Christmas is not a just day. Instead, it is a 12 day celebration that begins (in some traditions) on December 25th and continues for 12 days (until January 6th). As a reminder, we have the 12 Days of Christmas carol.
For each of the 12 days of Christmas, I will be posting one event / person from my genealogical research that relates (sometimes in a rather convoluted way) to the particular gift of that day in The 12 Days of Christmas. If you wish to peruse the entire schedule, check previous posts for Days 1-6 and Days 7 – 12.
Dec. 29 – Four Collie Birds (Day 4)
No! Not “calling” birds (whatever they might be). The original lyrics of this carol has “collie birds” which were simply blackbirds. Perhaps you remember the Beatles song, Blackbird: “Blackbird singing in the dead of night / Take these broken wing and learn to fly / All your life / you were only waiting for this moment to arise.” Paul McCartney writes: “Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us? cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope. “ Who among your ancestors has taken “broken wings and learn[ed] to fly? or Who has cared passionately enough to do something about those who are learning to fly with broken wings?
This post repeats most of a post from 2010.
Julia Huffman (nee Brenner), my great-grandaunt, was quite a remarkable woman. In 1927, she began working as the first woman truant officer for the Youngstown (Ohio) public schools. Her obituary in the Youngstown Vindicator remarked that “her willingness to help [youngsters] with their problems, real and imagined, forged a bond of respect between youth and the image of authority she represented.”
Her concern for young people (especially girls and young women) was more than just her job, it appeared to be her calling. She helped organize the first Camp Fire Girls group on Youngstown’s South Side. During the Great Depression she helped organize the Young Ladies’ Opportunity Club, aimed at self-betterment and she campaigned for the development of a neighborhood Playground Association. She was active in Big Sisters and the Women’s relief Corps. As the daughter of an immigrant, she taught Americanization classes to recent immigrants.
In her mid-70s, she was still well-known by the children in her neighborhood for her annual Easter Egg Tree. Throughout the year, when baking she didn’t break the eggs, but blew out the contents and saved the shells. She then dyed the egg shells a wide variety of colors and would hang them outside on a tree for all to see.
Julia Brenner Huffman was a remarkable woman… a non-conformist, an organizer, a champion for young people (and especially young women and truants).