Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmases Past to Remember

Enchanted Village at Jordan Marsh Department store in
Boston was a Christmas highlight for children for many years

            It’s fun to think back about Christmases past, and at my age, I’ve got a bunch from which to select.

            Christmas 1960.  We had son John, nearly 3 years old, and now Mark, barely a month old, and we lived in Ledyard, Conn.  I was stationed aboard USS Sablefish, a diesel submarine out of New London.  We drove to Medford, Mass. to spend Christmas with Marty’s mother.   The whole Boston area was in an especially joyous mood, because a young Boston senator had just been elected President.  The snow came down, and down, and down. There was the trip downtown to take the kids to Enchanted Village at Jordan Marsh Co….. and putting up the tree.  It was a warm, simple Christmas with two small boys. And a very White Christmas.
            Christmas 1970, Tehran, Iran, surrounded by wonderful Iranian people who knew nothing about Christmas.  Among the westerners there we gathered together to celebrate the season. We went down to the heart of old Tehran to the British Embassy, where an enterprising Persian had assembled fresh-cut Christmas trees to sell. We had a great Christmas!
            Christmas 1973, our destroyer had just arrived on the Gunline.  This was a station in the Gulf of Tonkin, off Viet Nam, where U.S. Navy destroyers provided naval gunfire attacks on North Vietnamese targets.  We also helped to provide escort for carriers operating in Yankee Station.
            On Christmas eve a helicopter from one of the carriers brought over a huge collection of mail, our first since we had arrived on station.  It was wonderful!  There were letters and cards from home, and packages of goodies, and even some pictures and videos of the family. 
            Shortly after this delivery we looked up when we heard the rumble of B52 bombers flying north toward Hanoi.  This was part of President Nixon’s “Christmas Bombing”, an 11-day bombing campaign against Hanoi and Haiphong to get the South and North Vietnamese to return to negotiations for peace. 
            We had a makeshift Christmas eve mass in the Crew’s Messhall, watching a film of a priest saying the mass.  We had no gunfire missions that night. 

Helicopters aboard an ammunition ship are a Godsend, in many ways.

            Christmas 1974, I was at sea again, but this was in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War.  I had taken command of a bright, shiny new ammunition ship, and on her maiden deployment to the Mediterranean we had been ordered to bring many tons of extra ammunition because of the war.
            The Egyptians and the Syrians had attacked Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year—Yom Kippur—and for a while it looked like they would succeed in recapturing all the land the Arabs had lost in the Six-Day War of 1967. 
            In those days the U.S. supplied the Israelis with tons of munitions and other kinds of assistance, and the USSR did the same with the Arabs.  The Mediterranean was a very hot place to be, with many, many Soviet and American warships.  Our ammunition ship, USS Mount Baker, had the task of supplying our aircraft carriers and their escorts. 
            The Israelis managed to surround one Egyptian Army, and with victories there and with the Syrians, both sides agreed to a ceasefire.  But the tension between Russians and Americans continued. 
            Under that tension, we anchored in the western Mediterranean, in Palma, Majorca, to celebrate Christmas.  It was quiet, with good food, but no family.
            As soon as we anchored in Palma the sailors flooded ashore.  Then, for three days, they were stranded, and left to enjoy all that time in various bars and hotels, until their money ran out. 
            Since it looked like the weather would be too rough for boating for several more days, I had our helicopters start ferrying the sailors back aboard.  It took a long time.
            The sailors came aboard, got cleaned up, picked up their pay or borrowed money, and since the very next day was calm enough for boats to run, off they went ashore again.
            Then the weather got rough again, and they were stranded, to their delight.
            However, it was about time for us to lift anchor and continue on our business, so I had the helicopters haul them all back again. 

            We had three wonderful Italian Christmases in Naples, in 1975, 1976 and 1977.   Neapolitans really know how to celebrate Christmas, and it is so low-key, so down-to-earth that it seems more like the way Americans say they’d like to celebrate it.  Christmas in Naples is short on the marketing and shopping, long on the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and really long on good food. 

