The Santa Claus Man : The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York
Overview - Before the charismatic John Duval Gluck, Jr. came along, letters from New York City children to Santa Claus were destroyed, unopened, by the U.S. Post Office. Gluck saw an opportunity, and created the Santa Claus Association. The effort delighted the public, and for 15 years money and gifts flowed to the only group authorized to answer Santa s mail. Read more...
More About The Santa Claus Man by Alex Palmer
Before the charismatic John Duval Gluck, Jr. came along, letters from New York City children to Santa Claus were destroyed, unopened, by the U.S. Post Office. Gluck saw an opportunity, and created the Santa Claus Association. The effort delighted the public, and for 15 years money and gifts flowed to the only group authorized to answer Santa s mail. Gluck became a Jazz Age celebrity, rubbing shoulders with the era s movie stars and politicians, and even planned to erect a vast Santa Claus monument in the center of Manhattan until Gotham s crusading charity commissioner discovered some dark secrets in Santa s workshop. The rise and fall of the Santa Claus Association is a caper both heartwarming and hardboiled, involving stolen art, phony Boy Scouts, a kidnapping, pursuit by the FBI, a Coney Island bullfight, and above all, the thrills and dangers of a wild imagination. It s also the larger story of how Christmas became the extravagant holiday we celebrate today, from Santa s early beginnings in New York to the country s first citywide Christmas tree and Macy s first grand holiday parade. The Santa Claus Man is a holidaytalewith a dark underbelly, and an essential read for lovers of Christmas stories, true crime, and New York City history."
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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Palmer (Weird-O-Pedia) uncovers the story of his great-granduncle John Duval Gluck Jr., the man behind the Santa Claus Association. In 1913, after learning that the U.S. Postal Service received hundreds of letters each year from children to Santa Claus, Gluck created an organization dedicated to responding to them. Originally designed to “spread Christmas cheer” and “protect belief in Santa Claus,” the association grew rapidly as the donations started flowing in, and New Yorkers volunteered to buy presents for needy children as the modern concept of Santa Claus took root in American culture. The distraction of WWI proved to be a boon for unscrupulous charities, many of which were unsupervised, creating a breeding ground for corruption in which Gluck took part. Palmer deftly weaves in other cultural touchstones such as the genesis of the Boy Scouts, Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and the WWI Christmas Day armistice (in which opposing armies traded goods) to tell the larger story of America’s adoption and adaptation of Christmas that endures to this day. It’s a highly readable account of the evolution of one of America’s favorite holidays and traditions. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency. (Oct.)