Semmes Old Fashioned Christmas Celebration is a free community event that reflects the simpler times of community life when the school and the church were the heart of the community. The whole community, from the youngest to the oldest, would gather together to celebrate Christmas. Our Celebration brings back those nostalgic memories with the reading of the Christmas story, and a Children's program.
A tour of the 1902 one room school house that is decked out in greenery and lit by oil lamps is the next stop. Upon entering the school, you are greeted by a cozy warm fire in the wood stove and the aroma of hot apple cider. You may enjoy the simple pleasure of sipping hot apple cider and nibbling on a cookie; then you will begin to hear the voice of Christmas carolers in the park.
Next on the tour is the log cabin with a glimpse of life in the olden days. There is a 1900's pump organ, rope bed and much more. A cedar Christmas tree decorated with wooden ornaments, icicles, and a handmade foil silver star. Under the tree are a display of gifts and toys from yesteryear. A tiny surprise gift awaits children who visit.
Braxton Lyles Jeanette,Velma, Chester Lyles
World War II brought a growth spurt. People from Clarke, Marengo and other counties flocked to Mobile to work in 1940’s at the shipyard and related industries. Mobile continued to be a boom town after the war.
My parents Braxton and Velma Lyles were part of this migratory group that came from Clarke County, first living in Prichard and moving to Semmes in 1945, when I was 2 years old. Semmes was a rural area. We had an outhouse, a hand pump, no electricity, no telephones Clothes were washed in a big iron wash pot that a fire had to be built under to heat the water, and a scrub board was used. We grew most of our food. Dad plowed with a mule. We had chickens, a milk cow and pigs. When we grew more food than we needed, we took it to the farmers market on Halls Mill Rd. to sell. My dad was a carpenter by trade and built a huge water tank on top of a high tower. Rain water was collected and a gasoline engine was used to pump water to the tank. The water tank made it possible to have running water in the house, gravity fed. Mom cooked on a coal oil (kerosene) stove. We had a rolling store that came once a week, and a ice man that delivered ice and coal from Mobile. The closest large grocery store was in Mobile. Our home was 3 miles from highway 98 off Wulff Rd, Lyles Rd.
I remember the joy of arriving home from school to discover electricity had been installed. Later in time, came an eight party telephone line. Eight different households were on the same line. You could pick up the phone and hear the conversations of whoever was talking on the phone.
The paving of Wulff Rd, was another memorial event. This ended the chance of missing school because the school bus had slid into the ditch.
Life was and is good! One of my mother’s favorite sayings was “Life is what you make it.” And when anything did not go as planned, my Dad would Say, “Well, we will just have to find another way.” and we did!
Preserving our History!