Margaret Thomas Glidewell, 78, has been chosen to represent Caraway this year as the Town Crier Christmas Angel. She is well known and in return knows the names of everyone in town, as she works at the Water Department at Caraway City Hall.
"It was a lot of fun growing up in a big family," Mrs. Glidewell said. "We always had someone to play with. Holidays were especially good, as there was a lot of excitement in the air.
"Since we lived in town we had close neighbors and were within walking distance of stores, schools and churches. We always put up a Christmas tree. Daddy would either bring it home or we would go out and cut it. We had a few store bought ornaments and made the rest from chains of paper and popcorn.
"I could smell oranges and fruit in the house and would look to find out where it was hid. We would wake up on Christmas with candy, fruit and nuts in our stockings. Momma would always cook a big ham and lots of desserts for Christmas dinner."
Her father was a section foreman for the Cotton Belt Railroad in Campbell. "Of course, he had to travel a lot and Mom was always home with us, Mrs. Glidewell said. "He would bring us different things from stops he would make.
"We had Christmas programs at school and church. We could walk everywhere in town, almost all year long. We even walked home to eat lunch. I only recall eating at school once, when the weather was real bad and the teacher wouldn't let us leave. A lady had a food wagon, and we ate lunch there. They trusted us for the lunch money, and we brought it back the next day.
The children played a lot of games outside, ranging from marbles, hop scotch, tag, and chase. They would make up their own games and have the best time playing with friends, Mrs. Glidewell remembers.
"We use to shoot fireworks at Christmas," she said. "I recall one year Daddy came home with a lot of big long cattails. He soaked the tops of them in kerosene. We lit them for torches at night outside. They lit up the sky in a big way. We let them burn until they burned out, which seemed a long time. I thought this was such a grand idea. Our parents were always thinking of something that they thought we would enjoy doing, which made being a child a lot of fun."
Mrs. Glidewell got a job working at the theatre in Campbell when she was 14. She started out as an usher, then sold popcorn then tickets. She knew everyone in town as they all came to the movies. She met her future husband James Glidewell while working at the theatre. He was from St. Francis and telegrapher for the Cotton Belt Railroad.
"We drove to Piggott to get married at Baptist minister J.O. Young's parsonage, when I was only 18 (1948)," she said. "At first we lived with his parents, Elsie and Howard Glidewell, in St. Francis. I was used to having a railroad man in the family, as that is all I had known with Daddy working there. Back then you could either farm or work for the railroad, and Daddy and James chose the railroad.
"Later on we moved to New Madrid, then to Caraway in 1952. We have two children, Myra (Morris), who now lives in Russellville, and Jim, who lives in Black Oak.
"We have loved living in Caraway and have made many friends here. We always kept close ties with our families in Campbell and St. Francis. When our children were growing up we would go to my mother's house in Missouri for Christmas Day. Soon the Thomas and Glidewell families became blended and we celebrated the holidays together.
"My children loved the Christmas trees and bright lights. My daughter liked dolls and my son liked trains and tractors."
Dressing and dumplings have always been two of the Glidewells' favorite Christmas foods. They love pecan pies and all types of desserts, and she tries to have everyone's favorites when they are at home.
"When the children were growing up we always attended Christmas programs at school and at church," she said. "Myra was a cheerleader and Jim played ball. We all attended church at the First Baptist Church here in town."
Mr. Glidewell worked for the railroad until he retired, with 40 years of service. After Caraway he worked at Leachville and Jonesboro. "
Mrs. Glidewell worked at Basler Electric, and sewed police stripes on uniforms, before taking the job at the Caraway Water Department 18 years ago.
"Even though James passed away in 2004, Christmas is still a great family time to me," she said. "This year we will celebrate on Dec. 20. We will have a lot of special foods for the day. My granddaughter loves roast, and I will fix that for her. We love carrots, and it seems I can't fix enough of them."
Mrs. Glidewell has five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. "I try to be creative with gifts for them, and have a little fun," she said. "I find different ways to give them money. Last year I had $5 bills folded inside gum wrappers in a pack of gum. You couldn't tell it from the real thing, until they opened it. My son asked me if I was giving the kids gum again this year.
"We celebrate whenever we can all be together, whether it is before or after Dec. 25. Christmas is not about gifts, or just food, but just being together as a family. It doesn't matter where or when we gather, but the fact that we always make an effort to see each other. The kids and grandkids grow up so fast, and I don't' want to miss being a part of their lives."