Vintage Photo Wednesday, Vol. 21: New York Santa & Mobile Xmas Post Office

Sorry for the dearth of activity around these parts lately, it’s been a hectic holiday season. To make it up to you I’m doubling your vintage photograph pleasure this week!

Up first is a familiar site — Santa Claus collecting donations for the less fortunate on a street corner, circa the early 1910s. This is from the Library of Congress’s Bain News Service collection. Click for a larger version.

New York Christmas Santa

The sign on the faux chimney reads, in part, “Volunteers of America — Ballington Booth Christmas Dinners.” According to Wikipedia, Ballington Booth was an officer in the Salvation Army. His parents, William and Catherine Booth, founded the Salvation Army in 1865.

Booth and his wife Maud left the Salvation Army in the late 19th century and started their own charity organization — God’s American Volunteers — in March 1896. That group soon took the name of Volunteers of America. Volunteers of America is active today and claims to help roughly 2.5 million people per year.

Our second image is one that I don’t think we’ll ever see again. It’s a mobile post office rolling through the streets of Washington D.C. with Santa in tow, from 1921.

The Christmas post office "A la carte" has made its appearance on national capitol streets
The Christmas post office “A la carte” has made its appearance on national capitol streets

I just love this one. Long before the Postal Service was teetering on the brink of collapse, they had the wherewithal to campaign for early Christmas mailing. The greenery they slapped on that rickety old truck looks less like a Christmas scene and more like they drove it through the woods first. I love that this quaint little scene is frozen forever.