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Christmas draws near, December 1933

In mid-December 1933, the Great Depression had just entered its fifth year, unemployment nationally had soared to almost twenty-five percent, and many prices were higher.

But meanwhile, back in The Shire...

By Jim

A casual glance through the Adair County News of eighty-five years ago -- mid-December 1933 -- might have given the casual reader just awaking from a long winter's nap the impression the worst of times has passed and the best of times had arrived.

A top-of-the-column page one article headlined "Christmas Draws Near" pointed out the holiday spirit had fallen upon the local merchants, that "Their windows are beautifully decorated in keeping with the approaching season and never have more attractive or more useful gifts been offered the public at prices so reasonable."

And, of course, behind the tempting displays arranged by skilled window dressers lay stockpiles of goodies -- an attractive array of toys for the wee folk, a wide selection of gifts for the grownups, and a variety of every-day as well as special Yuletide viands at the grocery stores.

Davis Hardware touted the seriously practical gift by suggesting a "new parlor furnace" or "shiny new aluminum kitchenware" along with bicycles and wagons for the kiddies. Barger Bros. offered a selection of "candies, nuts, fruits, and fruit cake supplies" in addition to their usual stock of staple and fancy groceries.

H.R. Moore & Co. billed themselves as "Santa's Stopping Place" with everything from Elgin watches to belt sets to jewelry. The Economy 5c & 10c Store reminded readers "Our holiday goods were bought before higher prices went into effect, while the Royal Cafe appealed to the sweet tooth with boxes of luscious chocolates.

Both the Paull Drug Co. and the Brown Drug Co. had a wide-ranging stock of Christmas goods, and astute food shoppers could get some real bargains at J.F. Neat & Son grocery stores, as the Neats were closing up shop to pursue other business interests. Nineteen cents would buy a quart of peanut butter, while fifteen cents would buy two cans of jack mackerel, two boxes of puffed wheat cereal, or three bars of Lifebuoy soap.

Russell & Co. offered deals on selections from the main floor as well as from the balcony, basement, and the damaged goods departments -- everything from smoking stands to silk undies. The Royse Variety Store had childrens' books priced at five cents to half a dollar, wagons and velocipedes at a buck-fifteen to three-twenty-five, and mechanical toys priced lower than during the previous Christmas season. Other Variety Store specials included glassware, toiletries, and chinaware.

Miss Lula Jones carried a complete line of ladies' wear -- foundation garments to accessories, including Humming Bird Hosiery at eighty-nine cent to a dollar-fifty per pair -- along with a solid line of furniture, mattresses, and bedding goods. Miss Jones promised shoppers they would pay "Lowest prices on all merchandise."

Lerman Bros. offered a wide selection of clothing and other items, including childrens' leatherette helmets, twenty-nine cents, and the choice of umbrellas or three-piece ivory sets (comb, brush, and mirror) at ninety-eight cents to a dollar-ninety-eight.

Those who wished to look their best for a holiday soiree could get their clothes cleaned or pressed by Patteson & Stotts, phone 81-A. (This was the same Patteson & Stotts of funeral home fame, but by this time, the undertaking establishment was Coffey & Stotts.)

This story was posted on 2018-12-16 13:35:31
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