Welcome back readers! I find it hard to believe that as we wake up tomorrow, Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day will be starring us right in the face! All that turkey and stuffing, potatoes, gravy, baked corn and pumpkin pie…I just can’t wait. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!
Several special memories come to mind this time of year. The first would be of course, Thanksgiving Day and having all the family around. My father’s side of the family was large so if we didn’t have aunts and uncles at our house, we went to their house where there were always lots of people. The second special memory would be that of my father preparing for the first day of deer season. I can still see him gathering his Woolrich coat and pants, his felted boots and several packs of foot warmers, and what seemed like an awful lot of food, all for a long, cold day in the mountains.
My fondest memory, of course, is that of downtown Shippensburg during the holidays. It’s alway around the holidays that my mind begins to get a little nostalgic and wonder what Shippensburg was like before the early ‘70s when I was a kid.
I have memories of when Santa and his reindeer hung high above the railroad tracks on the square and I couldn’t wait to see this display each year. I remember too, how I couldn’t wait for my parents to take us downtown to see Santa in his house on the square, and how the town seemed so magical back then. I
can only imagine what a great time it must have been to have so many stores to go in and out of, shopping for just the right gifts for everyone on your Christmas list!
This offering of the Blast is the first of a series that will run throughout the Christmas season and hopefully bring back memories for those who remember what it was like to spend the holidays in Shippensburg. My hope is that when something I mention, be it a store or a business or a particular item that
brings back a memory, you’ll feel inclined to give me a call and talk about what used to be, and allow me to share your memories with our readers. After all, isn’t sharing those memories of the past part of what makes the past such a blast?
To kick off this series, I began going through my collection of old newspapers, starting with Nov. 21, 1952. I didn’t get too far when I began jotting down a list of all of the different stores and businesses that made up downtown Shippensburg back then. I was amazed at how much variety there was, the difference in prices then versus today, and the amount of advertisements and how each store had their own little tagline.
Kirssin’s Department at 32 East King Street boasted that they offered, ‘something for everyone on your list, from infants to grandma and grandpa,’ while The Towne Shoppe at 43 West King Street noted, ‘gifts for your favorite, from your favorite Christmas store!’
Weaver & Gates were selling Freeman’s Wing Tipped shoes for men starting at $8.95 up to as much as $15.95. Imagine buying a good pair of men’s shoes today for $15.95…and do they still sell wing tipped shoes?
Shippensburg Hardware Company on the square was apparently ‘the headquarters for Lionel and American Flyer trains,’ and Hollanders must have had a great ‘Toyland’ at 44 East King Street. For all those husbands who didn’t know what to buy their wives for Christmas, I’m sure something from Swopes Jewelry at 64 East King, or a new Tappan gas range from John A. Franklin Appliances at 87 West King Street would’ve made the Mrs. very happy. Or, how about ladies wear from Thompson’s at 65 East King Street, or a 7 piece bedroom suite from Brener’s Furniture Store for only $159!
Harold W. Kauffman Appliances at the corner of Orange and Morris streets was giving away a free holiday turkey with the purchase of an L & H electric range, starting at only $194.95. Miller Reed Dairy was having a special deal on ice cream for the holidays, only 25 cents a pint or two for 49 cents, all flavors.
A half gallon would set you back 98 cents while a whole gallon was only $1.95.
I couldn’t help but notice how the local grocery stores competed for each shopper’s business. The Acme Super Market offered ‘Toms Turkeys’ at 16 pounds and over for 57 cents per pound, while Cressler’s Fruit Market was selling ‘dressed and drawn’ young Toms between 15 and 18 pounds for 49 cents a pound. I
guess it all came down to which store you liked best.
Many of the restaurants in town offered special pricing on holiday meals too. The M & N Restaurant on Lurgan Avenue offered Thanksgiving Day dinner from noon to 6 p.m. I don’t remember this restaurant, but if anyone has a photo, I’d love to see it! How about the ‘Friendly Restaurant?’ Anyone ever heard of this place? The advertisement didn’t have an address…I would think an important detail such as an address should be included, especially if you wanted folks to patronize your business? Even the Sugar Bowl offered a full course holiday meal that cost $2 for adults and $1.25 for children under 12!
I’ve mentioned a variety of stores that used to grace the downtown landscape, but there were so many more that weren’t mentioned, though not intentionally. Different generations have different memories; that’s what makes the past so much fun to talk about! Do you have a favorite store where you used to
shop, or maybe a favorite place your parents took you to in downtown Shippensburg for the holidays? What were some of the popular items and name brands back in your heyday? Did you sit on Santa’s lap when you were little? What kinds of presents did you ask for? If a certain memory comes to mind and you would like spend some time talking about downtown
Shippensburg during the holidays, please give me a call at: (717) 446-4577 or send me an email at: email@example.com. I never miss an opportunity to hear a good story or share a few memories!
Until next week, Happy Thanksgiving!
Oh, and good luck to all the hunters out there. May all your bucks be big ones, and don’t think about the big bucks your wife will be spending while you’re in the woods; hunting season and the holidays only come once a year!