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Buck Conner
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Buck Conner

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Age : 79
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Registration date : 2015-10-20

PostSubject: HERE'S AN OLD FASHION CHRISTMAS   HERE'S AN OLD FASHION CHRISTMAS EmptyNovember 22nd 2018, 10:42 am


Colorado's first days of Christmas Explained
 By Joanne Ditmer Denver Post Staff Writer
                   Dec. 19, 2000 - The first Christmas anyone of European
                   descent spent in the Colorado Territory was far from merry.
                   Miserable is more like it.
                   In 1806, explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike and 22 soldiers -
                   tattered, inade quately dressed for the bitter cold in cotton
                   overalls and no stockings - wandered lost and hungry for days.
                   When they first saw the Rocky Mountains on Nov. 15, they
                   cheered because they thought they had found the Mexican
                   Mountains. Twelve days later they struggled through the snow
                   in an attempt to climb what they thought was Grand Peak. We
                   now call it Pikes Peak. Their luck changed on Dec. 24, when
                   they killed four buffalo and had a Christmas feast. Still lost,
                   they wandered around in a foot of snow and temperatures of
                   17 degrees below zero, finally building a stock ade in the San
                   Luis Valley. Spanish troops seized them as intruders in
                   February, and took them to Mexico where they were held until
                   Half a century later, another wave of explorers held a more
                   hospitable celebration. In 1858, after gold was found at the
                   confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River, small
                   clusters of mining settlements were scattered along the rivers
                   that marked the treeless plains.
                   It was a pleasant day, so guests at the various celebrations held
                   at Denver City and Auraria, and at settlements such as The
                   Spooners, enjoyed the holiday's warmth and feasting in relative
                   comfort outdoors.
                   There are several accounts of that first Christmas. Some tell of
                   50 men at dinner, others say perhaps 500 to 700 men were in
                   the area.
                   Turkey wasn't a tradition yet. In this frontier territory, food was
                   what the hunters bagged, and that year it was plentiful. The
                   menus included deer, antelope, venison, rabbit, duck,
                   pheasant, ham, trout, prairie chicken, white swan, squirrel,
                   mountain pig and sheep, quail, buffalo and elk tongue, roast
                   beef, baked and boiled potatoes and beans, rice, beets, fried
                   squash and stewed pumpkin, tapioca, bread and rice puddings;
                   mince, current, apple, rice, peach and mountain cranberry pies;
                   nuts, dried fruit and a wine list that included champagne,
                   sherry, cherry bounce, scotch, bourbon and Jamaica rum. And
                   there was "Uncle Dick" Wootton's infamous Taos Lightning,
                   "guaranteed to kill at 40 yards." The party lasted past midnight,
                   with the men laughing, singing popular songs of the time and
                   dancing around the fire, watched by groups of silent, and
                   undoubtedly perplexed, Indians.
                   In the midst of campfire toasts hoping for prosperity in mining
                   was a fervent plea for "an abundance of the genuine article of
                   genus female during the coming summer."
                   Shortage of women
                   Gen. William Larimer Jr. gave a rousing speech about the
                   profitable prospects of the territory, enthusiastically listing the
                   great opportunities, and wound up with, "And now, with the
                   blessings already enumerated, what more do we want?" To
                   which a voice in back replied, "Woman and the consequent
                   responsibilities!" There were a few families in Denver City and
                   four log cabins at what is 15th and Larimer streets today. The
                   indoor celebration there had a more traditional spirit, although
                   it was a first for the territory.
                   A miner friend brought a lovely spruce tree from the
                   mountains for Count and Countess Henri Murat. The countess
                   decorated this first Christmas tree with the ends of candles she
                   had been saving. She made gingerbread cookie dough, and
                   with a paring knife cut out shapes of boys, girls, animals and
                   stars. She baked and iced them and hung them on the tree.
                   Two families with children came that evening, and the candles
                   were lit (the count on alert with a bucket of water in case the
                   tree caught fire). They sang carols, and Countess Katerina told
                   stories of Germany. The cookies went home with the
                   Denver grew from 4,759 in 1870 to 35,629 by 1889, and
                   133,857 at the turn of the century: Many of the new arrivals
                   were women and children. Later celebrations centered on the
                   children in frontier Denver, and the communal tree was most
                   often found in a church. Programs were held at churches on
                   Christmas Day, with caroling, recitations, tableaux and sermons
                   (preferably short).
                   The day's high point was the stripping of the gift-laden tree.
                   Families and friends exchanged gifts by placing them in the
                   church tree, trimmed with chains of brightly colored paper,
                   strings of popcorn and cranberries. Best of all were red and
                   green net stockings with an apple and an orange for every
                   child, a rare treat indeed on the frontier.
                   By the 1870s, individual homes began to have their own
                   decorated trees.
                   The poor were remembered with special dinners and gifts
                   given by church people or rich individuals. Mrs. Margaret Tobin
                   ( "Unsinkable Molly'') Brown gave warm mittens and other gifts
                   to youngsters in Leadville. Mining magnate Simon Guggen
                   heim provided thousands of Denver's poor children with dinner
                   on the eighth floor of the Brown Palace in 1900. Holiday
                   After church there were buggy or sleigh rides and horse races
                   between owners with especially fast steeds. Bird shooting was a
                   popular Christmas Day pastime, though one 1877 reporter
                   noted, "There are signs that the birds don't enjoy it."
                   The final gorgeous gala was the Christmas evening ball, the
                   most fashionable event of the holiday. The Denver Hook and
                   Ladder Company, from 1866 on, was considered the ultimate
                   in glamorous socializing, with the fire laddies in bright red
                   shirts, the ladies in their most fetching gowns and dancing till
                   the rosy dawn.
                   Copyright 2000 The Denver Post. All rights reserved.

I think I'll stick with what we have today, the old ways are interesting to read about but a lot hardier to deal with.


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