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Step Back In Time

December 17, 2013

Step Back in Time: Dec. 17, 2013

Step Back Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Colorin Time features news items from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.

25 years ago

Dec. 17, 1988

MILFORD — It’s that time of year when Helen Wade becomes the Santa Claus lady. She brings her collection of over 400 Santas out of storage for friends and relatives to admire.

She has carefully listed 444 Santas in a record book, each with a notation about the material from which is made and the country from which it came.

Mrs. Wade, who moved to Milford from Buffalo three years ago, has been collecting Santas 25 years.

“I started the collection when my boys went in service and my daughter went to study nursing,” she said. “When I was cleaning out their toys, I found eight or nine Santas and they all looked different. I thought Santa Claus was Santa Claus. So I started collecting them.”

She found Santa figures came in straw, stone, celluloid, papier mache, corn husks, cloth, glass, ceramic, wood, plaster, metal, and other materials.

A Santa from Poland is made of leather, with rabbit fur beard and trim on his hat. A three-foot Santa in the window of her shop, The Apple Tree, has a beard of angel hair.

None of her collected Santas is for sale. She finds them in antique shops, flea markets, garage sales.

She has learned a lot of history through her collection.

“I found a Santa dressed with striped pants and a shirt with stars. He looked like Uncle Sam. I learned that during the Civil War, Santa was dressed that way to bolster the spirits of the soldiers.”

“I never had a Santa as a child,” Mrs. Wade said. “My family celebrated Twelfth Night more.”

Mrs. Wade will be showing some of her Santas at the open house at the Sayre House, museum of the greater Milford Historical Association, 3 to 5 p.m., on Sunday, Dec. 18.

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