Days of Yore
as recounted by

Bill Day



St. Nick

At a meeting of the Haddonfield Business Association in 1948, the problem arose that, if Santa was to come that year to town in an airplane, who would be Santa.

Pop Dingler, the perennial Santa on the Main street every year wouldn't ride in an airplane.  "Pop Johnson (Johnson's Department Store) was told to contact Bill Day, who said he'd do it.

Full page advertisements were in the newspapers all week, announcing Santa's arrival by helicopter.

Santa went to Johnson's store on Saturday morning and donned the beautiful Santa Claus suit Pop had bought.  There was also a big bag full of empty boxes for Santa to carry on his back.  Santa crouched out of sight on the rear floor of Pop's sedan on the ride to the Central Airport where a helicopter was waiting to deliver St. Nick to Haddonfield.

The 'copter came into town above the railroad track route and circled to land on the Presbyterian Church field where a loudspeaker equipped fire engine was waiting to take Santa all over town.  It was estimated that there were 10,000 youngsters there to see Santa arrive and transfer to the fire engine.

The fire apparatus was finally parked on the pavement in front of Johnson's store and sitting on the rear running board Santa sat talking to the small fry until after six o'clock that evening.  Santa could only whisper at that point.  Each youngster had received a toy and a balloon.

Bill thrilled more than one child by calling him or her by name when his or her time came to talk to Santa.  But he had worked in Neumeyer's and knew quite a few of them.  Kenny Moore, for example, had difficulty getting to sleep that night because Santa knew him.

Bill's own older son had Santa worried but he passed through without recognizing him.  Yet two minutes later a tug on Santa's sleeve made him quake for a second.  His son was back, all perturbed, because he had forgotten to tell Santa what his little brother (less than a year old) wanted.

It had been a very successful event for little Judy Warner when Santa addressed her by name as she was telling that she wanted a "Wet Me Wet Doll".  Her mouth flew open and if stayed open in her amazement.

There had been only one flaw in a very memorable day for Santa.  As the 'copter had circled the Presbyterian field, he thought he could step out the transparent plexiglass bubble he was sitting in onto the top of the smokestack at Hand's factory along the railroad and he really wasn't interested in doing this.

He had been waving vigorously all the time from when he first came into sight.  But he suddenly stopped at Hand's smoke stack.  More than one person later asked him why he had stopped waving.  The answer was that he was shaking in his "Santa" boots and not at all interested in having the $175,000 insurance policy cashed in at his expense! Homepage
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