Do not send anymore cats, we have enough cats
December 8, 2014 3:30 PM   Subscribe

The popular and venerable Twitter account Tweets Of Old continues its seasonal tradition of posting late 19th century /early 20th century children's letters to Santa.
posted by The Whelk (59 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dear Santa: Please bring me two live Pigeons, a little red axe, and a thermometer. Your friend, John TX1905
Oh God, that cannot have ended well.
posted by maryr at 3:41 PM on December 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: Please bring me one of them Marsh poneys. Nothing would please me better. I want one so bad I do not no what to do.
posted by BrashTech at 3:44 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dear Santa, Please bring me a bicycle, books, fiddle, and a meat saw. -William NC1912

"No! You'll shoot your eye out cut your hand off!
posted by Brodiggitty at 3:52 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: I'm not going to ask for so many things for I'm not as greedy as other boys. Just bring me a real big gun. Henry SC1910
posted by Hypatia at 3:53 PM on December 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


I like how children totally haven't changed in the past century. Anyone who's familiar with small children will recognize the random insults towards other children, absent-minded inquiries about whether Santa has died in the interim, and even the frequent demand for ponies seem about the same.

On the other hand, there's this kid, who has to be angling for something. Right? Right?

Dear Santa: Please remember the little orphans, the poor prisoners in jail, the aged people and the colored people. Paul DC1907
posted by sciatrix at 3:59 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Dear Santa, I am a boy 11 years old. I have picked cotton hard this fall. I would like a stocking full of nice things to eat. Tommie GA1912


Boy, first one in and I'm cry-drinking already.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:00 PM on December 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


Are these real? Because, and maybe I'm wrong, but Mildred, 1902, suggests that she could have talked to her cousin across the ocean on a telephone. Surely not in 1902. No?
posted by uncleozzy at 4:05 PM on December 8, 2014


I've always assumed these are made up. But in a creative clever way, not in an angling for clicks way.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:09 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I will feel much better if these are manufactured because otherwise I'm with TheWhiteSkull and reaching for the scotch three tweets in.
posted by offalark at 4:19 PM on December 8, 2014


I don't want much but what I want I want badly. So act accordingly.


OK, now I feel better.



I'm also somewhat confused by Donald, who is a little girl and wants an orangutang. I'm reconciling this by imagining a little trans girl whose parents still insist on calling her Donald. Her orangutang is named Mr. Tiberius Heffernan, and he wears a bowler hat.


Also, remember the heathens in Korea.

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


I feel there are a lot of references here I'm missing. I got Walter (even without the surname) and David, though.
posted by Leon at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2014


International calling started around 1915 if the Wikipedias are to be believed, so.. maybe she was calling a telegraph company or something? Trans-atlantic telegraphy would have been about 50 years old by then, which seems to fit in with the request for a wireless telegraph kit.
posted by mrg at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I'd like a woman that washes a bear."

What is that, like, car wash girls for the 1800s? That's just great. Another fetish I never knew I even had.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:20 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'd like to think that Tommie, GA, 1912, turned out okay, and that he ended his days as a grandfather in the '60s, scolding his grandkids for having so much under the tree at Christmas.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:26 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Dear Santa: Please bring me a horse, some wood, and a hammer and nails. Papa expects I will be a carpenter. Your girl, Rhoda VA1900

I like to imagine that Rhoda ended up doing OK.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:29 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dear Santa-Please bring me anything. Don't forget pap a box of tobacco for I am tired running to the store every evening. Eugene, 8. FL1899

This poor child was 40 at heart already.
posted by yasaman at 4:37 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Since there are images of letters in some of the tweets, I think these are real.
This boy did NOT turn out well:
Santa: I am the worst boy you have ever seen in your born days. But if you give me a pocket knife I will try to do better. Donald VA1900
posted by mfu at 4:40 PM on December 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


don't give him a pocket knife
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:05 PM on December 8, 2014 [10 favorites]




No, these are too perfect to be true. In the first ten I basically wanted to immediately come in here and quote 8 of them.
posted by 256 at 5:21 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Note: I am not actually suggesting they are fake, I am just shocked at their perfection.
posted by 256 at 5:22 PM on December 8, 2014


Based on the photos and the tone/vocabulary I think they real ( in so much that anything sent or written in a Newspaper reported to be written by a Child can be said to be real) but heavily edited. There's just too much Bonkers Kid Logic in them to come from nowhere.
posted by The Whelk at 5:33 PM on December 8, 2014


Could they be real letters from adults at the time in the sense of haha cotton pickers want literally anything nice to eat?

