Thursday, December 13, 2012

Repost...Memories of Mary Pulley's Hill!

Mary Pulley's Hill...

American Fork circa 50's-60's...
This story is for all the children who grew up in and around American Fork, Utah during the Mary Pulley years. I have many happy Christmas memories, but there is one I share with thousands of others. This was long before modern drive-by light displays, electronically controlled spectaculars with lights flashing to the rhythm of "Party Rock." or something by Mannheim Steamroller. This light display was something to behold in our low-tech lives. Trees bedecked with countless strands of colored lights surrounded a peaceful nativity scene, carefully painted wooden backdrops large enough in scale to be seen from the street.

Mary Pulley...
Before I continue I want to say a few words about the woman behind the display. Mary Pulley was one of those wonderful women every town should be blessed with. Her long life was filled with service to the community beginning in 1929 when she represented American Fork as our first "Poultry Day" Queen. She presided over the picnic, parade, ball game, races, carnival, program and dance...a very full day indeed. She kept her poise even when a young server at the banquet spilled hot cocoa on her white satin gown. She simply blotted it up and went on with the festivities. Her later photos show a woman of graceful stature and serene demeanor.

A Beloved Tradition Begins...
Miss Pulley began her traditional Christmas display in 1942 as a gift to the children and it continued until her death. Her home was situated at the bottom of a hill on several acres of graceful lawns planted with large trees...the perfect site for a large display. People could easily drive by to see the lights. She brought in Santa Claus to stand at the gate at the end of her driveway and hand out candy-canes and oranges to carloads of children. This gift was considered extraordinarily generous...because this was during that period of war rationing. In the picture above, a local family and Santa are standing next to the sleigh from the Santa can see how large the scale needed to be. I wish there were more pictures. I would love to have one of the display to show you. All I have is my memory...and we know those are unreliable! If anyone wants to share their memories in the comments...I would love that!

A more modern Santa.
A few years ago, some well-meaning folks tried to revive the tradition.
Some things you can't bring back.

A Memory Movie...
I know it's not possible that there was snow every year...but in my memories our car moves slowly in the endless line of vehicles waiting to pass by the display. I can hear the crunch of tires on packed snow...that is...I could if my little brothers and sisters would just settle down for a bit. They bounce about in the old station wagon like balls in a pinball game...getting on Dad's last nerve.

Finally, just as Dad has bluffed for the last time about getting out of line and going home...we pass the last house and trees that conceal the magic. There's plenty of the slow admire the manger scene. To "ooh and ahh" over the lights and enjoy the tinny blast of "Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer" coming through the speakers nailed to trees and power poles. When the vignette of Santa's Sleigh moves into view we grow more and more excited. Santa is there! He's waiting at the end of the drive with treats for each of us. I'm hoping for a candy cane or maybe a small Hershey Bar.

Dad tells us to open our windows. We do so and the frigid air pours into the car. Santa is stamping his frozen feet and steam from his breath "encircles his head like a wreath." We yell out our Christmas wishes like one chaotic fast-food order and receive our long-awaited treat of chocolate marshmallow Santas. I hate marshmallow Santas, but I would never be ungracious to the Big Guy. With a "Merry Christmas" he waved us on.

Update...New Pictures!
Santa's Sleigh

The Nativity
Photos taken in 1958
Shared by Don Hansen

I still have dreams of the downtown stores and businesses of my childhood. My favorites memories of Christmas include the decorations that hung across Main Street.

The Christmas Train!!!

Santa's Sleigh and Tiny Reindeer!
I so wish I could see them again...hometown mainstreets were magical in those days. Still...after a fun family drive to see the lights...we all wanted to end up here...

The Hi-Spot Drive Inn!
When little brother Tommy learned to read...Hi-Spot was his first word! We were so proud! This was not our only family favorite, but I love this picture.

A Cozy Winter Scene...
I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas in American Fork this year!

What are your hometown Christmas memories?

 Post Script...2014

Mary Pulley's Home 2014
 Are Santa's Reindeer waiting patiently for Mary to return?
Photo by Randy Blackburn.


ImagiMeri said...

Pure magic Shirley, thank you for sharing.


Sandy said...

Oh Shirley,
I felt like I was there! How wonderful....Merry Christmas to you and yours!

craftyles said...

I love your memories. Mine is going into the Chicago and seeing the beautiful department store windows, than going into Marshall Fields to see the huge tree and then sit on Santa's lap. Pure magic!

Patti M said...

Oh Shirley what lovely blessed you were...we need more Mary Pulleys in our world today don't we?

Creative Breathing said...

Thank you so much Shirley for these wonderful images and memories. I felt as though I was along for the ride waiting for the window to be rolled down. Wonderful! I also enjoyed your visit to Disneyland. So magical. I love your memories! Elizabeth

vintage grey said...

Such wonderful memories Shirley!! I only wish I had these sweet memories to look back on! I have many to make, though! Love all the photos! xo Heather

LBP said...

You are such a wonderful story teller! I rode right along with you and saw those wonderful Christmas decorations and tasted that marshmallow Santa (that I love). I am blessed to have so many fond Christmas memories. One of my favorite is the smell of coffee on Christmas morning. My grandparents would spend the night with us Christmas Eve with the condition that I would get up at 5:00 a.m. and make Grandpa's coffee. I would set my little alarm and up I would jump and make that coffee. He and I would sit in the kitchen and drink coffee (mine more milk than coffee) and talk until the rest woke up. How I miss those early Christmas morning talks with him!



Lisa Savage Kelly said...

Thank you for such a beautiful trip down memory lane!

Speedy Lady (Tresa) said...

I loved reading this post. Your storytelling is wonderful. My maiden name was Pulley. :)

HK said...

I just found your blog from Pinterest, and I came here to read your Raspberry Jalapeno jelly recipe. I saw your picture of Mary Pulley's house and I had to comment. I was just telling my kids about Mary's house at Christmas! We lived in American Fork until 1989, I had no idea that she did this for so long! It is one of my favorite memories of Christmas as a kid. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Her house looks exactly like I remember it.