AIRCHECK OF THE WEEK

Edition #1175
Week of December 19, 2021

 


Talent: BARRY NESBITT
Station: CKFH Toronto
Date: December, 1951
Time: 4:17

It started with a simple question.

In 1897, Virginia O'Hanlon - daughter of a coroner's assistant in Manhattan - was urged by her father to write to the New York Sun after she asked him whether Santa Claus existed. Upon receiving the letter, Sun editor Francis P. Church seized the opportunity to write a philosophical reply. His answer - an unsigned editorial in the Sun on September 21, 1897 - was a classic.


Dear Editor:

"I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ďIf you see it in The Sun, itís so.Ē Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia OíHanlon"

"Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be menís or childrenís, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but thatís no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the babyís rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Francis B. Church

Editor of the New York Sun"
 

Church did not want to write the editorial nor did he want his name attached to it. However, it has gone to become the most reprinted English-language editorial in history. He died in 1906, aged 67.

O'Hanlon went on to become a teacher, and later a junior principal. She retired in 1959 and died 12 years later at the age of 81, after several years of ill health.

CKFH general manager Barry Nesbitt did a reading of "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" that aired on CKFH in December 1951.

You can hear it here.
 

(The Barry Nesbitt Collection)
 


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