One of my favorite stories of a Christmas past is from 1958. As family knows, my dad lost his job in 1956 when the company he worked for went under due to some nefarious practices by the company financing them. He was about 48 years old, and work was hard to find for a man that old in those days. People thought he should have done better, taken care of his family better, etc. He had a small business he had never given up, which helped tide us over, but Christmas times were hard for a few years.
By 1958, we were living in Middletown, and he was selling roofing materials for large buildings in the winter and doing the application in the summer. He had gotten paid from the sales of some of the material, and we had some money, but not much extra. We went to Muncie on that Christmas Eve for some prudent Christmas shopping, and to the grocery store, and were nearly out of what little money we had. The grocery was the A&P on South Madison.
Now, those of your who knew my dad, Bob Moore, know him to have been a good looking man and a nice dresser. And for some strange reason, when he lost his job, and we were forced to move around, we somehow never lost the 1952 Cadillac that we had bought several years earlier, before the job loss. I don’t know how that happened, I just know it did. So that night, in Muncie, my dad was dressed up, having come from doing business, and my mother and I were not shabbily put together either.
As we walked out of the grocery, my dad saw a row of Christmas trees propped against the building. The manager had helped us carry our groceries out to the car and was putting them in the trunk when my dad asked, “How much do you want for a Christmas tree?” The man named a price I do not recall, and my dad said, “Well, I know a poor family who could use one.” The manager said, “Well, go ahead and just take one, then. No cost.” They picked one out, and tied it to the 1952 Cadillac for the ride to the poor family’s house, and off we went.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, my mother turned to my dad and asked, “How much was the Christmas tree?” He answered, “Nothing?” She was astonished. “How did you do that?” “Well,” he said, “I told the manager I knew a poor family who needed one, and he just gave me one for them for free. We ARE the poorest family I know.” My mother was mortified. But the tree went home with us that night, and shone brightly in our home in the country east of Middletown for that Christmas season.
And that, my children, is how my dad “stole” a Christmas Tree.