From the Dec. 20, 1974 edition of the Gazette:

The hum of activity — including a few short-lived squabbles — prevailed in Island schools this week as youngsters made final preparations for Christmas. Before the holiday recess that begins today, children were knee deep in Elmer’s glue, tempura paints, paper and plain old Crayolas. The projects at least proved teachers’ diligence in providing young artists with a variety of media for their talents. The products of all their energy will warm the hearts of parents Christmas Day. As she squeezed the milky contents of an enormous bottle of Elmer’s glue onto the back of a used Christmas card, Heidi Ben David of the Edgartown school agreed all of the activity made her think more and more about Christmas. Above her several gingerbread men dangled from a string. Wreaths covered a bulletin board and paintings of candy canes were drying on the room dividers.

Heidi hopes Santa will bring her a Barbie Make-up Kit. “It’s a head and you put the make-up on the face,” she said. Some of the make-up, she admitted, might find its way to her face: “I have lots of jewelry, and I love to dress up.”

If visions of sugarplums are passe, then the Evel Knievel canyon sky rocket will be the reigning vision in young lads’ minds on Christmas Eve. There are exceptions. Mark Windsor will be concentrating on a jackknife he hopes to receive. He’ll use it to carve things with, he says. He was showing other students in the Edgartown first- and second-grade class a Christmas tile he created showing a polar bear getting a haircut. It was a gift for his father.

In another room at the Edgartown school, Richard Toteanu and Dale Edwards were working on a mural entitled, A UFO Christmas. Spaceships filled the sky rather than the traditional sleigh and reindeer. The boys were still looking forward to jolly ol’ Santa’s visit, though. A life-size angel painting collided with a Santa Claus, and the consequent smudge of red on the angel’s wings caused some tears. All hands continued with what they were doing. In the hallway several boys played notes on chimes. The children had painted Santas and snowmen and carolers on the windows along the corridor. Jeffrey Gunderson pinged a few notes, varying their order, on the three chimes. His music teacher asked him if he had been writing the combinations down. “We can put words to your music,” he was told. But Jeffrey’s mind was elsewhere - thinking about a punching bag and a walkie-talkie.

One small tot stood coloring a Santa by a numbered sheet prepared by her teacher. Nothing much could rouse her to conversation. When asked what she wanted for Christmas, though, she said without hesitation, “Baby Alive by Kenner.”

The projects for the most part were gifts for parents. Rosemary McHugh was putting the finishing touch on a book she made and bound for her mother. What parent tires of covered pencil boxes? In addition, there were carols to practice and poems to learn for the class presentations which would end the school day.

At the West Tisbury School Darcy Lambert and Christine Kent talked about homemade decorations they were making for their Christmas tree. As for presents on Darcy’s shopping list: “I’m knitting some mittens and things. My grandma taught me how to knit this summer.”

Amy Buxton hopes that besides the books and bicycle she wants, a special present would arrive by Christmas. “My mom is going to have a baby. I guess I want it to be a girl, because, after all, I’m a girl.”

Christmas means good smells, cookies and big family dinners. Many children were looking forward to older brothers’ and sisters’ coming home for the holidays. Geoff (“Spell it right”) McCullough was excited about his sister Melissa’s coming home from college in New York.

“People are just happier at Christmas,” one youngster observed.

Besides all the presents the children had the long holiday break to think about. What would they do without school to fill up their day? Ice-skate, play, visit friends, stay overnight with friends, were suggested. Undoubtedly some mothers will be counting the days until school resumes and the broken toys from this year’s Christmas have gone the way of yesteryear’s sugarplums.

Joy to the world, and two Joys are better than one at the Dukes County Historical Society in Edgartown.

Joy Ryan, who is helping catalogue and straighten things out at the society had the idea of a display of early Christmas cards, and with the help of her friend Joy Stuart they have made something pretty and different.

The earliest cards in the collection are dated 1887 and were donated my Mrs. A. S. Huntsman.

Mrs. Robert Chapman has sent in seven different groups of ancient cards and Lucy Andrews Dowd has been sending in batches of memorabilia, including more cards, so there are plenty to oggle at.

All the colors are just as pretty as they can be, while most of the subjects on the old cards are babies or cherubs; there’s absolutely no hint of holly, sparkle or Mr. S. Claus.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox