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A Look Back: Christmas gifts from a century ago

12-21-look-back

By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back 100 years ago, where and what did we get for Christmas gifts?

You could shop in several stores downtown on Main Street — no internet in those days. There were dry good stores, furniture stores, clothing stores, shoe stores and if you were really good, the blacksmith stores for a new buggy with the fringe on the top!

Perhaps you would want to buy a pocket watch, necklace or ring from the jewelry store, a wallet, snuff box or opera glasses.

Books have always been popular, titles like “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “The Call of the Wild”, “The Purple Sage” by Zane Grey and “Tarzan of the Apes,” or writing paper, and H.D. Smith Store had it all, different colors and sizes. Writing was popular still and everyone loved to receive a letter or card in the mail.

By 1917, the Red Cross was selling Christmas seals with the money going toward tuberculosis cure and war efforts. Victrola records were a hit and ranged from 75 cents to 2 dollars. And what songs would you get to hear? Why titles like “Here Comes My Daddy” by Colin and Harley, or some of the songs from Jack Yellen such as “Alabama Jubilee” (1915), “Are You From Dixie?” (1915), “Johnny Get Your Gun and Be a Soldier” (1917) or “Down By the O-Hi-O” (1921)

And if you did not have a player for them, you could get a Victor – Victrola. They ran from $15 to $300. The one that we have at the Pop Warner museum has two volumes, one when the doors are open, the music is loud and when the doors closed, the music is quieter.

Simon Brothers were a great place to get sweaters, coats, suits and more, H.S. Smith was where to go for furs and that newfangled thing a Kodak Camera, to preserve your memories on Christmas morning.

Now if you wanted to be practical, you could go to Bement and Brooks and get the newest and best vacuum cleaner, or a Socony heater — those heaters would run for up to 8 hours and burned clean.

Let’s not forget the kids! Tinker toys were 50 cents, a doll — even a talking doll — were from 5 cents to 2 dollars. Trains (and who does not love a train on Christmas morn!) was 1 dollar to 4 dollars, board games were from 5 cents to 1 dollar. Candy and cookies, along with fruit, would fill their stockings. All of these items could be purchased at W.B. Weir store.

What about that fruitcake, cookies or candy? We had some awesome bakeries here in town. Seibert’s Bakery had Hot Cross Buns, Springerlee Cakes, Almond Macaroons Christmas Stollas, Almond Rings, Coffee cakes and fresh home made and salt rising Bread, that could be served on the special morning.

Steven Spaulding offered some great deals in getting your photograph taken in his studio. What a great gift idea to give to family members not nearby!

In 1915, the Citizens National Bank of Springville created a Christmas Club,  where you could join and save a little money each week getting the lump sum two weeks before Christmas. This made it easier to buy all the presents. They continued this club for years and years.

You can come down to the Lucy Bensley Center during the Christmas break and enjoy reading through all of our old local newspapers (yes, you can read these are online here) and giggle at the old ads and articles.

We have local genealogy done by others here in our book shelves, and records for the Civil War and history. Our hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and we are located at 23 N. Buffalo St. Our email is lucybensleycenter@gmail.com, or call us at 592-0094. We are part of the Concord Historical Society Campus, 17 Franklin St., which includes the Heritage Building, Concord Mercantile and Pop Warner Museum.

Do you have any interesting papers, photos or items in your family? We would love to see them! I might even use them to work up a story if you would like me to. Any ideas for articles here in the paper, email me and let me know.

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