A hundred years ago this Christmas Eve, President-elect Grover Cleveland, then the governor of New York, had a reception at his official mansion in Albany.
He invited only people from Albany and nearby Troy, explaining that he just wanted to return the hospitality of his neighbors who had entertained him as governor.
Meantime, outgoing President Chester A. Arthur, who had not sought reelection, was still in Washington.
"A few of the president's friends called . . . at the White House to wish him a Merry Christmas," according to an account in The Washington Post.
On Christmas Day, the president remained at home with his family, but went out to a friend's house for dinner.
Neither The Post nor the next day's Evening Star reported the identity of the host. Obviously, neither paper had a Style section in those days.
The president's main gift that day, The Post reported, was a fine handmade shotgun from a maker in Belgium.
The same edition of The Post that reported these facts included an advertisement for the Ebbitt, a hotel on the site of the present National Press Building at 14th and F streets NW, that highlighted "four iron fire escapes," and included an item headed, "Texas Cowboys on a Lark."
No, it wasn't forerunners of Tom Landry's footballers, but a bunch of merrymaking gunslingers who boarded a train and riddled it with bullets. Colonial Stubbornness When John D. Rockefeller Jr. decided more than half a century ago to turn Williamsburg, Virginia's decayed colonial capital, into Colonial Williamsburg, making the capitalized version a tourist attraction, he didn't reckon with the likes of Dora Travis Armistead.
The schoolteacher refused to sell her family home on Duke of Gloucester Street to the restoration effort. It was one of only two places on the street whose owners held out.
She could have had lifetime tenancy on her family's Victorian house, but she resisted the requirement that it be altered to meet the restoration effort's desire for an all-colonial ambiance.
"We're too independent," Armistead said in a 1976 interview in which the "we" referred to her then-still-living sister.
Interestingly, Armistead was descended from the Rev. Roland Jones, the first rector of Bruton Parish Church, a cornerstone of the Williamsburg restoration.
Armistead died last week, leaving her home vacant. Colonial Williamsburg wouldn't comment on whether it intended to try to acquire the property. Armistead's survivors include several cousins.