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Evolution is fine; so is the past

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Santa's Hut

Crews get Santa's Hut ready for children in 2004. The hut was built in the 1950s or 60s by the Tracy Jaycees and served generations of Tracy kids before it was retired after Christmas 2017.

Good morning. I wanted to spend one last dollop of ink on the former Santa Hut that used to sit at 10th and Central at Christmastime and then at Sixth and Central for its last few years.

See, I loved the Santa Hut as a child of Tracy. It was built — by the Tracy Junior Chamber of Commerce, I am reasonably informed by our publisher emeritus — in the late 1950s or early ’60s. Its chalet-style roof was so different from every other building shape I had known that it seemed to me plucked from a far-off, snow-covered land and brought to Tracy. It conjured in my mind images of a village of chalet-shaped buildings where Santa spent the year building toys and playing with reindeer.

The mere roofline was evocative for me, and my excitement when I first laid eyes on it every year at the corner of that parking lot cannot be overstated.

The chalet hut is gone now, but new volunteers have built a new workshop for Santa at Sixth and Central, and that’s OK. I have no doubt that Tracy’s kids will be well-excited by the annual sight of the red workshop.

And let me tell you this: The new building in no way undermines my memories of Santa’s Hut. I can still feel the way my pulse raced. The nostalgic fondness remains. My affection is untarnished by regret that it is no longer.

Because I grew up in Tracy, I often hear from residents who knew me as a youngster or know my past about how they lament Tracy’s population growth. Tracy’s busy roads. Tracy’s loss of small-town charm.

Here is my consistent answer: Things are meant to evolve. It is a natural order that has defined our species and our planet. Tracy’s 93,000 people have not dulled my childhood in a town of 15,000. I had an amazing childhood raised by this town. The multitude of cars has not caused me to stop walking downtown; nor has its geographic size stopped me from saying “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” to people I pass on the sidewalk.

Evolution is good. It brings new ideas and new families. It means Tracy is thriving, not stagnating. I love what Tracy is becoming just as I love what Tracy was.

If you miss the way things were, then I implore you to hold them in your heart and keep doing what you did three or four decades ago. Let the Tracy you love live in your actions. You will never be disappointed.

If you are tired of Executive Editor Michael Ellis Langley’s Christmas sentimentalism, by all means email him at or call him at 830-4231.

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