An old-time Ford Christmas

Peter Winnewisser |


— Ford News, Dec. 8, 1923
 
From 1910 to 1942, the spirit of Christmas was always apparent in the pages of Ford’s in-house publications, Ford Times and Ford News. Ford Times, for example, featured Santa holding a Model T Ford on the cover of the December 1913 issue, and a stocking with a Model T stuffed in it appeared on the cover of the December 1916 issue. The cover of the December 1914 issue showed a boy hanging up his Christmas list by the fireplace. Inside, there was a greeting to more than 1 million readers “with the earnest wish that they and theirs may surely enjoy ‘A Merry Christmas.’”

The front cover of the Dec. 15, 1930, Ford News featured a Model A
coupe with packages on the shelf behind the seat.

“To glance from the window Christmas morning, to see outside a Ford car,   
polished black finish contrasting smartly with white snow, to dash out for the first   
spin, knowing that it is only the beginning of a joyous possession — such will be the  
experience of the happy recipient.

“And there is another side — the joy of giving and bringing happiness to others   
which hardly can be expressed better than with a Ford present.”

In its Dec. 8, 1921, issue, Ford News proclaimed that “There are more Ford cars given as presents at Christmas than any other make and, decorated with a holly wreath and a flash of ribbon, they make the most desirable present from every standpoint.” The following year, the bi-weekly Ford publication focused on the Christmas Goodfellow Club through which dealers, aided by prominent business men in each community, set out to provide each needy family with a Christmas basket.

In addition to a couple of items on Christmas safety and three poems, the Dec. 22, 1922, issue of Ford News included an announcement that the Ford Motor Co.’s broadcasting station, WWI, would present a special Christmas program on Dec. 20 featuring the Ford band, with orchestra numbers and Christmas chimes, plus Christmas carols sung by a quartet of the station’s favorite artists.

The Dec. 22, 1923, Ford News featured a story of the true Christmas spirit demonstrated by the employees of a Sacramento Calif., dealer. It is, said Ford News, “a narrative of the big hearts to be found beneath the grease-soiled jumpers of garage mechanics.”

The essence of the story involved a battered Ford car, which was wrecked by an elderly man while passing through to San Jose to visit his sole surviving relative. The old man crawled out from under the wreck and figured he would have to walk the rest of the way. The wrecking crew from the Ford agency picked up the car and brought it down to the shop. The verdict was that it would take $150 to put the car back on the road, an amount the man did not have. The mechanics  guessed “maybe if they would give him a few dollars for the wreck, he wouldn’t have to walk to San Jose.”

The next morning, without any previous arrangement, the mechanics turned up on the job early and started in on the wreck. One man supplied a radiator, others different needed parts. After a few hours, they completed the rebuilding, filled the tank with gas and sent the old man on his way with a fond wish for “a happy Christmas in San Jose.”

In addition to Christmas greetings to readers, the Dec. 15, 1924, issue of Ford News carried the following announcement: “For the first time, genuine Ford accessories are available for Christmas gifts. They are appropriately packed in tastefully decorated holly packages for this purpose. These accessories, all introduced within the past year, are: tire repair kit; rear view mirror; windshield wiper; dash light; and the emergency kit.”

Approved Ford V-8 accessories make great Christmas gifts.
(Ford News, December 1937.)

A sampling of Ford News issues shows that the Christmas theme was continued by the company well into the period before World War II. The Dec. 15, 1930, issue of Ford News, for example, featured a 1931 coupe with Christmas gifts. In 1932 and again in 1934, 1936 and 1937, the last page of each December issue was devoted to a Christian look at the significance of Christmas.

Mindful of the importance of attractive window displays, the Ford Motor Co. frequently reminded dealers to keep their showroom, store windows and parts displays eye-appealing and well-ordered. The company used both Ford News editorials and letters to dealers to point out the importance of attractive and well-arranged displays, and did not hesitate to stress bad, as well as good, examples.

For example, a Dec. 1, 1926, Ford News editorial bemoaned the lack of understanding of the art of displaying wares in windows by many dealers.

“Another favorite offense against common sense is the overstuffed interior scene with a Ford car driving out of the fireplace. Not only is the idea intrinsically poor, but nine-tenths of the display is usually devoted to furniture.”
On the positive side, a picture in the same issue shows the Christmas window of G.T. O’Maley, a Kansas City Ford dealer. The display featured a Model T coupe with a large ribbon on the side, the Ford emblem highlighted above it, candles and a sign, “Give them a Ford car for Christmas. A lasting gift for the entire family.” This display was presented as an example of good taste and restraint in trimming.

A two-page spread in the Dec. 1, 1930, issue of Ford News featured seven photos of Ford dealer showrooms at holiday time. One window presented a decorated Christmas tree, a snow-covered Model A tudor and Ford accessories spread on the floor nearest the window as suggested Christmas gifts.

“Do your window shopping early,” read the sign in the window. Another photo featured two 1929 models flanking a decorated Christmas tree. Elsewhere, a Charleston, S.C., dealer placed Santa in a drop-top Model A next to a cabin for an effective window display.

In these examples, as in all dealer and branch displays, the intent was to capture the notice of the person walking by and, hopefully, tickle their curiosity enough to entice them into the show room for a chat with a salesman.

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The front cover of the Dec. 1916 Ford Times used a Model T stuffed in a stocking for its “Universal Christmas” theme.

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