Spaccanapoli, the old heart of the city: Via San Gregorio-Armeno

            In the “Gut” of Naples, Spaccanapoli, you can wander for blocks amidst real Neapolitans, pickpockets and other thieves, tourists, and plain Italians.  Naples always has more color and flavor than the rest of Italy, because there’s definitely an Arab, African and Middle-Eastern influence here. 
            Here there are many blocks of markets that sell the finest presepes, or Manger scenes, that start with Baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and the three wise men, but then go on and on with  beautifully detailed little bread-sellers, wine merchants, beggars, and today, even President Obama!  This is a many-centuries old Naples tradition, and the museum at Capodimonte, at the top of the city, is filled with rare, exquisite little people from these scenes.

Some of the detailed objects for sale with Presepes in Spaccanapoli.
(Picture courtesy of

Aerial view of Naples, with Capodimonte Museum in foreground.

The Personal Navigator has these books and papers to offer you:

Boston Courier, Semi-Weekly, Monday, October 1, 1829 Buckingham, J.T., Editor. 1829 Boston, MA: Adams & Holden, Printers. Excellent two-column dissertation by J.R. Poinsett of South Carolina, who has been the United States' Envoy to Mexico, but accused by the Mexicans of meddling in their internal affairs and fomenting revolution.  This discussion of accusations and Poinsett's explanations is tremendously valuable to anyone interested in the history of Mexican-American relations preceding the annexation of Texas, and the war that ended with the accession of much of the southwestern United States.  Erasmus Doolittle writes a lively, humorous column about his travel to ChinaIt is interesting to see how much Boston readers were exposed to in 1829!  Report from England of events in Turkey, where the Russians are at the gates of Constantinople.  The Sultan has removed to Broussa (Bursa), about 100 miles from Constantinople, across the Propontis (Hellespont). Report from the Allgemeine Zeitung states that Russian troops have landed at Sizeoboli, and the whole army of the Seraskier has been dispersed.  The Armenians, whom the Sultan has by his very ill-judged policy alienated, every where united with the Russians as they advance.          4 pp.    39 x 50 cm. Newspaper, small holes in folds,  good. Inscription on top of page one "G. Wilkinson". (8138) $40.00. Newspapers/Mexico/China/Armenians

Boston Courier, Semi-Weekly, Monday, October 15, 1829 Buckingham, J.T., Editor. 1829. Boston, MA: Adams & Holden, Printers. This issue is full of news from Europe as the story of long battle for Serbian and Greek independence plays to a climax.  The news comes by the latest ship, which brings news from London, Brussels, Vienna and elsewhere, that the Russian Fleet has been bombarding Constantinople (now Istanbul) with great damage, and also landed troops, but local opposition forced them back aboard their ships.  On one side of this struggle, which has been going on since 1804, are the British, French and Germans, in support of Greek independence from Turkey, and Russia on the other side, but also supporting the Greeks, but helping themselves to territory near Constantinople. More than one column dedicated to discussion of new school books that are coming out, the best and most prominent being "The Improved Guide to English Spelling" by William B. Fowle.  There is a long, humorous column about "Recollections of China" that discusses Chinese desire to be buried in a good coffin.  A son will sell himself into slavery to pay for a good coffin for his father.  If you cannot pay for a good funeral to go with the fine coffin, you seal and glaze the coffin until better times arrive, even 20 years.  The first part of a funeral is like an Irish burial, with a great deal of howling.  4 pp. 39 x 50 cm.          Newspaper, small holes in folds,  good. Inscription on top of page one "G. Wilkinson". (8140) $39.00. Newspapers/Greece/Turkey/China

Boston Courier, Semi-Weekly, Monday, October 22, 1829 Buckingham, J.T., Editor 1829            Boston, MA: Adams & Holden, Printers. Report of Merchants' Dinner at Tremont House, with report of toasts.  Lead story is long report of a trial of five men in Boston circuit Court for conspiracy, revolt and mutiny aboard the brig Apthorp.  News from the War around Constantinople: The Russian army entered Adrianople (old Ottoman capital, now Edime) on the 20th of August. the Turkish fleet is shut up in the port of BujukdereEnglish ambassador at St. Petersburg has visited with Emperor Nicholas, who says that negotiations to avert the fate of Constantinople are useless. The Sultan is doing everything to excite the population against Russia, and the British Cabinet has determined to declare war upon Russia.  There is a long, humorous column about "Recollections of China" that discusses city of Canton, harbor swarming with boats, streets are as busy as an ant hill. Chinese gentlemen must have their head shaven smoothly-- their heads look like a large collection of turnips.  4 pp.       39 x 50 cm. Newspaper, small holes in folds,  good. Inscription on top of page one "G. Wilkinson". (8141) $39.00. Newspapers/Greece/Turkey/China

