Memories Our Christmas Display – Then and Now
by Scarlett Minton
Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I guess it went back to when I was a small child and my father, Gerald Whitton, had an elaborate Christmas display. Everything in the display was hand made by my father and the display began in 1937, in Lewisville, Indiana. It originally began as a window display and attracted so much attention, that he moved itoutdoors. Each year a new piece was added.
I was one of six children, and everyone had a job to do to make it successful. My job was to stand out in the cold and pick up cedar which my father cut to use with the lights. As I grew a little older I had to take my turn at running the Victrola and making sure that music continued throughout the evening. This display continued for several years, except for two years during World War II when the government banned outdoor displays.
One of the principal units was a replica of the famous Canterbury Cathedral in England. It was added to the display in 1940, the year that I was born. The Cathedral was built in 3 sections, with the last part being added in 1941. The Cathedral was built of plywood and scrap material and is
5ft. tall and 6 ft. long. It has 133 windows, outlined with black paint and painted inside with thin colored lacquer, to represent stained glass windows.
My mother gave the Cathedral to Bob and I before she passed in 2003. Bob restored the Cathedral by painting it and restoring some of the windows, although most of the windows are still the original painting.
People from all 48 contiguous states of the unnion and some foreign countries were registered during the display years at my parents home. The little town of Lewisville in latter years covered the cost of the electricity that was used. Many people thought Dad should take up a collection, which was not something he wanted to do. However, a money box was put up and the money was split between the three churches in town, one of which was a Presbyterian Church. Dad had nothing to do with the box, church representatives from the three churches collected the money.
Bob built a platform for the Cathedral, so it can easily be rolled in and out of our garage. We display it through December when the weather is fitting, so as not to ruin the glass windows. We do this as a tribute to both my Mom and Dad.
Bob Minton is a graduate of Paoli High School and graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Agriculture. He received a MS degree from Syracuse University in Science. He taught at Lewisville, Manilla, and Noblesville Schools, before retiring in 1999.
Scarlett Minton is a graduate of Lewisville High School in and attended Indiana Central College. She worked as an optometric technician for C. Dana Meyer, Optometrist for 28 years.
Bob and Scarlett have attended this First Presbyterian Church for 52 years and have been members for 51years.
We hope that many of you can stop by and see our Cathedral. We are located at 662 Woodview Dr. Noblesville.