By local writer Carol Wintle Getchell: It was 1956. I was 7 years old. I had two brothers and three sisters: Ella, who was adopted, was 2 months younger than me, Donna was 6, Fred was 5, Beverly had just turned 5 and Alan was 4 years old.
My father, Laddie, worked at Dunbarton Woolen Mill in Dexter. He was laid off from the mill many times so we did not have much. I remember being cold and hungry very often. This was one of the times he was laid off.
When Mom told us that Santa would not be able to stop at our house this year we just accepted it. We knew times were hard and after all we were just "the Wintle tribe". We never were allowed to feel bad for ourselves. We were taught that there always were people who were a lot worse off than we were. We still were happy and enjoyed the holidays and each other. After all, we were Catholics and we knew that Christmas was to celebrate Christ's birthday not to focus on ourselves.
We did not have a car. It was about two miles from our house on the Garland Road to Main Street, Dexter, which we called uptown. The six of us along with Mom would walk uptown to get groceries.
One Friday in December we all walked uptown to do our shopping and Santa Claus was there. We all lined up to talk to Santa. When it came to my turn I told Santa I understood that he probably could not stop at our house this year but I sure would like to have a turkey for Christmas dinner. In my heart I dreamed of a baby doll carriage but I knew better than to ask for one. This request moved Bill Nadeau, who portrayed Santa, to tears. He went all around town and collected things for our Christmas.
On Christmas Eve the town police came to our house. Mom and Dad had just returned from the hospital where my brother, Fred, and sister, Bev, were recuperating from pneumonia. The police brought us such a generous and wonderful surprise. The Sunshine Club provided us with a whole Christmas dinner, which included fresh fruit and a great big delicious turkey.
But, I will never forget that Christmas because God gave me the desire of my heart, a beautiful baby doll carriage just my size.