Boston Courier, Semi-Weekly, Monday, December 3, 1829 Buckingham, J.T., Editor. Boston, MA: Adams & Holden, Printers. 4 pp. 39 x 50 cm. An Account of the Trade and Commerce of the Black Sea: Lengthy description of goods being shipped to and from Odessa. Includes Port and Dry Madeira from Spain and Portugal; Claret in oxhofs of 240 bottles, wines from Lunel, Frontignan, also fine oil, vinegar, pickles, porcelaine and snuff from France; Sicilian wines for the poor class of people, fine wines such as Lachryma Christi, Lucca oil, Parmesan, maccaroni; Alonski and Radosto wine from the Sea of Marmora; Bekmis sweet raisin wine, raisins, figs, dates, oranges, spun Smyrna cotton, mocha coffee from the Levant; exports include iron, tallow and butter from Siberia; Caviar from Astrakhan; and much more. In nearly three columns, discussion of trade includes roubles and other currency exchanged, ships, shipments, weights and measures traded, and more. Humorous Hint to Walkers, including carrying your umbrella low, aimed at the eyes of passengers.  Adv. Fifty bales of Buffalo robes have just arrived by the Sloop Comet and are available for sale at Livermore & Kendall, 27 Kilby St. Newspaper, small holes in folds,  good.  (8162) $36.00. Newspapers/Black Sea

Boston Courier, Semi-Weekly, Monday, December 21, 1829 Buckingham, J.T., Editor 1829        Boston, MA: Adams & Holden, Printers Editor's Correspondence from Washington in the first year of the administration of President Andrew Jackson, discusses in dreadfully lengthy detail the minor actions relating to whether or not to build naval ships, repair the ones in existence, or neither.  Harvard College has been asked to render its scholarly advice as to whether or not Free Masonry existed before the last (18th) century.  Much interest in anti-Masonry.  Snide report of the appointment to chaplaincy in the United States Navy of Rev. John N. Maffitt by President-elect Andrew Jackson.  Rev. Maffitt, an Irishman, and partizan of Gen. Jackson, gave a toast to Jackson at a banquet in Boston in January, 1828.  Recollections of Turkey, No. III: The Sultan lives in his palace of the Seraglio, as insecure "as a drunken sailor on a mast."  The Seraglio is a palace, a prison and a shambles. Recollections continue in scathing commentary about the Sultan and Turkey for over a column. List of all members of Congress included. 4 pp. 39 x 50 cm.  Newspaper, small holes in folds,  good. Inscription on top of page one "G. Wilkinson".          (8142) $36.00. Newspapers/Turkey

Shocks from the Battery; or Sermons and Sayings by Rev. Benjamin Pomeroy of Troy (Methodist) Conference with an introduction by Rev. Jesse T. Peck, D.D.. Sixth edition. 1874. Albany, NY: S.R. Gray , State Street. Sermons and sayings of a remarkable man, eccentric, bright, powerful. At Camp Meetings he has shown a wholly unusual power of thought and expression. Frontispiece engraved picture of Rev. Pomeroy.
To the backslider:  "Yes, you are there in murderous blood -- the mark is on you--it's on your feet.  How hard you trod Him down when you treated with contempt His salvation! Oh! How drabbled in atonement blood you are! As these blood-spotted multitudes are made to face retribution, I seem to see restrained lightning grow restless and fiery. O,  how its forkedness shoots out like adder's tongues -- lurid and red, all tremulous with charged damnation, as if to be avenged on that spotted throng! How atonement blood on feet stirs the vials of wrath!"
300 pp. 14 x 21 cm. Quarter black leather with cloth on board, edges scuffed, very good. (5391) $44.00. Religious

