By DAN WHITTLE/ Courier Staff Writer
If you think Cannon County’s Courthouse Square is pretty in daylight hours, it literally sparkles at night.
It’s beginning to “look a lot like Christmas” around the city’s pristine Public Square, judged one of the prettiest downtowns in Tennessee, according to Chamber of Commerce types who know about such matters.
“We have ‘Christmas Wreath Contest’ decorations’ up all around Courthouse Square,” confirmed Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon. “You can’t believe the popularity of this event, and it’s only our first year of inviting folks to help decorate the Square in the Christmas Spirit…”
County Maintenance Supervisor Daryl Fisher “has been kept busy” over-seeing placement of the wreaths.
“All 24 light poles that surround the square have 30-inch-plus wreaths with lights,” described Diane Hickman, Gannon’s secretary in-charge of the contest that will be judged soon by people outside of Cannon County.
“It’s proved so popular we plan to make it an annual event.”
One of the prettiest wreaths to date is a Santa display, complete with lights, created by Readyville resident Myra Fann.
“Most of the wreaths have come from businesses,” added Hickman. “We also have one entry from the children at R.E.A.C.H., the after school program…”
Cannon Christmas 1930.
Cannon’s Christmas 2012 is strikingly different from Christmas 1930 when the nation was gripped in poverty due to the Great Depression, confirms Bill Smith, age 94.
“Our feet would hit the cold winter floors on Christmas morning, but the warmth of the season more than offset the cold,” noted Smith, age 94, a retired Cannon County banking legend. “Going to the woods, to cut our own little cedar tree was high adventure in itself.”
“Fresh fruit” was a big Yule Time gift of that era.
“Mostly apples and oranges,” Smith traced back in time. “I was a biggo boy when I saw and ate my first banana….a huge treat for our Christmas in 1930.”
“The Depression hit hard, but my father made ends meet, as a teacher and superintendent of schools,” the banker deposited in his time capsule. “Dad also was a director with the Cannon Banking Company that helped many folks survive the Great Depression, economically.”
Christmas trees helped prepare sons Steve and Mike Smith for future business careers, the father noted.
“In the late 1940s and early 1950s, our sons would take to the woods, and chop trees they would sell from our back yard,” Smith accounted. “They’re sell the fresh-cut trees for 50 cents or a dollar…but it added up and was great experience for them. Some years, they’d make up to a $100 each, selling their little trees…”
“I recall Hoyt and Frances Bryson coming to buy their family’s Christmas tree from my boys each year,”
recalled Smith, a lifelong resident of Cannon County.
Cannon Christmas 1950
“Rock candy and chocolate drops were headline items for our childhood Christmases on Pleasant Ridge,” noted Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick. “On Christmas Eve, we’d head to the woods and cut a small cedar tree. No decorations, mind you, just the tree, for we were poor farm people…”
“Due to lean times, there were no toys for me and brother Buford,” Patrick recalled. “But we loved the apples and oranges, fresh fruit that we could not get any other time of the year.”
If not for hard work, there would have been no Christmas giving and sharing.
“What money we scraped together for Christmas, came from stripping and shipping our tobacco crop to the market barns in Carthage,” Patrick traced back in time. “But, despite the hard farm labor of that era, our Christmases were special, for we were a close loving family, headed by our hard-working parents, White and Christine Mayo Patrick.
“Momma would prepare a delicious Christmas meal, fit for royalty, from the fresh pork we had from Thanksgiving hog-killing day, when farm neighbors from miles around would gather and help each other,” Patrick added. “It was a time of hard work and not much money, so we appreciated the sharing and giving that came with Christmases back on the farm…”
Christmases, past and present, make warm memories among families.