”CHRISTMAS TREE TOOK ROOT AND GREW
When it seemed that every means of raising cash had been exhausted somebody suggested the fort Christmas tree. Mrs. Alice Houghton was one of the first promoters of it, but nobody was far behind when the plan because understood. Briefly, the scheme was to have everybody donate anything they could, use these donations for presents and give them out according to the numbers corresponding to tickets sold. The distribution was to be made from a huge Christmas tree on the Auditorium stage.
The list of donated presents that came pouring in is something to smile over at first, and after that it begins to nearly resemble the family pewter melted up to supply patriots’ bullets. One woman, with a desire to do something, and nothing much to do with, finally got together the ingredients of a mince pie and offered that. Somebody with more live stock than cash, offered a colt. Teachers gave music and painting lessons, and so the list ran down through rheumatism medicine, curling irons, harmonica, dental and surgical work, a month’s board, a month’s shaves, photographic and plumbing work, paint, pickles, cigarette tobacco, electric baths, skating rink tickets—you could scarcely name a thing on sale that was not to be found listed for the fort Christmas tree. The country districts joined in, one man at Chattaroy sending two-bits and regrets that it was all he had. It wasn’t a poverty social affair, by any means, however, for gold watches, a bicycle, expensive dishes, furs and a costly shotgun were also contributed. The same spirit prevailed with everybody and everybody gave what they could and more than they could really afford. It was the strangest and most varied Christmas tree assortment ever gotten together. Nothing was rejected.
EVERYBODY HAD TICKETS FOR SALE
Tickets of admission to the tree, carrying chances on the presents, were sold at $1. You couldn’t meet a councilman, policeman or any other able-bodied citizen who wouldn’t have a bunch of tickets to sell, and who wouldn’t sell you one if you had a dollar in your clothes. Men and women who now ride about town in latest model automobiles, walked then and sold Christmas tree tickets along the route. The Spokane club set aside Saturdays as days when all members who indulged in innocent little games played for tickets. Social circles played euchre for ticket prizes.
The project grew at such a rate that the committee was unable to prepare the tree before the night of December 31. When the Auditorium doors were opened at 7 o’clock a crowd surged in that taxed Harry Hayward’s ingenuity, and Harry never was what might be called a green stripling. Robert Easson, J. W. Wentworth, A. C. Ware, E. M. Shaw and John Leghorn, as floor committee, put in an evening’s work that is not yet forgotten. …”
The History of the City of Spokane and Spokane County, Washington, Vol. 1, by Nelson Duane Durham, 1912, pages 467-8