Remembering the Sleepy Town Express

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Looking Back

Eight-year-old Mary Clare Smith gets her Christmas wish in to Santa Claus (Austin Trainor) in this photo taken circa December 1945 at the Prince Edward Theatre in Charlottetown.

Editor: Christmas has got me thinking . . . how in the world do kids get their letters off to Santa Claus these days. Email is so unclear — or so unconfirmed.

Not so in our day. We wrote our letters to Santa at the North Pole and miraculously the arrival was confirmed because Santa read our letters on CFCY, The Sleepy Time Express program. The storyteller would welcome Santa and Snow Fairy would join in and then Little Nose would have his say. We were enthralled — particularly when Santa would read the letters of “the dear little boys and girls” and mentioning us, encouraging us to be good and we would certainly get everything we asked for. It was magical.

I was completely enraged when the girls at school tattled that Austin Trainor was Santa Claus. He was the Holman’s Santa and was our parents’ friend so he certainly wasn’t Santa Claus, and we went on believing until one night Austin Trainor arrived at our house, as he often did. But this time we heard bells jingling in his pocket. Oh dear the girls were right. What a disillusionment. What worries me today is I think I was probably 10 or 12.

What a gift the Sleepy Town Express was to us all. Betty Large as the perfect storyteller, Betty Howatt, Mary Trainor or Marlene Balderston as the Snow Fairy, and who did the distorted recording that produced Little Nose was, I don’t know.

I don’t know who is doing it today, but it was a special time for us and all I can say to end this sentimental journey is ho ho ho ho ho. Merry Christmas to the dear little boys and girls.

Catherine Hennessey,


Organizations: Sleepy Time Express, Sleepy Town Express

Geographic location: North Pole, Charlottetown

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