• Last modified 3557 days ago (Nov. 25, 2009)


One alumnus responds to editor's request

One alumnus responds to editor’s request

(Editor’s note: In the 2008 December newsletter that goes to Peabody alumni, I asked for letters about Christmas memories that we could publish this year. Below is the only response I had. Enjoy!)

To the editor:

First, let me tell you that I appreciate the complementary alumni editions of the Gazette-Bulletin. I look forward to reading them and catching up on what is happening in and around Peabody.

As for Christmas memories, it was good to be reminded of all the Santas that have made appearances in the Peabody area. However, I was 10 when our family moved to Peabody, so I missed out on some of the ones named by Susan Schmidt in her article.

One of the first I remember was Santa Jesse. I can still see him driving around Peabody in his pickup truck, wearing his red Santa suit, and handing out candy canes. He always showed up at the annual band concert riding in his homemade sleigh, pulled by eight, two-legged reindeer! On more than one occasion his sleigh almost tipped over since it was going too fast, racing around the high school gym.

Speaking of band concerts, one of my favorites was the year we got new marching/concert band uniforms. We started the concert playing in our “old blue” uniforms. Then the high school members left the gym while the junior high band members performed.

When they finished, the lights were turned off and we quietly moved back into the gymnasium (as quietly as a group of high school kids can move) and lined up around the perimeter.

With the booming of the bass drum, someone hit the lights, and we started playing in our new black marching uniforms. We then changed again, taking off the overlays, and got back into concert formation to finish the program.

Another good band concert memory was when we built the nativity scene silhouette boxes on the opposite bleachers that lighted up as we played different songs to tell the Christmas story.

Later, as an adult, I got involved with economic development and the Main Street Association. Julie Eberhard was Main Street Director and she had the ability to talk me into helping with whatever project was on the schedule.

I have never been too fond of heights, but somehow she talked me into helping put up the white Christmas lights the first year they were installed to outline the downtown buildings, setting the stage for another favorite Christmas tradition. I can still remember hanging over the edge of the city building, fastening lights to the roofline. I think I was scarred for life!

But that first year, the Christmas parade downtown was a lighted parade after sunset. The streetlights and store lights were turned off, all the parade entries had battery or generator-powered lighting, and at the end came the grand finale. Volunteers were positioned at light switches all over town to turn on the lights at the same moment. They came on without a hitch outlining the buildings with a backdrop of fireworks at the south end of Walnut Street. WOW!

Now when I return to Peabody during the month of December to visit family or friends, I take a moment to look up and enjoy the lights. I still appreciate them. And I appreciate the people who make the donations to keep them on, the people who put them up and chase down burned out bulbs, and all that goes with maintaining the wonderful lights of downtown Peabody. Thanks for keeping up the tradition.

Duane Unruh
PHS Class of 1975

Last modified Nov. 25, 2009