That's worse, isn't it.
posted by odinsdream at 5:46 PM on December 8, 2014




Dear Santa, I am a little boy 6½ feet high. Please bring me some fruit candy and a wagon to pull. Your little boy, G. E. Edwards. MS1921
A) WTF

B) Hey, I had family in Mississippi around that time. I wonder if they knew this 6 1/2 foot tall little boy who just wanted a wagon and some candy.
posted by Sara C. at 5:52 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


The best thing about these is that I can totally hear each child's particular voice. Especially the South Carolinian "perfect tomboy".
posted by Sara C. at 5:54 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just keep imagining them in vivid detail using the Family's Pencil.
posted by The Whelk at 5:57 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is the woman who washes a bear one supposed to be a list, by any chance?
posted by maryr at 6:04 PM on December 8, 2014






You'd think kids in Pensacola would ask for a kind of fruit that doesn't grow in their own backyard, but OK.
posted by Sara C. at 6:23 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dear Santa- I have been very good this year, despite what the nuns have said. Please bring me some spaces for my name, on account of I never had them when I was a little skull, and now I miss them quite sore. Also please bring my brother a plane ticket back from San Francisco, he is the best fellow. And please remember all the poor folks in Virginia who were stabbed by Donald, and the heathens in Korea. Your friend, TheWhiteSkull ON 2014.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:24 PM on December 8, 2014 [18 favorites]


Note: I am not actually suggesting they are fake, I am just shocked at their perfection.

I understand that concern very well, but these were likely chosen from a large assortment, either by the feed or whatever secondary source they're drawing from. The larger the assortment they're picked from, the most perfect in tone they may seem.
posted by JHarris at 6:30 PM on December 8, 2014


Aww, I was hoping there really was one about not sending any more cats.
posted by orme at 6:39 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


There were a few about not sending any more cats. They involved asking for a big gun and knives.
posted by 724A at 6:42 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Dear Mr. Santa Claus, I want a checker board and a rifle. Please dont bring any more cats, we have plenty of cats. Goodby, Henry PA1903

Oh, Henry!
posted by 724A at 6:45 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


dear santy kloss. If you don't come to my haus befour you come to willie Dorgin's I'll never speak to you in my life. -Gert NY1907

These are all priceless.
posted by 724A at 6:48 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dear Virginia,

Watch out for Donald.


-Santa Claus.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:43 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dear Mr. Santa Claus, I want a checker board and a rifle. Please dont bring any more cats, we have plenty of cats. Goodby, Henry PA1903
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dear Santa: If you please, Santa, a good substantial Pistol, Turkey bones, etc. Walter VA1904
No matter how hard I try I have no idea what makes sense as the etc. in "a substantial gun, turkey bones, etc."
posted by scalefree at 8:59 PM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dear Santa: Please bring me a horse not a live horse but a horse that is not alive. This is all I will ask for. Chambers Denison PA1904

Dear Santa: Please bring me some candy. Don't forget the little boys in France for the Germans has killed their Santa Clause. -John NM1918

Dear Santa: Please bring me a dump truck, chewing gum, a watch that runs. Grandpa is dead. Grandma needs a new glass eye. Fred MO1930


posted by The Whelk at 9:00 PM on December 8, 2014


Oh God, I cannot stop reading these out loud. "Dear Mr. Santa: Please send one Goat and Buck Board. I don't want much but what I want I want badly. So act accordingly. -Peyton VA1895"

I'm going to start adding "I don't want much, but what I want I want badly" to all my requests from now on.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:07 PM on December 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


Dear Santa: Please bring me a horse not a live horse but a horse that is not alive. This is all I will ask for. Chambers Denison PA1904

I know this is probably just a little kid way of referring to a rocking horse or something, but what if it isn't? Why would Chambers Denison of Pennsylvania want a horse corpse? What, exactly, did he plan on doing with a dead horse or, possibly slightly more charitably, a taxidermied horse? I have so many questions.
posted by yasaman at 9:07 PM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Why would Chambers Denison of Pennsylvania want a horse corpse? What, exactly, did he plan on doing with a dead horse or, possibly slightly more charitably, a taxidermied horse?

