The Real Santa

My father ran what was called a “dry goods” store. This meant that food or perishable goods were not sold. It was really a variety store selling clothes to toys. The sign that hung out front read “Brown’s 5¢ and $1.00 Store.” This should not be confused with the modern Dollar Stores. Prices were just in keeping with the times in what was considered fair and reasonable. Most dollars were paper but when Daddy got a Silver dollar he gave it to me to save for Christmas. I kept them in a sock in a chifforobe drawer in the bedroom. After Christmas each year I noticed that the sock was empty. I was told that Santa Claus got the Silver dollars to pay for the toys I had received. I always received a big Christmas.

As a small boy about five I had the idea of a burglar, as I had seen depicted in comic strips, as a man wearing a mask with a large bag of stolen goods over his back who entered houses on the sly. I usually never feared a burglar or even thought about one except around Christmas time. In my young mind there seemed a close similarity between a burglar and Santa Claus. Both carried a bag over their shoulders. Neither entered houses the usual way. And although Santa left me lots of nice gifts, he did get the Silver dollars.

Christmas night was a frightening time for me. I wanted Santa Claus to come and leave me the gifts and I didn’t really care about the Silver dollars, but I wondered if I could trust Santa Claus to be harmless.

Mother always helped Daddy at the store on Christmas Eve since this was such a big selling day. I stayed at the store with them until closing time which was usually late. I always hoped Santa Claus would come before we got home. Of course that never happened. Although I went to bed I never shut my eyes. After all the Silver dollars were in the bedroom where we slept!

After my fifth Christmas Mother explained Santa Claus to me with the agreement that I would never discuss this with other children. I never did until I had my own.