Christmas Past

The fascinating stories behind your favorite Christmas traditions

my dear santa: a true crime Christmas Caper

My Dear Santa: A True Crime Christmas Caper

What happens when a con artist decides to save Christmas?

It’s a piece of Christmas history you’ve probably never heard before…and it’s a doozy!

From the maker of the hit podcast, Christmas Past, comes an unforgettable true story populated by movie stars, government agents, bullfighters, a playboy mayor, and art thief, and gun-toting boy scouts. My Dear Santa: A True Crime Christmas Caper is a special six-part miniseries. All episodes are available under the main Christmas Past podcast feed (dated November 28, 2019), and also below.

Chapter 1: The Tardy Saint

At the turn of the 20th century, the idea of kids writing letters to Santa Claus was still new. Post offices, newspapers, and charities publicly disputed how to handle the letters. It was a logistical and public relations problem, which would take a clever plan to address.

Chapter 2: Santa’s Secretary and the Gun-Toting Boy Scouts

John Gluck was a workaday customs broker who dreamed of bigger things. So, when he heard that the Postal Service needed help with letters to Santa, he came forward with a plan to get the letters into the hands of donors. With a little help from a troop of boy scouts, John Gluck and his Santa Claus Association did the (seemingly) impossible.

Chapter 3: From a Cave to a Highrise

What happens when a charitable endeavor starts looking more and more like an elaborate con? As Gluck sought to expand operations, he started playing fast and loose with the facts in order to raise money and hobnob with the rich and powerful.

Chapter 4: War Santa Claus

During the Great War, fraudulent wartime charities abounded in New York City. When the district attorney started a sweeping investigation, John Gluck found himself in his crosshairs. But that was just the beginning of his troubles.

Chapter 5: A Spy in the House of Claus

You’d think that Gluck couldn’t make things worse for himself…but you’d be wrong. He finds himself the subject of more investigations, and gets himself into hot water with the state Attorney General. But this isn’t the end of the Santa Claus Association. But…that is coming.

Chapter 6: A Comeback and a Takedown

In the early 20s, John Gluck wanted to reinvigorate the Santa Claus Association to its original glory, with the help of some high profile endorsements.But along the way, he crossed the one man who figures out the stunningly simple way to shut down Gluck once and for all.

Special Thanks

Thanks to Alex Palmer, author of The Santa Claus Man, on which this story is based. Alex provided several hours of interviews and materials that appear in this series. This miniseries also includes appearances from Alonso Duralde, Greg Young, Nancy Pope, Wesley Livesay, Javier Leiva, and others.

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