In last weeks Breaktime posting, "The Billy Goat Wagon Craze; a look back", I included a letter sent to Santa Claus by a little boy from Richmond, Virginia. The boy's name was Earnest* Mills and was printed in the December 23, 1902 edition of the Richmond Evening Leader.
I was fascinated by what he included on his list. There was the afore mentioned Billy Goat and wagon but there were also items like a big orange and candy. I was intrigued that in both letters, yes there were two, he wanted fireworks.
I was surprised that a small child would want fireworks so decided to see how they were depicted in the early 20th century. As you can see from the pictures I have included, they were marketed using children and possibly to children.
This should not be a surprise because the early 20th century was a time when the U.S. was feeling its oats as a growing military power. It was also a time when children were frequently portrayed playing war (see: "Children Playing War; looking back 100 years"). It was also a time when apparently no one thought too much about safety.
More pictures on the next page.
*The name Ernest is typically spelled without an "a" so I wonder if this was a newspaper error, that the boys parents did not know how to spell Ernest or that they wanted him to be an earnest person so they gave him that name.