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Smithsburg celebrates Hometown Christmas

December 15, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

SMITHSBURG ? There was "Ho Ho Ho" in the air Saturday at Smithsburg Hometown Christmas. But there also was the sound of sneezing and coughing from participants as well as those attending the all-day festival.

Typically the Christmas season coincides with the cold and flu season. And then there was the dismal forecast of approaching snow and freezing rain.

Whichever was to blame, the crowds were somewhat diminished by one or the other at Saturday's event.

The good news is that those who did venture out seemed to be having a good time. Caroling in the square was attracting some attention.

Mike Rohrer was all alone manning the display of Toys of Christmas Past at the Smithsburg Historical Society museum at 20 E. Water St.

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"And I have a bad cold myself," Rohrer said. President of the historical society, Rohrer was there all alone when the museum doors opened at 9 a.m. due to illnesses in the society ranks.

For a while, there were few visitors as well. But then word spread and a number of people ventured in to see what toys were on display.

Rohrer brought in his Matchbox car collection and a set of Lincoln Logs. But far and away, the biggest contribution to the collection of toys from yesteryear came from Virginia Shaver Harshman.

In her late 80s, Harshman donated her childhood toys to the Smithsburg Historical Society, where they are on display in a glass case and on the counters in a front room at the museum.

"That's for kids to see what toys were like back in the dark ages," she said in a September interview.

Lucile Soper came to see the toys as a Smithsburg resident and a member of the historical society.

"There are wind-up toys and wooden toys, all sorts," Soper said. The display brought memories of Soper's toy sewing machine and toy oven.

Harshman's cousin by marriage, Barbara Starliper of Funkstown, came to see the toys with her husband, Dave Starliper.

Inside the glass case was a letter Virginia Shaver wrote to Santa Claus in 1929. Starliper read it aloud as the words of a then-young girl came alive again nearly 80 years later.

She mentioned several specific items, then added her own spin by reminding Santa that she wanted the best he could bring her. At the end of the letter, she relented and simply requested he do the best he could do.

Some of Harshman's dolls and books also were on display at the museum. But it was the simple wooden toys that ran on gravity, rubber bands or kid power that got the most attention Saturday.

Another pleaser was a large button on a string held with one end in each hand. When swung in a circle and then pulled from both ends, the button moved from side to side.

There were firetruck rides, a live Nativity at Trinity Lutheran Church, and tree decorating. All ended up with a Christmas party for kids at the Smithsburg Fire Hall.

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