Home AloneOn December 22, 2021 by Elyse
‘Tis the season for not only reindeer, grinches and magical snowmen but also fearless children, negligent parents and dumb thieves. “Home Alone” may not be the first Christmas movie that comes to mind, but it turns out there’s a long and storied tradition of children left alone around the holidays matching wits against would-be robbers.
If you too find yourself abandoned by your family and face to face with an unwelcome intruder this holiday season, Second Glance History has some proven strategies to reclaim your house—and if needed, your Christmas presents.
You catch more flies with honey, as shown by this heartwarming tale about child neglect and capitalist greed:
A “Christmas burglar with a heart” heeded the pleas of Ruth Mailey, aged 10, not to take her Christmas presents when she found him in her home yesterday noon, on her return from school for lunch. The burglar was eating her lunch which had been left by her mother before going down town shopping.
Never mind personal safety, family heirlooms or even proper nutrition. Ruth clearly has her priorities straight: presents or bust.
He took her to the parlor and played little jingles and Christmas songs for her. When she told him she would have to return to school he said: “Tell your mother I’ll return some day and steal everything in the house,” but he left without taking anything.– The Abbeville Press and Banner, December 24, 1920
According to another account:
Ruth decided he was a “nice burglar,” for she begged him not to take her Christmas presents, which her mother had placed in a closet, and he never touched them.– The Omaha Daily Bee, December 23, 1920
I was already questioning little Ruth’s sanity for confronting a burglar, but now, I think she needs immediate psychological care. What kind of a kid knows where their presents are hidden and doesn’t peek? (Mom, if you’re reading, don’t worry, I never did—but only because you put them on the top shelf.)
Dress for battle.
Noisily trooping downstairs, clad only in their “nighties” and with their hearts in their throats, three small sons of J. R. Martin, 3328 Second avenue S, routed a burglar that had entered their home last night and bagged $100 worth of silver. The boys are all under 14 years of age.
Forget underwear and capes: Real heroes wear nighties.
The boys were just getting ready for bed when they heard someone prowling about in the kitchen below. The boys’ parents were at church, but undaunted by the possibility of a mixup with a burglar, the children went downstairs to see who the intruder was.
At least the Martin parents stayed in the same country as their children. I’m looking at you, McCallisters.
On the way they made as much noise as three youngsters would be expected to make, and when they entered the kitchen the frightened burglar was just disappearing through the pantry window. . . When the boys first heard him he was ransacking the house, and had taken all the silverware from the sideboard.
This he had thrown loosely into a sack, but was compelled to leave it behind. As soon as the marauder had left, the boys locked the window and returned to bed, showing no signs of excitement when they told their parents of their experience.– The Billings Gazette, November 17, 1905
I hope Santa left one of these under their tree that year:
Offer a gift basket.
If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to fancy gift baskets, this story is for you:
If the Christmas burglar that invaded the home of Mrs. Hallie Trosngaar, 4207 N. Lincoln st., yesterday, will come back he can have a well-filled basket that will bring cheer to him and the kiddies, if he has kiddies.
Mrs. Trosngaar is sorry for this burglar because she just knows that he was hungry when he broke into their flat. And the way he treated Jana, her 13-year-old daughter, proves that he has a kind heart and is probably a daddy himself, in need.
When Jana came home from school she no sooner opened the door than she bumped into this burglar. She screamed, but jumped at him and started fighting with all her little might.
Finally, a sensible reaction to an intruder.
He stopped her, of course, and tied her hands and feet, but he did it gently and laid her down so softly that Mrs. Trosngaar just knows he didn’t want to hurt her.
The intruder left Jana on the floor and hurried from the house with nothing but a bottle of milk taken off the porch.– The Day Book, December 19, 1916
Forgiveness and compassion are noble virtues, but it sounds like Mrs. Trosngaar was more concerned about the would-be robber’s welfare than the trauma he no doubt caused poor Jana. And if this burglar was so nice, why did he leave her on the cold floor instead of a bed or couch?
Sit down for story time.
Admittedly, Emma was probably not a child at the time and may or may not have actually existed—in the early 20th century, you never know.
Alone in her house, Mrs. Emma Gard was making Christmas presents when a masked burglar entered, pointed a revolver at her head, and ordered her to tell where her money was hidden.
“You shouldn’t be doing this,” said the woman, gazing steadily at the intruder. “This is Christmas time. I have only $20, and am here alone, making presents. Sit down and we will talk about Christmas.”
Missionaries, I hope you’re taking notes. This is how it’s done.
Amazed, the burglar did so and lowered his revolver. Then came the recital of the woman, not in fear, but in the hope of helping the wayward man. The sweetness of the tale he had heard at his mother’s knee, the story that never grows old, transformed the man. Instead of a thief, he became again a believer in the gentle Nazarene and in fancy, followed the star.
“Thank you, you’ve made my Christmas happier,” he said in a broken voice, as he left the room.– The Daily Capital Journal, December 23, 1916
Whether you’re in Paris like the McCallisters or at home installing a security system to thwart burglars and Santas alike, best wishes for a happy, crime-free holiday season!
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Welcome to Second Glance History! This blog seeks to uncover the people and the stories forgotten by history and give them another read through a modern lens. Join me every week as we examine the differences that divide and the common threads that connect the then to the now.