Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, December 23, 2018, pg. 4

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to my readers of this column. I thank you for your support of Albion history materials over the past year that have made this column possible. If you have Albion photographs, yearbooks, city directories, and other Albion stuff you don't want anymore, please contact me. It's fun to sort through and add these items to my Albion history archives for my research, writing and display projects. You can contact me at Albionfp@hotmail.com, or (517) 629-5402.

How many of our readers have been part of a school Christmas or Holiday pageant or play in Albion? This week we're featuring one such pageant that occurred many years ago at the Washington Gardner Grade School. Before Harrington School was built, the east wing of Washington Gardner High School served as an elementary school.

This Christmas pageant was held on December 12, 1939 at the start of World War II. I tried looking up any information about it in the 1939-40 school year yearbook which unfortunately only covered junior high onwards. No mention was made in the monthly Breeze newspapers of the time, either. No mention of it was found in local news articles on microfilm of the Albion Evening Recorder during that period. The one thing I have about this play is an incredible photograph of the cast which is worth mentioning.

This photo comes from the estate of Elizabeth "Betty" Clymer, 5th grade teacher at Gardner Grade School at the time, via her daughter Carol. She taught in the Albion Public Schools for many years as Betty King, who married local funeral director Kenneth King in 1940. Betty passed away in 1991.

Christmas Play, Dec 12, 1939, Gardner Grade School

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the cast. My first reaction was that this pageant looks like a combination of the holidays of Halloween and Christmas together. In the foreground we see the traditional manger scene complete with wise men and shepherds. In the background however, we see several spooky-looking "angels" hovering around the cast. The way they look, they appear to want to say, "boo!" Somehow this image doesn't seem to quite "fit" the Christmas theme. Could these be the ghosts of Christmas past? (wrong play) It must have been some play, indeed.

Betty wrote some identifications on the back as follows: "Members of my room, in the cast, were: Jack Butters and John Cleveland--Shepherds; Parker PickensóWise Man; and Jane EwbankóAngel."

I hope you and your family were able to attend some of the Christmas and holiday events that have occurred over the past few weeks in our area. Enjoy this week with your family and loved ones. Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!


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