The early 20th century was famously creepy. Halloween costumes were always a little "off" and funny dress-up gags always took a dark turn. Christmas was no different, with creepy Santa's who wore masks (why?) and terrifying Santa's helpers being a common theme in what were supposed to be happy holiday photos. At the time, they probably had no idea how awfully scary these things were, but looking back, it's pretty obvious.
It was common for Santa's to wear masks in order to keep the facade going. In hindsight, it just seems really creepy that you'd give your child to a masked stranger! Plus, these masks are unsettling. They don't look human whatsoever.
The helpers look like they're supposed to be mice, but they just look like monsters from a child's nightmare. We're not overlooking the fact that Santa there looks terrifying as well! He's also wearing a mask, which makes the entire set up even scarier. Why are the helpers even on roller skates?
For decades, parents have raised us to stay away from strangers, especially strangers with candy... except on Christmas, apparently.
This photo is much older, but that doesn't excuse the fact that Santa looks like a zombie. It looks like he didn't stand still enough and got a little ghosted!