December 1922

December 8th, 2023

By John Marks, Curator

I wanted to look at what was going on in December 1923. I had to settle for 1922, as the website  only has digitized newspapers up to August 1923. Most of the items I mention here came from the December 23 issue of the Geneva Daily Times.

Newspaper headline postal deficitI was amused by the front-page article about the United States Postal System’s deficit. The second sub-heading stated, “Comes as shock to those who thought department was self-sustaining.” I think it would shock people today that the post office deficit situation has been around for over 100 years.

Next to the official Christmas message from the Times publishers about Christian love and harmony was an editorial titled, “Americanism First.” It cited a business prediction that 1923 growth would be limited by the almost-fully employed work force. Some argued for relaxing immigration rules to bring in more workers. The editor wrote, “Americans all like prosperity, but most Americans do not want it at the cost of taking a new lot of raw material again into our human melting pot before the raw material already here is melted. A moderate degree of material prosperity seems preferable to hectic booms, if booms have to be paid for by sacrificing Americanism to alienism.”

Newspaper headline baskets full of christmas good cheerElsewhere in the paper was a report on local charity efforts. “The Geneva branch of the Salvation Army will celebrate Christmas by giving baskets of good things to the poor and unfortunate of the city. These baskets will contain one chicken, bread, butter, tea, canned goods and everything else that goes to make up a good Christmas dinner. No one need be without some cheer this Yuletide.”

On the same page was an announcement of a Christmas day carol event. “The community Christmas tree which has annually been erected by the Park Board has been put in its usual position at the intersection of Castle and Exchange streets and duly decorated and trimmed with different colored electric lights….on Christmas afternoon it is to be the center of attraction when a carol song service will be held around it.” Kiwanis and Rotary club members were leading the singing, and churches and Sunday School classes were encouraged to come.

Newspaper headline Community Christmas tree carol singingThe December 1922 newspapers were full of Christmas shopping ads. You can go to for the Geneva Daily Times and see what was popular back then. I’ll just mention one item in particular. The latest invention – radio – was carried only by one store (at least based on ads).

In May 1922 President Warren Harding gave the first presidential speech broadcast on the radio. By December there were over 500 radio stations in the US. Listeners had to use primitive receivers and headphones. Radios with speakers and wooden cases weren’t made until several years later.

H.J. Stead on Linden Street was the only store advertising the new technology. It enticed shoppers with a list of Christmas programs broadcast from “Pittsburgh, Newark, Schenectady, and other points brought right into your home with one of our many inexpensive receiving sets.” The store also sold parts for do-it-yourself builders.

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