SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 5, 2013

Santa skips the sleigh

By Alan Burke
Staff Writer

---- — PEABODY — Santa Claus is coming to town. And Mrs. Claus will be with him.

It’s all part of the Downtown Holiday Festival on Saturday. The fun starts at 11 a.m. at Peabody Institute Library on Main Street with the Peabody High School Chorale leading Christmas caroling. Santa is expected to show up on a fire truck (the reindeer are no doubt resting up in preparation for their big night). The jolly old fellow will greet the kids in the lower level of the Knights of Columbus Hall.

Kids can expect something to eat and a goodie bag.

“I look forward to seeing lots of smiling faces,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt informed the News. The festival is co-sponsored by the Peabody Downtown Association and, he added, it’s “a great way to get into the spirit of the season.”

Pixelated

The latest example from the world of tomorrow happened when the old-style static billboard gracing the grounds of the Northshore Mall suddenly began twinkling electronically, offering brightly illuminated images that change every few seconds and tell us what to buy and where to buy it.

How does this happen after billboard lawyers originally described it as a static display? Well, said City Clerk Tim Spanos, there isn’t anything in the bylaws to prevent the change. Most of the billboards going up can be changed to digital simply by getting the OK from the state.

The state, meanwhile, abides by rules that insist on placing billboards a set distance from each other, 1,000 feet for digital, 500 for static.

What? Were you brought up in a barn?

Well, it wasn’t this barn. You’ll be keeping the door closed even without mom’s urging at the Peabody Art Association’s “Art in the Barn.” Yes, it’s at Brooksby Farm’s Smith Barn on 38 Felton St., but don’t expect to be dismayed by cows, horses, pigs or any of their by-products. Instead, you’ll find paintings, photographs, crafts, cards and more.

It’s all decorated for the holidays, as well, and the Peabody High School Chorale will provide carols to maintain the holiday atmosphere. Admission is free on this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. If your holiday spending urge still isn’t satisfied once you’ve gone, the farm store is open from the 1 to 3 p.m.

Greetings

For that matter, greeting cards, which are currently the subject of an exhibit at the Peabody Historical Society’s Cassidy Museum and Gideon Foster House on Washington Street. Peabody residents — and these are all cards sent to or from Peabody residents — have been mailing greeting cards for a long time. This collection goes back more than 100 years.

Back then, notes curator Heather Leavell, the cards could function somewhat in the way Facebook does today, including all the personal information that the sender wants the world to know. Further, the cards came all year long, on Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries. Some were made commercially, with post cards favored in the early 20th century.

“Some were huge,” Leavell said.

At times, they were so elaborate — even decorated in lace, for example — that there was little space for a message. And people thought it sensible to reuse the cards. “We have a Valentine’s Day card that’s been reused,” Leavell said. “The little girl crossed off the name of one girl and put on another. Some of the cards have really sweet notes on them.”

Admission is free. The exhibit, “Greetings From Peabody,” can be seen until May from Tuesday to Friday, 10 to 3 p.m. and on the first and third Sunday of the month from noon to 3 p.m. “It’s a way to connect to the people back then,” Leavell said.