EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 22, 2013

An 1899 Christmas story lives on

Haverhill boy's Christmas wishlist may be oldest existing letter to Santa Claus


That record still stands, Tom Howard of the academy confirmed in an email to The Eagle-Tribune. The Miami, Fla.-based World Record Academy, a member of Google News Network, promotes itself on its website as “the leading international organization which certify world records.”

Meanwhile, another ancient “Dear Santa” letter — written by a 7-year-old child from London, Ontario in 1915 — captured national attention earlier this month on the ABC television network program Good Morning America.

“Will you please send me a box of paints, also a nine cent reader, and a school bag to put them in,” Homer Mellen wrote in his letter. “And if you have any nuts, or candy, or toys to spare, would you kindly send me some.”

Homer’s son, Larry Mellen, 79, shared the letter with Good Morning America, to show how many children of today take Christmas for granted because they receive so many more gifts.

Twelve years older than the world record

“Harry Hyland’s letters are 12 years older than the current record holder,” Blanchette said in an interview.

Blanchette, a 1963 graduate of St. Patrick’s Grammar School in Lawrence, received his diploma four years later from Austin Preparatory School in Reading. He recalled his mother — the late Nancy Hyland Blanchette — gave him an old folder about 15 years ago which contained his grandfather’s grammar school papers. She had received the folder from her mother or father — Harry Hyland — who died in May 1963.

The old folder, about an inch thick, contained a stack of more than 60 pages — math exercises, art work, spelling exercises — most with “Wingate School” hand written along with grade levels (3rd, 4th and 5th grade).

Included was the “Dear Santa” letter written on lined paper, 6.75 inches wide and 8.5 high, bearing “a more “fibrous” texture than the paper we use today.”

“Please bring me a football, an air rifle and a golf stick,” the young boy wrote in neat, cursive penmanship. He signed it, “Your little friend, Harry W. Highland.”

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