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Christmas around the Square, 1931

December 1931 found much of the world mired in economic depression. In America, a deflationary spiral continued; the money supply, industrial output, and the stock market all seemed headed for the basement as unemployment increased; and property foreclosures occupied more and more column-inches in newspapers across the nation.


But meanwhile, around the Square in Columbia, any number of merchants offered nice lines of Christmas finery for those fortunate enough to have a bit of discretionary jingle-jangle in their pockets. In the fashion of the era, however, no Christmas ads appeared until after Thanksgiving.

Lany Bray & Co., in the east corner of the square, offered "a lovely tie, a nice pair of kid gloves, beautiful scarf, silk sox, or one of our new Elder shirts, 98c and $1.50" for the gentleman. A half-page in the December 2nd paper touted a plethora of other tempting Christmas goodies -- and a chance to meet Santa Claus himself in the store on Saturday, December 5th.

Near the south corner, Miss Lula Jones reminded her customers that with Christmas gifting in the air, "Hummingbird Full Fashioned Hosiery packed in individual gift boxes makes the ideal present for mother, wife, sister, daughter."

Paull Drug in the west corner carried an assortment of eye catching gifts for grown ups as well as "dolls of all kinds" for the wee folk, and Brown Drug in the Jones Block offered a potpourri of tempting items for the adults, dolls in a wide variety of price points, and "trains and other mechanical toys that will fascinate the little ones, both boys and girls."

The Royal Cafe, near Miss Lula Jones and Brown Drug, suggested Whitman's Candies as "a delightful, though inexpensive luxury" gift, just right for one's family -- or one's best girl.

For those with a lot of discretionary funds, Columbia Motor Co. suggested the gift of a new Ford featuring "syncro mesh -- free wheeling -- 60 horse power -- 65 to 70 miles per hour," prices not given. (Chevrolet prices started at $475, f.o.b. Flint, Mich.) Bennett Motor Co., just off the square on Burkesville Street, invited customers to "please the whole family" for Christmas with a new Plymouth.

H.R. Moore, near the west corner of the square, promised "Bountiful gifts for everyone," and Broaddus Grocery, "the store around the corner" (just off the square on the entry side of Burkesville Street), proclaimed having "everything you will be needing for the holiday table," and offered free home delivery for patrons who dialed the store at 132.

Barger Bros., in the south corner, also offered tempting foodstuffs, "everything the most particular housekeeper could desire at this time," including mixed nuts, candied fruits, oranges, bananas, grapes, and fancy groceries.

Lerman Bros., then located near the north corner, offered a vast array of clothing and accessory gift ideas, including many items for a dollar or less and a free doll with every ten dollar purchase.

Insurance agent C.R. Barger gamely suggested a "policy for the growing son or daughter;" Columbia's power supplier, Kentucky Central, offered, for 75 dollars installed, "what mother really wants" -- an electric range; the First National Bank invited readers to open new accounts, "the family gift;" and Davis Hardware at the exit corner of Jamestown Street thriftily suggested utilitarian household articles such as tea pots, coffee pots, frying pans, and double boilers as the way to go.

Other merchants, such as Crawford Gatlin in the Russell & Co. Building and the nearby I.G.A. store, simply wished everyone a joyous Christmas season.

This story was posted on 2021-12-09 08:34:18
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Christmas around the Square, 1931

2021-12-09 - Columbia, KY - Photo courtesy JIM.
At left: Miss Lula Jones began working for Albin Murray near the south corner of the square in the 19-teens and continued at the same place when he sold to Dohoney & Dohoney. She stayed when Mr. Murray repurchased the enterprise in 1921, bought it from him about 1925, and ran it solo until she retired in the 1940s. This ad appeared in the December 09, 1931 Adair County News.

At right: Royse & Royse located (I believe) between the Russell & Co. Building and the east corner of the square, came on the Columbia business scene about 1928. J.C. Marshall bought it in 1943 and sold it to his brother Paul Marshall in 1945. This ad appeared in the December 23, 1931 Adair County News.

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Davis Hardware Christmas advertisement (ca 1931)

2021-12-09 - Columbia, KY - Photo courtesy JIM.
Davis Hardware, which both followed and preceded Jeffries Hardware, operated on the exit corner of Jamestown Street from 1920 until the forepart of 1954. This ad appeared in the December 16, 1931 Adair County News.

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