Skinner: "The Christian Lawyer" -- A Sermon Delivered in The Fifth Universalist Church in Boston, February 18, 1855 at the funeral of John C. Danforth, by Rev. Otis A. Skinner by Skinner, Otis A., Rev. 1855 Boston, MA: Crosby, Nichols & Co. A noted Boston minister delivers this funeral sermon for a young "Christian Lawyer" who died at the age of (about) 27.  Rev. Skinner thought that his remarks might be inspiring to other young men, and so offered to publish this.  Booklet contains tributes to Danforth from Boston newspapers. 32 pp. 15 x 23.8 cm. Paper booklet, very good. (7915) $23.00. Religious

Socialism: The Nation of Fatherless Children; Second Edition by Goldstein, David and Avery, Martha Moore 1911 Boston, MA: Thomas J. Flynn & Co. 365 pp. + adv. 13 x 20 cm. This early attack on Socialism first appeared in 1903. This edition is sponsored by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.  In preface to second edition in carries numerous scathing comments about the book from the Socialist press. This book shows how Socialists attack society to advance their cause. Materialistic doctrine of Socialism.  Origin and Ethics of Socialism Opposed to Christianity. Socialist Tactics.  International Socialism. Political Atheism.  Free Love. Homeless Children.  Abolition of the State. Red cloth on board with white lettering; lettering on spine faded; very good. (2811) $15.00. Religion/Socialism

Front cover of Rev. Thompson's Sermon of Nov. 29, 1821

Thompson, Rev. Otis: Sermon, A, Preached November 29, 1821; The Day Which Completed One Hundred Years Since the Organization of the Congregational Church in Rehoboth, Mass. By Otis Thompson, A.M., Pastor of Said Church 1821 Taunton, MA: A. Danforth, Printer. 23 pp. 14 x 23.7 cm.    Reverend Thompson (b. 9-14-1776) served as pastor of the Rehoboth Congregational Church for over 25 years. In this sermon he takes for his text Acts IX, 31, and describes how Saul of Tarsus was "exceedingly mad against the saints of Christ Jesus: and acting under the highest authority in the Jewish church, shut them up in prison, punished them oft.... when they were put to death, gave his voice against them," Then, on the road to Damascus, he was "arrested by a light and voice from heaven... was changed from a blasphemer to a preacher of the faith which before he destroyed. Rev. Thompson ends his sermon with words from Christ: "He who is not with me, is against me, and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." Paper booklet, bound with thread, moderate wear, good. (7704) $36.00. Religious   

Treatise on Self-Knowledge by Mason, John, A.M. ca. 1830 New York, NY: American Tract Society.  Mason's book of philosophy first appeared in England in 1745, and thereafter was very widely published.  Nature of self-knowledge; Benefits; How Attained. "The more we know of ourselves, the more useful we shall probably be in those stations of life in which Providence has placed us." This book came from a collection in the Old Pearson Tavern (b. 1694), Byfield, MA. 191 p. 9.7 x 15.3 cm. Calf on board with black enamel title block on spine. Cover lightly scuffed and worn. Small hole near heel of spine. Owner name inscribed on ffep: "AM Robinson Book". Very good. (3955) $31.00. Religious.

Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, Boston, Saturday, August 29, 1840 Whittemore, Thomas, Editor 1840 Boston, MA: Trumpet & Universalist Magazine. Lead article: "Renunciation of Universalism" a Sermon by Rev. Wm. Whitaker, of New-York, from the N.Y. Universalist Union.  Whitaker rejects doctrine that supposes that Jesus Christ is nothing but a mere man. Also, that it undervalues the use of the means of grace. Thomas J. Sawyer offers his "Statement of Facts" regarding Rev. Whitaker's Renunciation. At Brighton Market, price for beef cattle, cows and calves, sheep and swine. Editor comments on bitter, vituperative letter from Rev. E.N. Harris to Rev. Amos Hitchings, refusing to publish it. 4 pp. 40 x 56 cm. Newspaper, only minor wear, very good. (7283) $21.00. Religious

