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Deck the Halls: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Margaret Clark." A Christmas tree with all the trimmings, and a Buick. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Margaret Clark." A Christmas tree with all the trimmings, and a Buick. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Visiting the Tree

A friend and I were talking today about Christmas memories and he said that his family used to display the gifts under the tree until all the relatives had visited. The whole of the extended family visited each other's homes.

It drove him crazy as a child because you weren't allowed to remove the gifts from under the tree except to play with them. They had to be put back in "display mode" for the duration of what they called "visiting the tree." Since they had a LOT of family coming in from all over Wisconsin over the holiday, it was a long wait for the kids until they could take their toys to their rooms.

He thought it was just his family that did this but many of the trees here have the gifts displayed under them and it makes me wonder if this was some sort of Christmas tradition that I'm not familiar with.

More on the Bizzy Andy Trip Hammer


I see a Snap card game; a wooden puzzle (the lid is in front of the open box - I can make out part of the first part of the name [ ]ahghus or [ ]anghus and the second word looks like it starts with a Z); what appears to be a dresser set for the girl with a mirror, a comb, hairbrush, what and could be a nail file (and perhaps a small tray and "hair catcher"); some books just behind the girl.

The ceiling lamp

I suspect that it is simply to hold the tree straight. Given the fact that most of those old lights weighed a ton, they were pretty well secured to the ceiling. In my experience, you could have wires securing a tree to all four walls and it would still manage to tip over, especially if you have a cat in the house.

They have electric lights on the tree and those heavy tin reflectors.

Schoenhut toys

I'm fairy sure that the elephant, clown and donkey are part of the Schoenhut Humpty Dumpty Circus. Wouldn't you love to see those under your Christmas tree?


Here we have an acceptable Christmas tree. Not one of those scrawny shrubs we've been seeing here lately. I also like the Buick, which this year made the cut and is still with us. Lastly the young lady in the picture, if that, indeed, is Ms Margaret Clark, I would like to see some pictures of her later her in life. She is a stunner.

Mary Pickford curls

The influence of "America's Sweetheart" Mary Pickford, the silent screen star from Toronto, can be seen as Margaret Clark sports the curls that Mary made fashionable in the movies.


Wow! The kid got a Buick! The sister is wondering when the chandelier will catch the tree on fire. And I want that lampshade.

Where to begin?

This is close to the perfect Christmas picture. Except perhaps for devout, any mood -- sentimental, acquisitive, aesthetic, blase, bah humbug -- is reflected here.

Top that

... and two antenna-like tree-toppers and a chandelier jumbled in there too? This tree's got it all!

Bizzy Andy

The ol' "Bizzy Andy Trip Hammer." Now that was a TOY.

Transportation Toys!

"Junior" must be fascinated with "wheels". Besides the Buick racer, we see at least six model cars and carriages, leading past a magnificent fire truck to a wheelbarrow. Even the horsie has wheels. If rolling on the ground gets old, there's the Dan-D Flyer rubber band plane to wind up. And what's the stick-and-balls flywheel thingie with hints of pulleys on the axle? Enquiring minds also linger on the Bizzy Andy Triphammer, although we are unclear on its relationship with the adjoining elephant, clown, and giraffe(?). "Sis" is holding a toy concertina, whose profusion of keys promises a little more musical potential than the 4-key concertina in the previous picture, and I sense artistic potential in the supplies laid out in front of the plane. She's probably gotten interested in horses, as girls seem to do, judging by the horse-themed playset under the tree. If that's a single-note tooting horn sticking up in front, keep it away from Junior. Merry Christmas indeed!

Kitchen utensils and tinsel?

Is that what it looks like? Mom's whisk turned into a tree decoration, with a round ornament slipped inside the wires?

And is that some odd toy pointing to it, with the cone-shaped tip? It looks like a stumpy pool cue. Whatever, I'm sure Consumer Reports would put in on their list of unsafe toys.

The Biggest Light

Is that ceiling light really hanging inside of the Christmas tree!?

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