Days Gone By - stories from the past

Santa Claus was shot? A very memorable Christmas

A Traumatic and Memorable Christmas


Joe McKnight

One Christmas in my early childhood stands out as both traumatic and memorable.

We lived at the time at 1825 Franklin Street on the north side of Selma, Ala. That area of the city was not heavily populated at that time. A vacant city lot stood between us and the next house to the South toward downtown. Otherwise, land around us was mostly farmed by the Methodist Children’s Home.


Christmas 1932

It was Christmas Day, 1932. I was seven years old. My parents maintained the mystique of childhood Christmases for the benefit of my three-year-old sister.

Dad worked as a city policeman. On Dec. 24, 1932, it fell his lot to work an overnight shift, 11 p.m. until 7 a.m.

It was just breaking day Christmas morning when my sister and I were awakened by loud noises at the front of our house. I quickly realized that we heard gun shots and both my sister and I ran to investigate.

Dad stood on the front porch pointing his police service revolver at the sky.

You shot Santa Claus

“I think I just shot the rascal,” he said as we rushed onto the porch. “He was just leaving the house with a sack on his shoulder.

“I chased him but he jumped into a sled hitched to reindeer and got away.”

Of course, my sister and I panicked.

“You shot Santa Claus,” my sister wailed.

Mom stood inside the front door as we both broke into tears. How could Dad do such a thing?

Dad quickly realized that maybe he had overdone the theatrics.

He said maybe he didn’t hit the man. He insisted that he thought he had interrupted some one robbing our house.

Still with gun in hand, he searched the un-paved street for evidence of a robbery.

“I don’t see anything but the ruts that sled left,” he said. “There’s no blood and no scraps of cloth. But he had on a red suit and if I had hit him, some blood or some scrap from his red shirt would be out here.”

Did he leave gifts?

We began to calm down and Mom suggested we see if Santa had left any gifts.

The trauma started to fade.

I found a pair of new leather boots that laced almost up to my knees. More importantly, one boot had a pocket on one side that held a two-blade pocket knife.

Then I found an air rifle, a real shooting iron.

I don’t recall what my sister received but I became one happy little boy.

Written December 14, 2013 by Joe McKnight

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They felt the lure of the frontier and struck out for unknown territory that would become Alabama, bringing with them only very few implements to survive. From Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and many other states they came to settle in the newly opened Mississippi Territory. Alabama Footprints Pioneers continues the series with lost and forgotten stories of the earliest Alabama pioneers.


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