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Local History

Gnomes Help Santa

Beginning November 10, 1935, the Springfield Leader & Press began a campaign to assure Springfield children that Santa really does exist. The newspaper started with a letter to Santa contest and then proceeded to hire Captain F. E. Kleinschmidt, an arctic explorer, to travel to the North Pole.

Captain Kleinschmidt sent in-depth descriptions of his travels, complete with photographs, to the newspaper. Once he and his wife reached the North Pole, he gave an exhaustive account of all the wonderful, magical things in Santa’s workshop. This culminated in Santa visiting Springfield by train and an appearance at the Electric Theater (later known as the Fox Theater) and a movie by Captain Kleinschmidt. The following article is edited due to its length.

Santa's Fairies Busily Working -- Explorers are Admitted to Palace and Workshop Where Toys are Made.

Springfield Leader & Press, November 29, 1935, page 4.

 "After a difficult and dangerous journey on behalf of child readers of the Springfield Newspapers, Captain and Mrs. P. E. Kleinschmidt, have actually reached the true and magic home of Santa Claus in the far, far, white north.

"Here is another report by wireless from Captain Kleinschmidt, describing their adventures in Santa's castle:

"We traveled what seemed miles and miles through the gigantic gift shop, but never grew tired looking for there is always something new and marvelous in the toys Santa invents for every Christmas.

"Finally, Santa said 'Now let us start at the bottom,' and he led the way to a moving stairway. Descending we had glimpses of floor after floor of all kinds of rooms where armies of gnomes and fairies were working, shaping wood and steel, assembling, molding, painting and packing things.

"At last we came to the bottom. The chief gnome and all his fellow-workers wore engineers' uniforms.

"'This is my great power house,' Santa explained. 'You know about the axis of the earth which points to the Polar Star and on which the world spins around. I have connected my machinery with this axis, and the power that spins the earth drives all my machinery, the lathes and saws and drills, for you know it takes a lot of power to manufacture toys for over 50 million children every year...'

"We went up again, this time on an elevator, and as we passed one floor after another, we noticed instead of numbers the names of different countries. On the top floor we read 'United States' and at a sign from Santa the gnomes stopped the elevator.

"Here was a large room with countless desks on which gnomes were writing in books, like a huge library. But they were not story books. They were ledgers numbered and alphabetically arranged. The room was divided into sections and each section bore the name of a which the deeds of children are recorded from year to year.

"'You are sent from Missouri; and here you are,' Santa laughed and sure enough we found Missouri labeled.

"'Now let's see,' said Santa, and he took a book, turned over the pages and to our amazement there was written 'Springfield Newspapers want to make boys and girls happy in the Ozarks. Send out an expedition to Santa Claus land?' And there were the names of the boys and girls who had written letters in the Santa Claus contest...I glanced over some of the books marked Missouri and there saw the names of hundreds of Springfield children.

"'The world is increasing in population and getting better all the time, and my work grows larger and larger every year,' Santa said. 'It makes me happier the longer I live, but you know,' and Santa's eyes twinkled, 'the children who give me more work and who keep the pens of gnomes the busiest in chalking up good deeds, are the Boy Scouts. Look at that row of books all marked 'Boy Scouts'. Ever since that organization started, I have had to put on a thousand extra gnomes each year.'

"We were getting tired and our eyes and minds were getting sleepy from all the wonderful sights. Mrs. K. wondered where we were going to sleep for the castle certainly never had expected any guests, and the beds we had seen were so tiny no human being could possibly be in them. But Santa had already provided for our needs.

"Gnomes and fairies had prepared fairylike bedrooms and our Eskimos stood gaping in wonder when they beheld their quarters...All at once she [Mrs. Kleinschmit] gave a gasp and sat down on the bed laughing until she could not speak. I could not see anything to laugh at but a beautiful eider down blanket covered with silky lace, until she pointed to the foot of the bed. I examined it closely and above all things the beautiful wrought iron legs were thick colored candy sticks. The bed panels that looked like polished bird's eye maple were taffy full of nuts. What looked like a wonderful mahogany dresser was made of chocolate and the knots were nuts. The mirrors were rock crystal candy. I recalled the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel and the witch who lived in a gingerbread house, but I never, as a grown up man expected to live in a similar house."

To Be Continued...

If you would like to read all of the articles in their entirety, they are available on microfilm at the Library Center.

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