Celebrating Democracy with Steve Sparks… Christmas 1935 Sparks Family, St Paul Mn

It was Christmas eve 1935 in St Paul, Mn. My dad, Vernon, and his pop, Al Sparks, just returned home after an afternoon visiting his Pop’s favorite bars in the neighborhood.


Grandpa was already “3 sheets to the wind” as his family would observe when he staggered in and flopped in his favorite chair in the small living room off the kitchen.


Vernon came strolling in after his pop. Vernon often went with him to make sure he got home safely. After all it was Christmas eve and the family was gathering for dinner. 


Grandpa Sparks at times didn’t make it home after being out and about the neighborhood drinking with friends at the local bars and pubs. He would get drunk and fall asleep somewhere, who knows. 


Grandma was busy making chicken dumplings with her daughters Juneth and Dolly. Ronnie, Dad’s younger bro was just a toddler at the time. 


Grandpa liked to hide whiskey in several hiding places at home. My dad knew the places. He changed these places so as to keep his daughter Juneth from finding the bottle and dumping it down the sink while Grandpa watched with horror and trepidation.


The kids hated holidays because the mood went quickly from joy and favorite Christmas songs to violence that looked like a brawl in a local bar.


Aunt Juneth knew there was a bottle of whiskey somewhere and went looking for it while Grandpa took a short nap.

Aunt Dolly joined her sister while they hunted for the booze. Vernon tried to stop them, pleading not to touch it. “Grandpa would go into a violent rage,” Vernon would yell out. Vernon was very loud, indeed. I am my father’s son…


Aunt Juneth found the bottle in the backyard hidden under a small wooden box disguised as a flower stand. Junith, a 13 year old teen, couldn’t wait to dump the booze down the kitchen sink slowly while Grandpa threatened to kill her.


He would say to my auntie Junith with hate in his eyes, “I told your mother we should have stuffed you in a gunny sack when you were born and tossed you into the Mississippi River!”


So, as it was for every holiday, including my own childhood, that most Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays ended up with drunkenness, violent outbursts, broken furniture, bruises, and chaos. It was dangerous. No child should ever be in a home like this.


It’s no wonder that I come from a very sick and traumatized family dynamic. It’s disgusting and horrible for kids to live in a dangerous home like that.


What is sad is in the this year 2020, families in every community live in a home growing up with violence. My home was this way during the holidays. At least 2 weeks dug in a fox hole. It was survival of the fittest. Down and dirty…


What happened at home stayed at home. But this wasn’t Las Vegas. It was St. Paul MN, 2 blocks from St Paul Cathedral in 1935 on Christmas Eve…

You ask why some folks say they hate Christmas? “Now you know the rest of the story.

Steve Sparks, Author, US Navy vet