When reading the “Letters to Santa” we see the innocence of childhood in its purest form. Their undertones can express a range of emotions from sadness to funny stories. Notes sent to Santa are an unlikely lens through which to understand the past, offering a peek into the worries, desires and quirks of the times in which they were written. They serve as a “snapshot in time” representing that moment in a child’s life where hope, faith and the promise of the Christmas season, come together as the crescendo of anticipation.
Today we want to share the unselfish “Letter to Santa” written by Cephus Homer Odom. Cephus was born in the Swift Creek Community of Darlington County in 1919. We know that Cephus was a member at the Swift Creek Baptist Church and was likely a student at the Swift Creek School. At the age of 8 the Darlington News & Press reprinted his letter.
Dear Santa Claus:
I am a little boy eight years old, and going to school and like it fine. Please bring me a drum if you have one to spare and some fruits and candy and anything you have to spare. Hope you have a plenty for all boys and girls.
CEPHAS ODOM (Swift Creek Community)
We know that Cephus went on to serve in WWII and was later employed with the Coca-Cola bottling company for nineteen years. He went on to work for the Darlington County Detention Center and retired in 1979 as Chief Booking Officer.
Cephas Homer Odom at his desk at the Darlington County Detention Center prior to 1979.
Attached in the photos you will find a photograph of Mr. Odam as well as a pedigree chart showing his ancestors. Mr. Odom died in 1994 and was laid to rest in the Swift Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.
His unselfish letter to Santa caused us to look into his life and we found a man who answered the call to serve his country during the world’s time of need. His work history shows him to have been a hardworking provider and his dedicated service to the Detention Center as a citizen who served his community.
A Christmas Story from the French of DeCoppet
Not long ago there lived in the city of Marseilles an old shoemaker, loved and honored by all his neighbors, who called him “Father Martin.” One Christmas eve Father Martin, who had been reading the story of the three wise men who brought their gifts to the infant Jesus, said to himself: “If only tomorrow were the first Christmas day and the Savior were coming to this world tonight how I would serve and adore him! I know very well what I would give him.”
He arose and took from a shelf two little shoes. “Here is what I would give him, my finest work. How pleased his mother would be! But what am I thinking of?” he continued, smiling. “Does the Savior need my poor shop and my shoes?” But that night Father Martin had a dream. He thought that the voice of Jesus himself said to him: “Martin, you have wished to see me. Watch the street tomorrow from morning until evening, for I shall pass your way.” “When he awoke the next morning, Father Martin, convinced that what he had dreamed would surely take place, hastened to put his shop in order, lighted his fire, drank his coffee and then seated himself at the window to watch the passersby.
The first person he saw was a poor street sweeper, who was trying to warm himself, for it was bitter cold. “Poor man” said Martin to himself. “He must be very cold. Suppose I offer him a cup of coffee.”? He tapped on the window and called to the man, who did not have to be urged to accept the steaming coffee.
After watching in vain for an hour Father Martin saw a young woman, miserably clothed, carrying a baby, She was so pale and thin that the heart of the poor cobbler was touched, and he called to her. “You don’t look very well,” he said.
“I am going to the hospital,” replied the woman. “I hope they will take me in with my child. My husband is at sea, I am sick and haven’t a cent,” “Poor thing!” said the old man. “You must eat some bread while you are getting warm. No? Well, take a cup of milk for the little one. Come, warm yourself and let me take the baby. Why! – “You haven’t put his shoes on.”
“He hasn’t any,” sighed the woman. “Wait a minute. I have a pair.” And the old man brought the shoes which he had looked at the evening before and put them on the child’s feet. They fitted perfectly.
Hour after hour went by, and although many people passed the window, the Master did not come. When it grew dark the old man sadly began to prepare his humble supper. “It was a dream,” he murmured. “Well, I did hope. But he has not come.” After
supper he fell asleep in his chair. Suddenly the room seemed full of the people whom he had aided daring the day, and each one asked of him In turn: “Have you not seen me?”
“But who are you?” cried the shoemaker to all these visions. Then the little child pointed to the Bible on the table, and his rosy finger showed the old man this passage: “Whosoever shall receive one of these little ones receiveth me.” “I was hungery and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in. . . . Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.”
From the Darlignton News & Press, December 11, 1919
From the Darlington New & Press, December 11, 1919.
