from his farm- an irresistible treat! His sharing popper barely kept up with the demand for the striped bags with the butter showing through!

Farmers who had hitched their horses to the posts alongside the store, again stopped in to get warm and attend to last-minute needs.

Soon after ten o’clock, when all three doors had been carefully locked, the entire family went up the back stairs to their living quarters. After enjoying coffee and home-made doughnuts, my cousin would disappear. I would anxiously await his return, hoping he would bring me a freshly cut tree from its hiding place- I was never disappointed!! He took time to set it up for me to decorate.

On Christmas Day vanilla ice cream was churned down stairs in the barn. The three store horses, Bess, Dick and Prince, looked on- it was their day of rest too.

Evelyn Balcom Wheeler (1907-1992)

December 4, 1985

Main Street Bridge in Snow

Main Street Bridge from Granite Street circa 1910.