Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 23, 2013

Boy asked for football, air rifle in 114-year-old letter to Santa

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Meanwhile, another old “Dear Santa” letter — written by a 7-year-old child from London, Ontario in 1915 — captured national attention earlier this month on ABC’s Good Morning America.

“Will you please send me a box of paints, also a nine cent reader, and a school bag to put them in,” Homer Mellen wrote in his letter. “And if you have any nuts, or candy, or toys to spare, would you kindly send me some.”

Homer’s son, Larry Mellen, 79, shared the letter with Good Morning America, to show how many children of today take Christmas for granted because they receive so many more gifts.

Blanchette said his mother — the late Nancy Hyland Blanchette — gave him an old folder about 15 years ago that contained his grandfather’s grammar school papers. Included was the “Dear Santa” letter.

“His simple and polite letter, in remarkably clear penmanship, reflects the wishes of most every young boy over the past 100 years; a football, a golf 'stick,' and like Ralphie in the 1983 film classic 'A Christmas Story,' an air rifle,” Blanchette said.

“Harry’s ‘thank you’ letter to Santa Claus, written the first week in January 1900, tells us of a young boy whose wish list went unheeded by Santa, but who was thankful nonetheless for the simple gifts that he found under the tree Christmas morning: candy and nuts, a toy top, a winter cap and gloves, a handkerchief and, thankfully, a hook and ladder fire truck,” Blanchette said.

Children writing letters to Santa Claus has been an American holiday tradition, one that has been embraced by the U.S. Postal Service for more than a century. Hundreds of thousands of children each year send letters to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska.” Postal “elves” sort the letters, choosing the most needy ones. The public, charitable organizations and corporations team up with USPS to answer the dreams of many children.

Blanchette believes he’s got the oldest of such letters — and one that will be passed down to future generations of his family.

Details for this story were reported by The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.

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