While I was down in Tennessee dealing with the death of my mother, we were looking through some old picture albums and came across this photo. This is my grandparents, John and Josephine (Josefa) Busscher, riding in a one horse open sleigh. It was likely taken in Winnetka, Illinois – north of Chicago – in 1914 – give or take a year. My grandfather delivered milk and vegetables house-to-house from a horse-drawn wagon. In fact, that’s how he met my grandmother, who was a cook at the home of the Hibbard family, who were in the hardware business. The Hibbards invited the servants to have tea with them Sunday afternoons during the warm season and that’s where my grandparents met.
You’re probably familiar with the song “Jingle Bells”. The song was written by James Lord Pierpont around 1857 in a tavern in Medford, Massachusetts. The original title of the song was “One Horse Open Sleigh”. While it’s become a holiday favorite, it has no connection to Christmas. Sometimes sleighs had bells attached to them, so that people and other sleighs could hear them coming and avoid a collision. Sometimes people would jingle bells while singing the song. If they didn’t have a bell, they would shake the ice cubes in their drinks to make a bell-like sound.
The song was first recorded on an Edison cylinder in 1889. It was also the first song to be broadcast from outer space, by the Gemini astronauts on Dec. 16, 1965.