Each year about this time, I read an editorial by Francis Pharcellus Church that was published in The Sun on September 21, 1897. The editorial is in response to a letter written by eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon. Now, this entry is not about the contents of the editorial but I will add my favorite part of the editorial:
Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
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No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Mr. Church's prose is beautiful. He died in 1906 and Virgina died in 1971. Check out the brief description of the two in Wikipedia. In her letter to The Sun, Virginia printed her address as 115 W. 95th St. Does it still exist? Yes, see 115 W. 95th St. Between 113 and 117 you will see 115 in the center above the windows. To the left of 115, you will see The Studio School at the entrance. The Studio School is a private, elementary-middle school and was founded in 1971, the year Virginia died. In 2009, The Studio School honored Virginia by attaching a plaque to 115 which you can see on the Google Maps image. What does the placque say? You cannot read it on Google Maps but I've added the contents as the final part of this entry.
1889 - 1971
This site, 115 West 95th Street, was once the residence of Virginia O'Hanlon, who in 1897, at the age of eight, wrote a letter to The New York Sun asking, "Is there a Santa Clause?" Editor Francis Pharcellus Church was inspired to respond with the most famous newspaper editorial in American history. Published in the Sun, on September 21, 1897, Church's editorial went beyond the child's simple question to uphold the faith that sustains life confirming that "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy."
Mrs. Laura Virginia O'Hanlon (Douglas) went on to become an educator and a staunch supporter of children's rights. In 1961, she reaffirmed her belief in the spirit of Santa Claus, saying it "stands for love and sharing, the joy of giving and the extension of it to all people."