Tis the Season….words we all hear frequently during the Holidays. This too familiar phrase is applied to snow, shopping, the holiday spirit, the flu, and sometimes, as any police officer will tell you, crime. During the holidays the rate of theft and other crimes rises because the level of desperation people feel increases with the pressure to buy, buy, buy.
Littered across the papers from previous Christmases are articles on the crime that increases this time of year. While searching our news scrapbooks for interesting articles I came across several that just made me shake my head and sigh. On December 14, 1959 a leather bag containing $600-$700 was stolen from the Flame Club. Right below that is an article from December 15, 1959. This one stated that someone broke into the pool hall and pried open the back of the music box then the coin box within stealing all the quarters. Next to those is an article also from the 15th about four teens who stole ten cases of Ice Cream Bars, something I know we all want in December. These same youths admitted to stealing a blinker light owned by the state highway commission, and admitted to two separate thefts of beer.
After being thoroughly depressed by these articles I turned the page only to discover more articles of the crimes committed during the 1959 holiday season. After reading about multiple fires, not all crimes but still equally depressing, I came across an encouraging story. Couched at the bottom of the page amidst the stories of burglary, fires, arrests, and stolen hubcaps was the article that caught my attention.
“Wallet is Returned,” is the simple, small headline of this article. It seems on December 21st a woman shopping downtown for Christmas lost her wallet. According to the article, the wallet contained $19 and some papers. While this may not seem like a major loss to some of us now, $19 bought a lot more in 1959 and the woman was distressed to discover it missing. Luckily for the owner, the wallet was quickly recovered. It seems that Leslie Chaves discovered the wallet while shopping downtown, and being an honest young man of seven he gave it to his mother who turned it in. The police returned the wallet to its owner that afternoon.
The paper commented on this charity stating, “It’s the Christmas season and it’s appropriate that one’s faith in his fellow man should be restored.” After reading only one charitable article in two pages for December 1959 I was starting to feel like maybe kindness is appropriate but rarely shown.
I turned the page again and instead of depressing articles about fires and robberies was a large, front page picture about the Salvation Army Christmas toy drive. The photo shows a row of bicycles restored and painted by the firemen of Junction City with four men in the background behind a table piled with toys. This is what “Tis the season” should refer to.
For years now the Salvation Army and other community groups have collected toys for the needy families in Geary County and beyond. This picture is repeated over the next several years as the generosity of people and the fire department was documented. Back then it wasn’t only new toys that were collected; toys and bikes that had already had one child love and use them were repaired and painted by the fire department and made new for another child to cherish.
This tradition continues today in Geary County. While the toys are usually brand new the sentiment hasn’t changed. This is the time of year, the season, when people give generously to others by providing toys and food for those that cannot supply it themselves. So the lesson from going through the scrapbooks is that while crime may rise this time of year it is thankfully balanced out by the good deeds people do for each other.
Photo caption: TOYS READY FOR SANTA’S PACK- Toys which Junction City firemen have repaired and repainted were being distributed today by the Salvation Army to the parents of children who will receive them as Christmas gifts. Capt. Carl Amick, Salvation Army officer, said approximately 250 children will receive gifts because of the generous response of the community and the efforts of the city firemen’s services. At the left is Heath Howery, assistant chief, and Delbert Johnson, chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory board is at the right.