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Merry Dickey Christmas: 1912

Merry Dickey Christmas: 1912

"Dickey Christmas tree." From around 1912 comes our sixth holiday greeting from the family of Washington, D.C., lawyer Raymond Dickey in what has become a Shorpy holiday tradition. National Photo glass negative. View full size.


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The Grotto

I belong to Kallipolis Grotto. It is chartered in D.C. but meets in Maryland.

Naughty or Nice? Hard to know...

If you judged my own father's large family from the grim series of photographs spanning 100 years from about 1880, now in a trunk in my home, you might also think "Chekhov, Addams, and a dash of Dickens" (but truth is closer to Tennessee Williams or Erskine Caldwell), but my memory of those same people grimly photographed in gritty black and white in large gatherings over the years is consistently non-stop storytelling, laughter, and music.

So I don't really think it's fair to assume "family misery" from the series of family photographs we have here, much less blame Pa Dickey's cigars or flask.

I think it's simply that no one had come up with "Smile for the birdy" till somewhere around 1965.

Aside from that, it amazes me how consistent they were in getting trees that were just barely too tall.

My sister and I often enough laugh about our grim photographs wondering where Ma Barker and her boys have buried the bodies, but only because it seems remarkable such a happy and loving bunch could make so many decades of criminally grim photographs.


Someone buy that baby some new shoes!

It's OK

Cut a hole in the ceiling and be done with it.

Christmas Decorations

Amazing how little they have changed. The one to the left of Mr. Dickey's head is identical to ones I have.


That little boy has such huge cheeks. They look swollen, almost like he had the mumps? Or bad adenoids. I do enjoy seeing pics of this family, even though they never look too happy (I realize the exposure times, and people were more serious in pics back then, usually).

[These are all flash pictures, so the exposure time was an eye-blink. -Dave]

Senior Dick

This is now the earliest of the six photos that extends from 1912 to 1923 in a sequence that is decidedly grim. It really is one of the saddest Shorpy experiences I've come across. Over the years, the mother becomes increasingly unhappy and insane, the children look more and more beaten down, and we Shorpy witnesses find solace in the tree and ornaments. I have no proof whatsoever, but I put the blame for this family misery wholly on the father. He with the cigar and the pocket flask has sucked the joy out of his home and stubbed out the merriness of the season in the lives of his wife and children.

[You'd think that after 10 years they (and National Photo) would have gotten the hang of it, but evidently not. Or maybe we are just seeing the outtakes. I look at these people, and the boy on the right, and think of James Thurber. -Dave]

That Tree

Just big enough to be a tad too tall ---- perfect!

They look happy here

Much happier than they do in the later photos. Wonder what happened between 1912 and 1914 to turn things sour.

Pennant race

I believe the pennant reads "Georgetown" and the one on the left reads "Ocean City" (most likely Maryland).

Whatever You Do

Don't confuse the Dickeys with the Denbys.


Interesting display of pennants, and not collegiate ones. One seems to say "Germantown" so I'm guessing localities sold these as souvenirs. Wondering if these were a common thing to collect back then.

[The one on the right bears the name of Kallipolis Grotto No. 15, the lodge of a Masonic fraternal order. - Dave]

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