Christmas (or Xmas) was a big deal in 1917 Llano, but the front pages of The Llano News were still dominated by news from the war in Europe. Headlines on December 13 announced “Wilson Proclaims War on Austria” and “Germans Prepare for Big Drive in West.” A little closer to home, a drive was announced to sign up 3,000,000 new Red Cross volunteers, and Llano was planning a “Big Mass Meeting” at the opera house to recruit “a large number” of local volunteers. Smaller meetings were planned at eight other locations around the county (Castell, Valley Spring, Oatman School House, Field Creek, Baby Head, Tow Valley, Oxford and Lone Grove).
A letter of thanks was received by the Llano Red Cross chapter, from “the boys of Battery B, of the 345thField Artillery at Camp Travis, who had just received their “Xmas packages.” They were: W.G. Alexander, of Tow; William Smith, of Click; G.A. Weaks, of Kingsland; and W.F. Bowman, of Llano.
The Culture Club announced that its presentation of “The Womanless Wedding” at the opera house (“one of the most delightful and altogether pleasing entertainments ever given in Llano”) had been a big success, attracting a capacity crowd (despite “most disagreeable” weather) and netting $62.50, all of which would be spent on wool for “the making of knit garments for the soldier boys.”
The Llano County Commissioners Court was considering the possibility of re-flooring the “river bridge,” and the City of Llano was installing “Another Culvert” at “the corner of Sandstone Street near the home of J.T. Simpson.” The article continued: “this is one of the last remaining ditches over which a concrete culvert had not been placed. It is a pleasant reflection to think just a short time back, when there was scarcely a piece of concrete in the city limits.”
There was more war news on the inside pages, but it was overshadowed by a good number of ads (at $12 per page, or $6 for a half-page). D.L. Carl (“The Quality Jeweler”) advertised “Gifts of Real Worth” to “Make Your Christmas Ideal.” He had all kinds of jewelry, silverware, cut glass, clocks, watches, knives, pens and more for sale.
Ransom & McInnis wished the public “Merry Christmas,” and advertised “Toys of Every Description.” They had dolls, doll buggies and furniture, Christmas books, mechanical toys, air guns, cap pistols, water pistols, footballs, “baseball goods,” games, etc., plus Columbia Grafonola and Columbia Records, jewelry, clothing and accessories for women and men.
Johnson & Byfield offered “Xmas Specials,” including silk pajamas, shirts, handkerchiefs, collars and hose (and lots more items of linen and wool). Corner Drug Store offered useful gifts for “Xmas Shoppers,” including cut glass, Pyrex casseroles and pie plates, “military sets, travelers sets, manicure sets,” candies, toilet water and Whitting Stationery.”
The Acme Dry Goods Co., “Llano’s Best Store,” advertised “Practical Christmas Gifts” for “Xmas Shoppers.” Wilbur C. Treadwell asked, “Will there be a Victrola or Grafonola in your house Christmas?” He wished everyone a “Merry Christmas,” and offered “all the latest records in Victor and Columbia.”
The banner headline on December 20 said “Be sure and Join the Red Cross during the big Christmas Drive – Duty calls upon you to Enlist.” A story below noted that the drive had already netted 712 “Christmas Members” and $666 in donations, “with enthusiasm growing.”
Watkins Auto Sales Company reported that they had “received and delivered” 18 more Fords, mostly to citizens of Llano. In a related item, Miss Louise Foster “sustained a badly broken arm” while “cranking a Ford car.”
Quantrell Cone purchased the interest of his former partner, T.A. Bartlett, and became the sole owner of the Llano Garage. Emil Pehl, who had recently returned to Llano from San Antonio, bought a blacksmith shop from T. Cowley.
An item titled “Xmas Eve Dance” reported that there would be a dance at the Don Carlos Hotel “on the night before Christmas.”
On page 2, the “Weekly War News Digest” (from the Committee on Public Information) was accompanied by another Christmas ad from Johnson & Byfield, plus generic ads from B.R. Miller Vulcanizing (at Llano Buick Co.), Llano National Bank, Rockwell Bros. & Co Lumber, and turkey buyer Ed McClary, for L. Frank & Co.
Classified ads on page 3 (a well-built, 7-room house with two porches, a good well and a windmill, on six lots just north of the Don Carlos Hotel, was listed for sale at $2,250 or for rent at $15 a month) were accompanied by another large Christmas ad from Corner Drug Store and a medium-size ad from Watkins Auto Sales Company asking, “Is Your Car Out of Adjustment?”
Local news and letters to the editor shared page 4 with another large Christmas ad from jeweler D.L. Carl and a smaller announcement of a “Special Christmas Dinner” (including “Xmas pudding a la Don Carlos” for dessert) for just 75 cents at the Hotel Don Carlos dining room.
Ransom & McInnis took all of page 5 with its Christmas ad. Moss & Company advertised reduced clothing prices in “Three Big Special Sales – Friday, Saturday and Monday” on page 6. Other ads on page 6 were from T.S. Parker (Republic Trucks), Dalton the Tailor (Suits from $15 to $27.50), J.I. Fry (Furs Wanted) and Miles Buttery (Undertaker and Enbalmer).
A multitude of smaller ads crowded page 7, including Home National Bank, John A. Chism General Merchandise, Gunter Hotel, Buie Auto Co., Llano Troy Laundry, Ford and Kelly-Springfield Tires.
A few little news items and classified ads were sandwiched between two large ads on the back page (page 8), Christmas ads from Acme Dry Goods and Wilbur C. Treadwell. Christmas was obviously already a big business opportunity in Llano a century ago.
A small announcement noted that there would be “no paper next week,” as “the force will take the time off to enjoy Christmas.” Apparently, that was “a custom long established in this office;” the Highland Lakes Weekly plans to adopt that “custom” this year, and there will be no HLW on December 29.