By Richard Mabey Jr.
There are people who touch our hearts and lives, to whom we will not truly appreciate their kindness till years and years have passed. Such is the case of my remembrance of the Real Santa Claus of Main Street.
It was a long standing tradition, of the Mabey clan, to spend Christmas Day at the old Mabey Homestead. From the day I was born till I was six years old, my parents and I lived in Clifton. Every Christmas Day, we would sojourn westward on Route 46 to the little hamlet of Lincoln Park, where my great grandmother, Dora Mabey lived.
I remember we would arrive at the old Mabey Homestead, early in the morning. I was a shy and sensitive child, so the abounding number of relatives that would congregate at the old farmhouse, would seem all so overwhelming to me.
I don’t know at what age I had any degree of conscious remembrance of the dear, kind, elderly man who was the Real Santa of Main Street. I remember him fondly as a very kind man with a gentle spirit. He would knock on the door of the old Mabey Homestead, sometime during the late morning on Christmas Day, all dressed in his Santa Claus gear.
My dad was the fifth of nine children, so on Christmas Day the Mabey Homestead abounded with children, my many cousins. Santa would arrive with a big burlap bag strung over his shoulder, with a gift for each and every one of my cousins, my sister and myself. I remember the gifts were not expensive at all. Some were actually handmade toys. While some had a clue of having been passed down from another child, who had outgrown the little toy car or doll.
My mom and dad, my sister Patti and I moved into the old Mabey Homestead in the early Autumn of 1959, shortly after Great Grandma Mabey went Home to be with the Lord. I was six years old that Christmas. I remember wondering if the real Santa would still be knocking on the door on Christmas Day. To my happy surprise, the real Santa did come by to visit us, with presents for my sister and I.
I never learned the name of the Real Santa of Main Street. My grandfather, Watson Mabey, one time told me that he thought that he lived in this little house at the end of Clover Lane. When I was about 10 years old, I walked down Clover Lane, stood at the front yard of that little home and wanted to knock on the front door and see if that was in fact, the home of the real Santa. Sadly and regretfully, I didn’t get the courage to knock on the door. That little home was torn down many years ago, to make room for a larger, modern home.
My Aunt Vi once told me that she thought that the Real Santa of Main Street lived in a little home in Towaco, just past the Lincoln Park border. I don’t think anybody really knew who this kind hearted soul was. It’s one of the greatest mysteries of my childhood.
The Christmas of 1961, when I was eight years old and in the third grade, was the last time that the Real Santa of Main Street ever came to visit us on Christmas Day. I once asked my father if he knew who this gentleman was. He endorsed Grandpa Mabey’s theory.
In deep fondness, I remember the Real Santa of Main Street. I think about him from time to time. My intuition tells me that he was not a wealthy man at all. I think he was actually quite poor. Somehow and someway, he accumulated toys for children in the neighborhood. Most of the toys he gave to us, were handmade. He was truly the real Santa Claus of my childhood.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.