t’s here. It’s here, the last month of the year. December, not counting the weather, short days and cold long nights, I would have to say its one of my favorites. What this month brings to mind, I hope is NO; not Bear season, but Christmas. Remember when you could not wait for Christmas break from school, and as a child the anticipation of presents.
For me I really enjoyed going to Harrisonburg in the mid 1960’s because of all the lights and excitement around Court Square. Did you ever think “did that really happen, or did I just dream it”? Well, this is the case with me. I remember a live nativity scene on the west lawn of the courthouse. Yes, the courthouse in Harrisonburg. Across from the Woolworths store. If anyone remembers this, please tell me, so I know I did not dream it. A place in time where the people actually celebrated the real reason for the season, and that, of course, is the celebration of God’s greatest gift to us, Jesus, born as a babe in Bethlehem. Music, a live nativity, and everyone celebrating Christmas…It sounds like a dream, does it not?
Boy, thinking of these days and times that brings to my mind an old saying “that would go over like a lead balloon wouldn’t it”? Actual Christmas music playing over speakers in front of the stores, and lights as bright as lights on a football field. To me these were my special memories.
For the newcomers to our area, I mentioned the Woolworths Store on Court square. It had parking in front of the business. Others were J.C. Penny’s (now the jail building), Dentons Furniture store, McCrory’s, Grants, Alfred’s Ney’s, Joseph Ney’s, Joe’s the Motorist Friend, down south main a little way was the State Theater AND the Virginia Theater, as well as, Leggett’s Store, and across the street was Wilson Jewelry’s. Jess’s Hotdogs was a big hit with Jess’s special chili.
As I remember some of the first fast food was Biff Burgers later renamed Kenny Burgers, and Burger Chef which was torn down and apartments built on the site. Whitsel’s Music was nearby and so was Valley Books. Parking was available around Court Square and only a few spots were reserved for the Judge, and court officials. And to me a child of the 50’s it was the good ole days. I do not know if it was because of my young age or if it actually was a simpler time. A time when people realized the real meaning of Christmas. The City of Harrisonburg actually held a Christmas Parade, until December 2015 when the name was changed to “holiday” parade.
Almost every church in our local area would have the Christmas recitations where the children would get up and mostly from memory recite a poem about that special time of year. The Christmas plays where mostly youths with a few adults who would perform a play with a wonderful meaning of Christmas.
I do not know if this was the way it was everywhere or if we were just that fortunate here in the valley. In a community where everyone knew almost everyone else and where people helped each other.
I remember a story about a man that came to a farmer that lived in Fulks Run. He told the farmer that it had been a rough fall. The cannery did not need as much help as normal, and he needed some help. The farmer told one of his children go down to the smokehouse and bring up a pork shoulder and some side meat. Another child he told to go to the cellar and get potatoes and canned goods for the needy man. And as I understood the story that was the way
it was then, neighbor helping neighbor.
I also remember in the store (Mac’s Superette) families would come in and buy their special Christmas meal groceries and supplies, such as oysters, oranges, candies, and yes, even salt fish. But for some, in a day where there was no such a thing as a credit card, this meant bringing out a binder book and alphabetically under their last name, they would write the amount of the charge to be paid at some future date.
Things have really changed, haven’t they? Try that at Wal-Mart or Food Lion today, they would think you were crazy.
As I’ve said before, these are as I remember them, as the years have slipped away, some memories are not as clear as they used to be, but I do want to remember this. And that is to let you know, it is my prayer that each and every reader has a great celebration of Jesus Birthday and a Happy New Year.
Believe it or not
Until next time