Unitarians: Fourteenth Report of the American Unitarian Association with the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting, May 29, 1839; 1st Series No. 143 Nichols, Rev. Dr Boston, MA: American Unitarian Association. Anniversary meeting held on Tuesday evening, May 29th, 1839, in the Berry Street Vestry, the Rev. Dr. Nichols, president, in the chair. Annual report. Tract distribution.  Destitute Societies.  Missionary Operations. Ministry to the Poor. British and Foreign Unitarian Association.  Constitution. List of Members for Life, Clergy and other. Includes Title page for Tracts First Series 132 to 143, but they are not included.  69 pp. 13 x 20 cm. Paper booklet, fastened with stitching. Pages uneven, many unopened. Good.            (7675) $29.00. Religious

Universalist, The; and Ladies' Repository; Boston, Saturday, February 8, 1834 Smith, Daniel D., Editor 1834 Boston, MA Daniel D. Smith. Address delivered at the funeral of Matthew Jasper Smith, only child of Rev. M.H. Smith of Hartford, CT.  An Address delivered before the First Society of Universalists in Danvers, MA at the Dedication of their church, June 28th, 1833, by Rev. L. Willis. Excuse for Neglecting Public Worship-- the fourth excuse is the expense of public worship; fifth excuse is that many can not keep awake in church. Extract from a New-Year's Sermon by Rev. T.B. Thayer. The Trial of Abner Kneeland for blasphemy ended yesterday with a verdict of guilty. Caution to Mothers, No. 1: "Do not talk about children in their presence."  "..if mothers exercise care, and proceed cautiously, they will save their children from years of woe, and adorn their handsome children with that greatest of all ornaments-- 'a meek and quiet' which in the sight of God is of great price." Hints to Young Females. "The sentiment for woman has undergone a change.  The romantic passion, which once almost deified her, is on the decline; and it is by intrinsic qualities that she must now inspire respect.  There is less enthusiasm entertained for her, but the regard is more rational, and perhaps equally sincere." 16 pp. 18 x 27 cm. Paper periodical, edges cut unevenly, good. (7382) $16.00. Religious

 Universalist, The; and Ladies' Repository; Boston, Saturday, January 10, 1835 Smith, Daniel D., Editor 1835 Boston, MA: Daniel D. Smith.   Sermon by B.B. Whittemore from 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4. "What is truth?" Pilate asked our blessed Savior. The gospel is good news, it publishes salvation. "Female Independence" "When the female of our species shall always follow the admirers of whatever is fashionable, and sacrifice her sense of right to the deity of popularity, she is pursuing a course which directly tends, not only to her own, but also to the disrespect of her sex." Poem, "Moments of Melancholy”, Medford, Dec. 1834. "The False Friend"… “is the bitterest curse ever entailed upon him, yea, is worthy of the spurning fool, far more than any of the serpent tribe who make the earth their bed."  On final two pages is Hymn by Rev. Thomas Whittemore. "Sophronia. P.M." 8 pp. 26 x 32 cm. Paper periodical, pages unevenly opened by hand, poor. (7385) $16.00. Religious

Vermont Journal, Brattleboro, Saturday, April 9, 1881 Brattleboro, VT:  The Journal Company. The sacredness of the Sabbath is not always observed by politicians.  Last Saturday Senators Conkling and Platt, Governor Cornell, Vice President Arthur and Postmaster-General James  did not get through comparing notes until Sunday. Four years ago Conkling engaged in a power struggle with President Hayes.  "The Hero of Gettysburg" was not General Hancock, recently defeated in the national election by Garfield, but General Meade.  There are at least a dozen Senators who may be called millionaires, led by Sen. Fair of Nevada, probably worth as much as all the others put together.  Next is Davis of Illinois who has gathered millions, as well as 375 pounds avoirdupois. Sawyer of Wisconsin, who was a poor Vermont boy, is next.   The Story Teller:  "Poor Miss Brackenthorpe" --what was revealed after she died. Illustrated ads for Perry Davis' Pain Killer, The "Only" Lung Pad, Madame Griswold's Skirt-supporting Corsets. 8 pp. 40 x 58 cm.   Newspapers, numerous tiny tears in creases, paper unopened, fair. (8198) $24.00. Newspapers/History