All I know is he can't beat a dead horse.
posted by 724A at 9:13 PM on December 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Dear Santa: I want nuts, just all kinds of nuts. Give me a cap gun and just more caps. I expect just candy and more candy. -Dean OK1925

I EXPECT JUST CANDY AND MORE CANDYYYYYYYY AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH

Something tells me the last thing that kid needs is more candy!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:38 PM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm going to start adding "I don't want much, but what I want I want badly" to all my requests from now on.

The "So act accordingly." is really crucial there too though.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:43 PM on December 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


True. It does add that slight note of menace....
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:56 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


So there was a Gilbert Nabers from South Carolina, who would have been 16 in 1921. Ho hum. A literate fellow, it seems.
posted by Leon at 2:44 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dear Santa: Please bring me an ice wagon and I want a doll but mama wont let me have it for I am a boy. bring me a ring. Cecil VA1902

My wife feels for young Cecil; she has a story about how her father had a dolly in his youth, which was a source of anxiety for him -- at one point his sister took it to the park and forgot it there, forcing him to walk through town with his dolly to retrieve it, overlapping care for his dolly with the criticism of Milwaukeean strict gender roles in the 1950s. Her father still has his dolly; I hope Cecil got his one day.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:23 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


God these are the greatest thing.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:58 AM on December 9, 2014


When you work back to November's tweets they start to be clearly manufactured.
"The Marriage of the Pope" won 1st prize in the 'most sensational headlines' contest. "A Negro Elected President" took 2nd. KY1913
posted by scalefree at 7:34 AM on December 9, 2014


I've been subscribed to Tweets of Old for a few years, and always assume they are true, because believing that is more rewarding. Also, because "them being true" seems like it'd be a lot easier for the people who are either curating & posting, rather than having to make them up.

I belong to an improv group, and for the past couple of years, every show we do a Tweets of Old segment - we get a random number (or numbers) from the audience and scroll down the Tweets of Old feed that number of posts and read that Tweet out loud. Then we improvise around it. It is almost always a terrific outcome.
posted by annekenstein at 7:50 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


scalefree: When you work back to November's tweets they start to be clearly manufactured.

It looks like Tweets of Old doesn't quote, they condense to Twitter-size -- here's the article in question, the Crittenden (KY) Record-Press, 2/20/1913:
"A Paris newspaper recently offered a prize for the most sensational headlines to any article real or imaginary. Among those sent in were: "The Abduction of the Kaiser," "The Fall of Eiffel Tower," "Parliament Abolishes Salaries for Members," "A Negro Elected President of the United States," and "The Marriage of the Pope of Rome." The latter was awarded the prize."
I literally spend days reading old newspapers from Chronicling America, it is an addiction.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:59 AM on December 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


Chronicling America is one of the greatest government programs of the 21st century.
DIGITIZE AND OCR ALL THE THINGS!
posted by entropicamericana at 8:06 AM on December 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Santa: My little brother Clyde fell down the other day and broke his face. Please bring him a new one. A false face will do. Walter NM1909

SANTA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MOST BATMAN VILLAINS
posted by Shepherd at 8:39 AM on December 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah I thought these were real, just condensed.
posted by sio42 at 8:42 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


When you work back to November's tweets they start to be clearly manufactured.

I've seen a few tweets from this account retweeted in my feed over the years, and I'm pretty sure they're not manufactured. Whoever runs it tends to pick particularly choice items. The headline you quoted is pretty sensationalist, but they usually strike the same sort of quaint tone as these Santa letters.
posted by Sara C. at 8:47 AM on December 9, 2014


Dear Santa: Please bring an Elsa doll a pair of leppard print pants and a razor scooter. Not too sharp if you please as I am only 5 3/4 years old. Stacey OR2014
posted by gottabefunky at 9:09 AM on December 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I notice that the tweets now include images of the newspaper clipping being paraphrased now.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:26 PM on December 10, 2014


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