Long ago in 1823, when the city of Laconia was still growing, when there were no cars on the roads or electricity in people’s homes, a hosiery mill was built. What is a hosiery mill, you ask? It made socks.
For years this mill provided socks for the people of Laconia and the surrounding towns. It also made sure that all the soldiers that fought in the Civil War and both World Wars had wonderful socks to keep their feet warm. It was a very important mill with very hard working people.
One of these hard-working people was J.P Morin. Mr. Morin started as a laborer at the mill, but in 1913 he bought the mill and became its owner. However, this story is not about Mr. Morin. It is about his son Alphonse and a little elf named Socks.
Alphonse loved Christmas. It was his favorite holiday, and every year he looked forward to hanging his stockings up for Santa to fill with gifts and treats. It was one Christmas when he was very young that Alphonse asked his father to have the workers at the mill make him a very special stocking, a stocking that would make Santa smile with Christmas joy.
The mill was so busy making sure it filled all its sock orders that sadly there was simply no time do so, and to be honest Mr. Morin had no idea how to make such a Christmas stocking. However, a child’s Christmas wish is always heard by Santa and Alphonse was about to find this out.
Up at the North Pole, there lived an elf named Socks. Now Socks was not your average toy-making elf. Oh no. Socks made sure that Santa’s suit was well taken care of and that all the elves’ suits were without tear or ruin. Socks was a tailor and he was very good at what he did.
It was on the last day of November that Santa came to Socks while he was finishing up a few small repairs on the famous red suit and exclaimed, “Socks, I have something special for you to do. For years, children have been hanging their stockings by their fireplaces to dry. As you know, on Christmas Eve I fill these stockings with toys and gifts for the good boys and girls of the world. I need you to create a special Christmas stocking for the children. And I have just the place for you to do it.”
Santa and Socks discussed the details, and the very next day, the first of December, Socks paid a visit to the Belknap Mill. Now, the workers had since all gone home to their families and Socks began working on making the most special Christmas stocking anyone had ever known...and then he made another....and another. He kept working until the morning light shown through the Mill’s windows, and when he was done a pile of the red and green stockings were upon Mr. J.P. Morin’s desk. Socks then found a comfortable place to rest high in the wooden beams of the mill and drifted off to sleep
You can only imagine the surprise when Mr. Morin arrived the next day and discovered them all. He did not question where they came from, he only gave them out to his hard-working employees, making sure he saved one for Alphonse. The joy he saw on the child’s face made him want every child to have a special Christmas stocking. And when he arrived the next day, there upon his desk was another pile of stockings.
This continued every morning for the next three weeks leading up to Christmas, as Santa requested Socks to return on the 22nd of December to help with preparing for the big Christmas Eve trip.
For the years that followed, Socks would always return on the first of December to make more stockings for the children. He was never seen and Mr. Morin never questioned who was making such lovely stockings. It was a Belknap Mill secret.
But, in 1969 the Mill stopped working. In 1969, Socks stopped coming on the first of December. There would be no more Christmas stockings made at the Belknap Mill.
However, recently children have begun to come into the Mill to learn about its history. Of course, the Christmas stockings story was never included in what the children were told...until now.
All of this new activity at the long quiet Mill has brought Socks back! And this time it is no longer in secret. The place he loved so much, once again needs his help. Socks has been assisting with daily activities of the Mill, helping to fix the sock making machinery (as there are not many left that know how), and finding time to have fun with the children.
So if you happen to visit the Belknap Mill during the first three weeks of December, make sure you ask to see Socks. He loves taking ELFIES (selfies) with the children and their families. He even has special permission from the Mill staff to give a small candy cane to any child who takes one with him.
Though, be aware that he must return to the North Pole on the 22nd of each year to assist Santa as he always has, so don’t miss your chance to say a “thank you” to Socks; the special little elf that brought Christmas stocking joy to children everywhere from the Belknap Mill. #belknapmill #wherecommunityhappens
- Christopher Beyer, teacher, Laconia School District
Socks the elf