Collections Corner: Earl’s letter to Santa

Letter to Santa from Earl, page 1

Letter to Santa from Earl, page 1

The letter to Santa is a time-honored tradition, in which children are expected to prove that their good behavior over the past year justifies their list of desired presents. The tradition extends to many countries; some children mail their letters through the post office to a special North Pole mailbox; others put the letters in the chimney for Santa to find. These days online templates are available to help craft the perfect request.

This letter to Santa from “Earl” was discovered in History San Jose’s collection, and is full of classic toys including a spinning top, model train, and rocking horse. Earl certainly has a long list of presents he’d like from Santa; he says he’s “tried” to be a good boy, and he’s used the most important word, “please.” How would you rate Earl’s efforts? Should he have put in a few kind words for Mrs. Claus? Will Santa overlook his spelling errors? Does he really need that much candy?

Earl’s Letter to Santa transcription

Dear Santa Clause Please bring me a indain doll and a engine that will run on the track and a rocking horse and bring me a jumping jack and bring me a top that when i spin it it will sing and bring me a box of fire crackers and a little house full of candy with a little door so when I want to eat some of the candy I can get it out. I would like to have a box of little round candies so when I eat all of the candy up out of the house I can have some more and I want some pretty red and blue stripped marbles Santa Clause I have tried to be a good boy this year From your little boy Earl. and bring me a horn

Letter to Santa from Earl, page 2

Letter to Santa from Earl, page 2

Letter to Santa from Earl, page 3

Letter to Santa from Earl, page 3

History’s recipes: Birthday cake from 1877

historic birthday cake recipe

Annie Fallon’s birthday cake

On Saturday, November 21, 2015, we proudly celebrated the 238th birthday of the City of San José at the Peralta Adobe-Fallon House Historic Site. We offered festive crafts for kids, hands-on activities, and an opportunity to learn about the people who lived in these historic homes.

In the Fallon House, we offered a special family-friendly tour, leading visitors through a day in the life of Annie, Thomas and Carmel Fallon’s beloved daughter. Visitors were introduced to children’s birthday celebrations during the 1800s when Thomas and Carmel Fallon lived in the home, complete with a real cake to celebrate Annie’s birthday.

The cake was made from an historic recipe from this exact time period. Looking to make your own historic cake? Look no further! You will find the recipe below:

Birthday Cake Adapted from Buckeye Cookery, 1877

Preheat oven to 350. Line two 8-inch cake pans with paper.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
5 egg whites, beaten to a froth

Cream butter and sugar; add flour and milk alternately until well blended. Stir in baking powder. Add whatever flavoring desired* (2 teaspoons lemon extract, 2 teaspoons raspberry extract, or 2 squares of melted unsweetened chocolate). Stir in egg whites.

Divide into cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Cake will begin to pull away from sides of pan when done. Cook and frost as desired.

*For Annie’s birthday cake, we used 2 teaspoons vanilla extract to flavor the batter, and we used vanilla and lemon frosting.

Adapted from Buckeye Cookery, 1877 by Judy Jabaay, supervisor at Flynn Mansion (

Special thanks to History San José Program Interpreter Tori Bohnett for her baking skills!

Empire Firehouse exhibit development

Empire Firehouse being painted

A new coat of paint for the Empire Firehouse interior

We have been hard at work creating a new exhibit space in the Empire Firehouse at History Park.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Farrington Historical Foundation, Inc., and the wonderful donors who raised their paddles at our annual Valley of Heart’s Delight dinner, we began Phase I of exhibit development.

This support has allowed us to hire S2 Associates Inc., a professional exhibit design firm, to build an outstanding interactive exhibit to serve not only children who attend our programs at History Park, but the community at large.

Empire Firehouse exhibit planning

HSJ staff and members of the San Jose Fire Museum show our collective ideas during the Stakeholders Workshop.

Exhibit concept designs will be revealed at our Children’s Holiday Festival on December 5. Please join us for this family-friendly event and vote on your favorite exhibit design!

Thank you! Your generous gifts make this progress possible!

Annual Heritage Holiday Champagne Tea at History Park on December 12, 2015

Enjoy a Fancy Tea in the Renzel Room at History Park Decorated for the Holidays.

History San José’s annual Heritage Holiday Champagne Tea will be held again this year in the Renzel Room of the Pacific Hotel at History Park on Saturday, December 12 with seatings at 11:00am and 2:00pm.

The Heritage Holiday Champagne Tea continues the tradition of an elegant tea, followed by docent-led tours of select historic homes in History Park decorated for the holiday season.

Satori Tea Company will present special blends of tea especially for this Heritage Holiday event. The teas will accompany a gourmet-catered light luncheon that includes scones, tea sandwiches, and various tea fancies. Guglielmo Wines will provide the champagne served by Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Seatings for the tea are at 11:00am and at 2:00pm. Tickets are $45 per person for non-members/$40 for HSJ members until November 20th. After November 20th, tickets will be $50 per person/$45 for HSJ members. To make your reservation, please call Juanita Lara at 408.918.1045 or email to

Visit for more details or call 408.918.1049.

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