It’s a seasonal story with a twist – written by Mary Lee Tucker herself – from the front page of the December 21, 1946 Lorain Journal. The heartwarming article reveals how Mrs. Idella Holzhauer of Lorain had the unique privilege of being the city’s only female Santa Claus.
She looks like a pretty good one too – much better than many of the (ugh) ‘realistic’ Santas you see with real beards that have been the unfortunate trend for many years.
Here’s the text of the entire article (below).
of Two Generations in Lorain
Continues to Find Some Questions Puzzlers
BY MARY LEE TUCKER
What do little folks ask Santa Claus when he greets them at parties, in stores and on the streets around holiday time?
Ask Mrs. Idella Holzhauer, 329 W. 26th-st, Lorain’s only woman Santa who has been repeating stories about the North Pole, the reindeers and the traditional chimney for the entertainment of Lorain boys and girls many years.
Mrs. Holzhauer’s role is a precarious one. Every word must be ad libbed while her manner, too, and attitude are scrutinized minutely. Christmas is a time of infinite hope, suspense and sometimes tears; The stock question is, of course, “Are you REALLY Santa Claus?”
• • •SHE’S CAGEY WITH HER RESPONSES
“Well,” counters the Lorain woman, with excellent Christmas psychology, “what do you think?”
She never makes a positive promise and rarely a definitive statement. “I’ll see what my helpers can do about that,” she’ll say, or “I’ll try, but you know some things are rationed, even for Santa.”
Her most difficult request was a recurring one for the war years – “Please bring daddy home to us.”
According to Mrs. Holzhauer, who has had three children of her own, two girls and a boy, some of the most common questions asked by youngsters are: “Where’s your reindeers, Santa? Do you have a workshop? Where is your workshop where you make your toys? Do you have to stay up all night? How do you get down the chimney? Where are you in the summer time? Don’t you ever get cold?”
She will tell you that she started playing Santa Claus for her own little daughter, Janice, who died in infancy.
Later, she donned a Kris Kringle suit and was Santa for her daughter, Ladonna, and her son, George, better known as “Corky.” Both are now grown.
This Lorain St. Nick treats all children as her own. She draws them to her naturally, knows when to pick up a little boy or girl and when not to. The very young ones, sometimes afraid at first, she lets accustom themselves to her before she gently takes them on her knee or shakes their hands.
The hardest thing she has to do is to pare the modest list of a child whose parents can obviously give her little. A hundred times she has had to deny the impulse to reach into her own pocket, or to stride over to a toy counter and sweep it clean for a threadbare little boy or girl.
If, surrounded by the wonders of a modern toy department, a child asks for too much, Santa says, “Do you think you really need all of those things?” If he insists, Santa asks, “What about all the other little boys in the world? They want presents, too, and my helpers are very busy.” This appeal to the child’s better nature is nearly always successful.
• • •Turn Back Pages of Time
Mrs. Joseph Wozniak, 550 5th-st remembers when St. Nick (Mrs. Holzhauer) used to visit her home around Christmas time. More recently she played Santa to Mrs. Wozniak’s daughter, Mildred.
“And I am going to keep my suit and whiskers handy for many years to come because I love being Santa Claus,” says the Lorain woman whose crinkles around her dancing blue eyes affect exactly the right mixture of humor, kindness and mischief to make her an ideal Santa. She wears no mask, only mustache and whiskers.
This holiday season has been a busy one for the Lorain woman who was Santa Claus at all the Mary Lee Tucker Christmas parties – for the children at the Lorain-co home, the old folks at the Lorain-co infirmary, at the benefit Mary Lee Tucker show, in Lorain schools and churches.
She doesn’t charge for her services. On the contrary, she frequently spends her own money on the youngsters – makes them popcorn balls. And when the children from the Oberlin home came down last week-end as guests of Mary Lee Tucker she slipped a popcorn ball in the hand of each little boy and girl to eat on the return home by bus.
****Idella Holzhauer lived to the ripe old age of 96, passing away on May 12, 1995. The newspaper account of her death noted that she had been awarded a plaque by Lorain Mayor Alex Olejko for her 95th birthday on New Year's Day 1994.
Surprisingly, her obituary made no mention of her role as Lorain’s female Santa Claus, or the happiness she brought to countless local children.