Appalachia Christmas

Ebert’s Shoes

Today’s guest post was written by Mary Lou McKillip.

1909 Jacob Farney Davis and Julia Soliva Mintz Davis


My Mother and Father’s wedding picture taken in 1909-Jacob Farney Davis and Julia Soliva Mintz Davis. Their first child died in 1910 then in 1911 they had my oldest brother Everett. I was their last child-born in 1942. They had fourteen children. Dad lived to be 77 and Mother was 96 when she died.

Ebert’s Shoes written by Mary Lou McKillip

This is a true story of long ago. My oldest brother was about thirteen years old when it took place. On Christmas he was selected to play Santa Claus for his younger siblings. I would venture to guess it was around 1923 or 1924. Through the years as Mama told the story to me, she would always laugh.

Mother said that winter the snow was so deep around their shanty it was almost up to the windows. Dad and Mama worked hard to survive and make ends meet, Mama made all their clothes and knit their socks. She had many homemade quilts on the beds for comfort. She went in the fall and got big flat rocks out of the creek to put in the edge of the fireplace and then wrapped the hot rocks in wool shawls and placed them at their feet for warmth on those cold winter nights.

Mama had all four children’s Christmas presents made and wrapped with all the goodies that a good cook could fix for her little ones to eat. She made Everett a Santa suit out of one of Dad’s old red union suits. She put cotton around his middle and gave him a big pillow to stuff in his suit. She also made him a red toboggan and a mask with a beard of cotton. She told me she was down right proud of his Santa suit even if she did make it herself.

Everett slipped out of the house when the younger ones weren’t looking. The young ones were busy eating, laughing, and stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree. Everett had his sack full of presents Mama had made for everyone. She signaled for Everett to come inside. He beat on the door and yelled out Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! Once Everett came inside, he began talking to each one of the children in a rough voice, asking them what he was supposed to bring them. He took Charlie the youngest on his knee and Charlie was clattering on about what he wanted and was having such a good time when all the sudden Charlie looked down and seen Santa’s shoes. He got down and told Santa Claus to get off his Ebert’s shoes. Charlie couldn’t talk plain and the other children looked in amazement as he said again, “You have my Ebert’s shoes on, now get them off Santa Claus!”

Everett passed out the presents to the rest of the children with Charlie still wanting him to get his Ebert’s shoes off. Everett opened the door to brave the cold and pull off the costume. When Everett came back in to open his presents. Charlie said,“Ebert, I see you got your shoes back from that rascal Santa Claus.” Everett told Charlie “Yes indeed Santa traded back my shoes in a hurry, when I was about to leave him without his shoes out there in the snow.”

Charlie and the other children didn’t realize Santa Claus was their big brother Everett and the whole family had a good and happy Christmas. Near the end of the night Charlie crawled in Everett’s lap and asked “What did that shoes snatcher Santa Claus leave for you Ebert?”

I believe this was one of Mama’s best Christmases. She truly loved to tell me the story of Ebert’s shoes as Christmas came around each year. Mama, Dad, and all my siblings are gone now. But what a wonderful happy Christmas they had on Town House that Christmas Eve night, just above the town of Marble, N.C.


I hope you enjoyed Mary Lou’s Christmas story as much as I did! Ebert’s shoes-sounds like the title for a song-and I bet Mary Lou could write the song and sing it too if she decided to!


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  • Reply
    December 28, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Ed-it is a small world after all : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 23, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Vertie Gertrude Jones, mother of Evelyn Christine Mintz Breedlove, was the sister of Loyal Jones whose volume of photography and prose I will eternally appreciate.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    December 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Lovely (and loving!) Christmas story. Very handsome couple, too-

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    December 23, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I loved this story! I can just see that little boy in the Santa suit 🙂 Thank you, Mary Lou, for a fine tale. Merry Christmas to all Blind Pig readers!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    What a beauty your mother was, Mary Lou! Just look at her standing there with one hand on your father’s shoulder and the other behind her back. I won’t wonder what she holds in the hidden hand, but I’ll bet she could get your father to do anything she wanted.
    My cousin Victor Breedlove married a Mintz girl, Evelyn Christine. Her father was Everette Mintz. Is she your cousin? May I put this picture in my online family tree?

  • Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Mary Lou, I am not the newspaper man you speak of but, I wish I were. Better yet, I wish I were the CEO for BARNES AND NOBLE of New York. Your books would be every where nice lady! I love your work!!!

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    December 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I approve of Tipper posting my story, Ebert’s Shoes. thank so much for sharing this with your readers and all the nice comments.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    December 23, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks Tipper and the dear readers . I so loved to hear Mama tell this story. I do believe this may have been her greatest ever.
    Thank Linda( Maw Crow) I dearly love you and your Mother and I enjoyed staying with Maybelle, I got to enjoy all of you. I would love to see you. Bradley If your the newspaper man I want to thank you for printing my southern corn Cobb Humor stories weekly. Tipper is the gal who entertains us all. Thank again Tipper.

  • Reply
    Linda Knight
    December 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Mary Lou… delightful. Mama, Lois (Maybell’s sister) enjoyed it even more than I did!! She’s 93 now and sends her best to you. Linda aka Mama Crow

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 23, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    A truly wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    A grand story, this; I can just see that young’un, pitching a fit over stolen shoes…

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    December 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Wow! What a nice Christmas Story
    by Mary Lou. She’s an excellent
    writer and storyteller. I just love
    these stories of hard times, cold
    winters, and warm blankets. These
    are alot like the winters I had as
    a kid, rekindling those wonderful
    memories of Family…Ken

  • Reply
    james gentry
    December 23, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Thanks for such a great story, a true picture of the triumph of the human spirit over hard times. I absolutely loved this story, and Charlie and “Ebert”!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 23, 2013 at 10:57 am

    and Mary Lou, Thank you for a wonderful story. I am sure Ebert..
    aka Everett was laughing so hard to himself that he had a hard time keeping a straight face. How he pulled off the switch without giving it away is a mystery!
    You know, when happy times abound, one can just jump into the fun and fantasy even if one knows the truth, even if you know Santa is your very best older brother!
    Thanks for sharing Tipper,
    and Mary Lou for writing down her wonderful memories.
    Dad said, “One winter the quilts were stacked so deep on the bed, he could hardly turn over, but dare not move one off, or he would freeze to death!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 23, 2013 at 9:41 am

    A wonderful story which would bring a smile to even a Scrooge’s face.
    Thank you, Mary Lou.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Wonderful story! Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

    What a great memory and story to share! I really enjoyed it.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 8:50 am

    That was a great story! Who would have thought that shoes could have been a deal breaker. Amazing what children will notice. My older brother played Santa for our younger sister – 13 years difference – by stomping in the attic near the chimney. I can still picture her face today and she is now sixty.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 8:40 am


  • Reply
    William Dotson
    December 23, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Great story, thanks for the share.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 7:50 am

    What a loving and fun story! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    December 23, 2013 at 7:34 am

    What a delightful story Mary Lou McKillip has told. If she doesn’t have it in a book yet, she should think about writing another book and including it! The story shows so much of the determination and hard work that our mountain folk were willing to expend for the happiness and care of their families. And the touch of humor gives the story just the right flavor! These help us remember with such fondness and appreciation the Christmases of our growing up years. Compared to now, our gifts were meager; but the thought and effort behind making the children happy became a measureless treasure adding a superior dimension to simple gifts. Thank you, Mary Lou, for the poignant reminder of how rich we really are!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 23, 2013 at 7:33 am

    What a wonderful story of family and their love for each other. thank you so much for sharing it

  • Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2013 at 5:04 am

    I loved this story! I remember Mary Lou Mc Mckillip; I bought her book “Harmony and True Grit”! What memories! I think memories whether good or bad is the glue that keep all families forever intact. Loved this.

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