Warwick's Spare Minutes; or Resolved Meditations and Premeditated Resolutions by Warwick, Arthur ca. 1850 Philadelphia, PA: Henry F. Anners. First published about 1637, Warwick's book is dedicated to Sir William Dodington, Knt. Warwick filled this tiny book with thoughtful words to encourage, inspire and refresh the spirit.  119 pp. 7 x 11 cm. Green cloth blindstamped boards, engraved frontispiece illustration of meditating 17th century man with dog at his feet.  Very good. (6835) $33.00. Religious          

Watchman and Reflector, December 29, 1870 Boston, MA: Watchman and Reflector. Lively, intelligent religious paper set the tone for a straitlaced, sober Boston readership. Long tribute to Bartholomew T. Welch, D.D. (b. 1794 d.1870) His grandfather was a lieutenant on United States Frigate Alliance, and his father a midshipman on that same ship.  His mother was daughter of Capt. Barthol Trow, one of the tea party. Report of celebration Dec. 21, 1870, of 250th anniversary of landing of Pilgrims at Plymouth. Instead of a bleak, hostile shore, behold the beautiful town of Plymouth, and long trains of Old Colony railroad cars bringing hundreds to this jubilee. Editorial decries quarrel going on now in Washington between two of "our" political faith, President Grant and Senator Sumner, both Republicans. 8 pp. 41 x 58 cm. Newspaper, uncut, some tiny holes in folds, good. (8176) $27.00. Religious/History      

What is Religion? And Other New Articles and Letters by Lyof N. Tolstoï, Translated by V. Tchertkoff and A.C. Fifield 1902 New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co. Tolstoy (or Tolstoï) conducts a very learned and thought-provoking conversation in this book.  He begins by stating that religion is no longer necessary, but goes on to develop a much more comprehensive philosophy than just as an agnostic.  Having been excommunicated from the Holy Synod in Russia in 1901, he includes in this book his Reply to the Synod's edict. Also included in "Private Letters" is a letter to a Persian in which he writes that wars can be abolished only by the individuals who suffer by them.  177 pp. 13 x 19.5 cm. Dark blue cloth on board with gilt lettering and gilt Double-Eagle Russian seal. Ex-library (contains bookplate from Haverhill [MA] Public Library). Some pencil marks by key items in text. Good. (3314) $21.00. Religious/Philosophy

Withington:"The Soul of Man"  A Sermon Preached at the Tabernacle Church, Salem, Mass. April 22, 1832 by Leonard Withington, Pastor of the First Church in Newbury  Withington, Leonard, Rev. 1832 Newburyport, MA: by Charles Whipple. Reverend Withington (1789-1885)  preached this sermon on the Soul of Man from the text of Genesis II, 7. Withington, who graduated from Yale College in 1814, was a notable personality all during his long preaching career.  He continued his preaching and ministry, becoming the oldest Congregational Minister in America, until he died in 1885 at the age of 96.  22 pp.     15 x 24.7 cm. Paper booklet, cover lightly soiled with edge wear, fair. (7917) $26.00.  Religious

Zion's Advocate, Vol. IX No. 376, Wednesday, January 20, 1836 Portland, ME: Adam Wilson, Editor and Proprietor. Missionary report from Armenia; The Dying Mother; Anecdote about Chief Justice Marshall; in U.S. Congress, appeals for abolition of slavery; Dr. Channing on Slavery. 4 pp. 39 x 54 cm. Newspaper, edges creased, small tears where folds intersect, address "Cap M. Woodman, N. Gloucester" on top edge. Good. History (4380) $26.00.

Zion's Advocate, Vol. IX No. 405, Wednesday, August 10, 1836 Portland, ME: Adam Wilson, Editor and Proprietor. Death of Capt. Buck at Bucksport; Battle in Georgia between Creeks and Georgia troops--5 whites, maybe 30 Indians, killed. Missionary report from Below Gawakati (India). 4 pp. 39 x 54 cm. Newspaper, edges creased, small tears where folds intersect, address "Cap M. Woodman, N. Gloucester" on top edge. Good. History (4385) $26.00.

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