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Millis/Medway - Local Town Pages

Millis Historical Society receives Santa collection carved out of historic wood scraps

Items handcrafted from salvaged wood in the '80s and '90s

By Theresa Knapp

The Millis Historical Commission was recently gifted a collection of Santa Claus decorations handcrafted from salvaged wood by former Millis wiring inspector Tauno “Duke” Aalto (1917-2000). 

The donation was made by the Kravitz family who were neighbors with the Aalto family in the Rockville section of Millis. The seven hand-carved Santas came with a note from Amy [nee Kravitz] Avery that read, in part: 

“You may remember Duke Aalto. Many years ago he served as the wiring inspector for Millis. His [department] report in the annual town report was always written in poem form...During Duke’s inspections to some of Millis’s landmarks, he (probably surreptitiously) took pieces of discarded wood to later carve and turn into the enclosed Santas. I’m not sure but he may have had a little help from his wife [Quine, 1921-2011] in writing the poems as she was a published and prolific poet.”

Avery closed by saying, “My dad [Ernest] and I hope you enjoy these little pieces of Millis history. They were an extra special part of Christmastime for my mom [Corinne] for many years.” 

Jacqueline Graci of the Millis Historical Commission said the organization was pleased to receive the donation. “I think they’re neat little treasures. They’re made of parts of all the different historical places in town.” Graci says the Commission will likely place the Santas on the mantle at the Niagara building this holiday season. 

The Santas have the following inscriptions (from green Santa, clockwise): (1) Oak Grove 1992 renovation; (2) Rocklawn (a.k.a. Holiday Shop); (3) old Clyde F. Brown Elementary School, circa 1954; (4) Old New England Cemetery fence post circa 1933; (5) Memorial School, (6) old Ellice School, circa 1849; (7) “From renovation...Project ‘96”.

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