In Darlington County of more than a half-century ago, there was a popular Christmas custom that persisted for a number of years, but eventually died out and may soon be entirely forgotten. It was the practice of the county newspapers to publish “Letters to Santa Claus” written by children of Darlington County.
The Darlington County Historical Commission has an extensive collection of such letters written during the Christmas seasons from 1910 through 1925 and herewith presents a few selected letters for such nostalgic value as they may possess:
Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl seven years old. Please bring me a doll and a little piano and some fruit and candy and nuts. Don’t forget the little motherless and fatherless children.
Lovingly, Edith Hodge, Society Hill.
Dear Santa Claus: I am writing you a letter to ask you to please remember me. I am a little girl six years old and go to school. I want you to please bring me some candles and sparklers, candies and fruits and I will be thankful.
From Ruby Moody, Mont Clare.
Dear Santa Claus: I am a little boy six years old and go to school. Ruby Moody is my cousin. We play together nice. I want you to please bring me some little things such as you think I need, to play with, and I will be thankful.
From Ernest White, Mont Clare.
Dear Santa: I am just a little boy too large for toys, but there are a few things I would like to have. Please bring me a pair of cuff buttons, a collar pin, a football cover, lots of fireworks and some fruit. I would like you to bring Mama a silk petticoat; Papa a pair of gold cuff buttons; little sister a pretty doll; brother Louie a real drum; little brother a train.
Your little friend, Harvie Blackman, Darlington.
Dear Santa Claus: I am a ‘little boy six years old. Please bring me a wagon, some fireworks, fruit and anything else you think would suit a little boy like me. Please remember all little children this Christmas. Your little boy,
Baxter Windham, Lamar.
Dear Santa Claus: If you knew Just what a good little girl I am, you would bring me Just what I ask for. I know times are hard, but Christmas comes only once a year, and children should have what they want. I want a real tea set; a cook stove; a ring, a bracelet; a new doll; fireworks and fruit. This is my first year In school; I have a nice teacher, her name Is Miss McQueen. Please don*t forget the poor Bulgarians.
All my love, Daisy Lee Munn, Syracuse.
Dear Santa Claus: Please bring me a football; a foot-ball sweater; a box of firecrackers; a pair of gloves; a mit; a horn; a baseball and some roman candles.
Your little boy, John H. Bekks, Hartsville.
Dear Santa Claus: I wish you a happy Christmas. I wish you would bring me a doll bed, a doll dress and a doll heart and a book.
Lovingly, Vermeil King, Hartsville.
Dear Santa Claus: Please bring me a bicycle, and a cowboy suit and a Little Lord Fauntleroy book and some candy and fruit and nuts. Don’t forget my sister who is in the hospital, and remember the poor children.
Your little friend, Boardman Edwards, Darlington.
Dear Santa Claus: I want a little bicycle and two little dolls for Ruth and Gladys. I want a ball and bat. I want a pistol and firecrackers, a drum and a drawing book.
Your little friend, Marion Siskron, Darlington.
Dear Santa Claus: I will just ask you to bring me a beautiful doll and a tea set, if you please. And bring me a big doll carriage and a doll set. That is all, dear old Santa. I hope you will find my house.
Your friend, Margaret Lucas, Darlington,
Dear Santa Claus: I want you to bring me a top, an air rifle, some shots to shoot in it, some nuts, some fireworks and some fruit. I will close my letter.
Your friend, Gray Brand, Lydia.
Dear Santa Claus: I am a little boy nine years old. I want you to bring me a ball and some fireworks and a stocking full of fruit
Your friend, Allan Mozingo, Lydia.
P.S. I am going to be a good boy.
Dear Santa: How are you today? Please bring me a trunk, a book, a doll carriage, a. doll cradle, a doll house, some fruit, some raisins and some candy. I hone you a Merry Christmas. I will close my letter.
With love, Lois Campbell, Hartsville.
Dear Santa Claus: Please bring me some candy and fruit some firecrackers and a wheel, a cap pistol and a knife. Please bring my brother Robert some fruit, candy and firecrackers, a cap pistol and a knife. We will be good little boys if you will remember us.
Yours truly, Woodrow Raines & Robert Raines, Lamar.
Dear Santa Claus: While you are travelling through the South this Xmas, I want you to remember me. I am a little five year old girl but I am smart. I wash dishes for mama and daddy, I want you to bring me a nice little dollie that will go to sleep, a carriage for her, some fruit and some firecrackers to scare grandma with.
With love, Doris W. Lane, Lamar.