Real Estate investor Robert Goelet was reported to be a New York City Santa Claus, when his big automobile stopped on Fifth Avenue during the holidays in 1914. Wrapped in fur, the generous man pulled a five dollar gold piece from a bag full of coins and handed it to a Traffic Policeman. Goelet tried to keep his identity a secret, but the officer managed to write down his license plate to reveal the name of the jolly elf to the press.
Philharmonic Conductor Josef Stransky
gave a concert for 3500 soldiers preparing for war during the holiday season in 1917. His account of the performance read as follows: Throughout the performance the silence was so electric that the sudden applause that followed each number came with the emotional effect of a thundered crash from a cloudless sky.
The maestro went on to say: The response of those men in a day of terrific toll makes it clear beyond a doubt to me that art-music-can do something to help.
In 1923, a New York Times
article Books for Christmas Trees and Christmas Stockings
recommended the special gift edition of Typee,
a novel about adventures in the South Pacific by Herman Melville
. The new edition featured colored illustrations and was a companion to the special edition of Moby Dick,
issued in time for the holidays in 1922.
Known as the “Breadline Poet,” wealthy investor Robert Clairmont lost an $800,000 portfolio in the stock market crash of 1929. A few years before, Clairmont had made arrangements for WC Handy
to have a concert at Carnegie Hall giving the “Father of the Blues,” the opportunity to be heard in a concert hall when he came to New York. Hearing of Clairmont’s misfortune, the brilliant composer brought the writer to his home on Christmas Eve in 1930 to celebrate the holiday. Barbara Hutton
, an heir to the Woolworth Department Store fortune, responded to a letter written by newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan who asked her to provide an annual Princess Barbara Christmas dinner for the needy families of New York during the Great Depression. She was brought to tears and promptly wrote the future television host a check for $5,000. In his thank you column Sullivan wrote: Your check means a merrier Christmas to the 10,000 poor who didn’t believe in Santa Claus.
In the wake of the Great Depression, New Yorkers established the “Neediest Cases Fund” to help those who were out of work and in need of housing and meals. In 1937, Jeremiah Milbank made a heartfelt plea to potential donors: Christmas would not seem like Christmas if there were not this opportunity given us to bring needed help in all these deserving cases.
Philip Lehman and John and Fannie Hertz were among the Woodlawn Lot Owners who contributed annually to this holiday fund. It was late in December of 1956 when the newspapers announced that the New York Yankees were getting a wonderful Christmas present because Dan Topping
, the President of the ball club, signed Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford! In 1963, Newsday
reported that Parks Commissioner Robert Moses
had “traded in his boxing gloves for a red suit and white whiskers. Just in time for the holiday season, the “Powerbroker” announced that he had reached a compromise with “assorted Santa Clauses” and would be reducing the rates for New York City school children to go to the World’s Fair.