Days Gone By - stories from the past

My ingenious mother had other plans for me at Christmas!


Christmas and Bon Ami

May I explain that I’m not referring to the Bon Ami that we see on our grocery shelves today? That’s a powder to be shaken from a can which has a red and yellow label. (Bon Ami means “good friend.”) The Bon Ami of my early childhood also had a red and yellow label but it was a dry hard bar about 4” by 3” by 2” its main purpose was for cleaning windows. With a very moist cloth, mother rubbed the Bon Ami with two or three strokes and immediately covered our big windows with the “stuff.” It dried quickly and with a clean dry cloth, the glass was polished to perfection.

As the Christmas season approached in Kentucky, it was always bitterly cold–too cold to bother about shiny windows. Everything outside was frozen, but my ingenious mother had other plans for her only child!

She brought out the Bon Ami again

About two weeks before Christmas my mother brought out the Bon Ami bar again. This time she created a snow scene sloping down the lower part of each window like a white hillside. Next came the fun part for me! Standing on a small stool (with mother holding onto my dress to keep me from falling) I could stretch to reach the upper part of each window. Next by touching my tiny index finger to the moist Bon Ami bar, I could make tiny snowflakes – as many as I desired!

This artistic scene remained on the windows until New Years Eve when it was all wiped away. Presto! Clean windows for the New Year! (Thanks to my very clever mother!)

What do you think?

Then there was the Santa Claus question. My parents never told me there was or was not a Santa Claus. They simply answered with a question “What do you think?”

We always had a cedar Christmas tree that my dad had chopped down along the country roadside. One side of the tree he had chosen was always flat and mother had to fit it into a corner. I had always gotten a doll for Christmas, even my very first year. About a week before Christmas I was instructed to get all of my dolls and clean their hard little faces with mother’s cold cream, wash their little dresses, and set the dolls under the Christmas tree to hope for a new doll.

Our village of Rocky Hill had about 150 residents. On one hill was the little one room Baptist Church and on the other hill a little one room Methodist Church. On the Sunday nearest Christmas the two congregations met together to sing Christmas Carols. There was no preacher in the pulpit. We just sang every carol we knew for the entire hour ending with “Silent Night”. This “Sing-Along” echoed over those hills and hollows and in my heart.

Please don’t forget Alabama Pioneers this Christmas season in your gift giving. Monetary donations from you keep this website free!


Shop Amazon Gift Cards – Instant Delivery or Free One-Day Shipping

Did you know that you can gift Kindle books to others?

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS: Settlement: Lost & Forgotten Stories  is a collection of lost and forgotten stories of the first surveyors, traders, and early settlements of what would become the future state of Alabama.

Read about:

    • A Russian princess settling in early Alabama
  • How the early settlers traveled to Alabama and the risks they took
  • A ruse that saved immigrants lives while traveling through Native American Territory
  • Alliances formed with the Native Americans
  • How an independent republic, separate from the United States was almost formed in Alabama

About Joyce Ray Wheeler

Joyce Ray Wheeler was born in Kentucky, but after marriage and two sons she and her husband, Dr. Ruric Wheeler she moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1953. She was a former school teacher for a short while. She was active in the Faculty Wives Club at Samford University and a member of Shades Mountain Baptist Church where she taught Sunday School classes for women for many years. She enjoyed travel, her grandchildren and writing her memories. Joyce passed away November 2. 2012. Her obituary and memorial can be seen at:

Liked it? Take a second to support Alabama Pioneers on Patreon!