Depression Era: Dolly Was Baby Jesus in One-Room Schoolhouse Play.

Kansan recalls being a child during the depression era, and volunteering her doll to be Baby Jesus in her school Christmas play.

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The teacher in our one-room schoolhouse asked for a volunteer to bring a doll to be baby Jesus in our Christmas play. I quickly volunteered; I was seven or eight years old at the time, during the depression era.

As the day drew near to take the doll to school, I became more and more distressed because my dolly no longer had shoes. Although the doll would be wrapped in a blanket and nobody would see its feet, I wished desperately for the doll to have shoes. After all, I reasoned, the doll was going to be Jesus.

I knew that my mother and father had new Christmas dolls for my sister and me. They were hidden in the icebox on the back porch (my older sister had found the dolls and showed me where they were): I asked my mother to let me borrow the shoes from the doll I was to receive for Christmas for my doll to wear in the play. Then I begged her to let me borrow the shoes. My mother reluctantly agreed with the understanding that, after the play, which was also on the last day of school before the holiday, the shoes would promptly be returned to her.

On the day of the play I was thrilled to have shoes on my doll, all wrapped snug in a blanket representing Jesus in the Christmas nativity.

On Christmas Eve I thought about my doll being baby Jesus in the school play; then I realized that I had forgotten to bring the doll home from school! In tears I told my mother and father that I had forgotten to bring the doll, with the all-important shoes, home from school.

My parents were upset because they had forgotten about the doll and shoes, too. My father immediately dressed warmly, put the key to the schoolhouse in his pocket and with a lighted lantern left to walk the one-half mile to the schoolhouse on that cold, snowy Christmas Eve.

There was much rejoicing when my father returned to our farm home that night.

Mary Jane Winn Fleming
Gardner, Kansas

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.