The Gold Star Girl

On this day in 1908–107 years ago–at this very house in Tacoma, a young girl helped her mother plan Christmas.


Dec 2015_Lillians notebook_1908 (4)


Her name was Lillian, she was 14, and older sister to Lalla, Hazel, and Bertha.

Sister Hazel was six that year, and I believe this letter to Santa was written by Lillian, for Hazel. Dad, Elmer, holds a swing for his girls.

PIX_Butterfield_Elmer and daughters on swing Lalla Hazel and Lillian_Minneapolis

Careful that Santa have an easy path to the tree, the front door would not be locked.

“The door will be left unlocked so you won’t have to go down the chimney.”

More than cookies and milk, Santa was in for a full meal deal.

“There will be a lunch on the table.” 

And, they figured they better cover all their bases: “You can put your reindeer in the barn and feed them.” Oh, no, Santa would not be rushed; this guy would take his time. He was going to stick around and do this present thing correctly.

The important issues were addressed before the business of gifts. These were kind, polite (if not determined) girls, but thoughtful as well.

“Please don’t forget the poor people.”

Lillian was very thorough. Not only did she write up a bill of sale, she detailed the menu in her delicate script. For $2.20, a Christmas meal was born. The Glenn Brothers and Lillian’s mother, Orah, busy with baby Bertha, were no doubt very appreciative.

Dec 2015_Lillians notebook_1908 (2)

Dec 2015_Lillians notebook_1908 (1)

Halibut and Turkey? Rice potatoes and mashed potatoes? Strawberry sauce and raspberry jelly? What is apple pudding (with cream)? Buns and butter? I’ve no doubt those were made from scratch. All of this after tomato soup? I am delighted, impressed, and definitely hungry. I have no doubt Lillian played a big part in the preparation of this meal.

She must have been a top notch student. Careful and deliberate, her handwriting reveals she wasn’t rushed or messy. Mama Orah must have agreed, having saved Lillian’s December 16th spelling test. Written one hundred and seven years ago today, it gives me pause.

The arrival of Bertha had completed the family, and Elmer had plenty of work. Life was good. Lillian–ever helpful–was her mama’s gold star girl.

Dec 2015_Lillians notebook_1908 (5)

Little did they know, tragedy would soon strike, playing a big part in the creation of  The Malevolent Matriarch. The first entry of my vintage blog, Cherry Season, is nearly complete. Stay tuned.

Dec 2015_Lillian Butterfield_year before 1912
Lillian May Butterfield

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