More Ramblings Down Memory Lane

That puzzle magazine continues to stir the memories long ago locked away in the remote recesses of my brain.

My original shopping center

As the calendar crept toward Thanksgiving, the merchants of our neighborhood would begin to order their Christmas wares. Note that I did not say they would display them; they would simply order them so they could be displayed soon after Thanksgiving.

Not shown in the above photo is the Crafton Heights First United Presbyterian Church – my first church home. The building sits back to the left of the telephone pole and car shown in the left corner of the picture. I point this out because shortly after Thanksgiving, a huge community Christmas tree would be erected in the church yard. The merchants would split the cost of the decorations and electricity to keep it lit throughout the season.

Back in the days when a letter could be mailed using a three cent stamp (Christmas cards could be sent for two cents if the envelopes were left unsealed) the U.S. Mail (this was long before the outfit changed its name) increased its service leading up to Christmas. We had our mail delivered twice – morning and afternoon – on Monday through Friday and once on Saturday. It kind of makes me wonder what happened. When they changed the name to Postal SERVICE, things seemed to go in the wrong direction.

Speaking of pennies, how many of you remember when you’d put twenty cents in a cigarette machine and get a pack of smokes that included two or three pennies in change?

I quit smoking more than ten years ago, but I’m told the price of a pack of cigarettes is now over $5.00! And there are no coins in the wrapper as change.

Another thing I remember about the Holidays was a company called Railway Express. Whatever happened to them? Quite often my family would receive a package sent by an uncle who spent his winters in Florida. That was the one time of year we’d have orange marmalade.

Come to think of it, winter was the only time our family had citrus fruit. As I recall, it simply wasn’t available any other time of the year. Of course, this could be said about most fresh produce. If it wasn’t grown in the U.S., it either wasn’t available or was too expensive for my family’s budget.

To this day I am amazed that our family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner at my parent’s home. When the twins got home from the Navy following World War II, a normal dinner would find mom and dad, my three brothers, and I gathered around a standard sized dining room table. With the other furnishings in the dining room, there wasn’t very much space for anything, or anyone, else. Yet, we somehow made room for the extended family on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The extended family included our two sisters, their husbands, and their combined four children. So, on those special occasions, we had eight adults and six children crowded into that same space. We must have had a “children’s” table, but I don’t remember it.

I do remember those 25 to 30 pound turkeys! Mom and our sisters really went all out to make sure no one left hungry.

If I’m not mistaken, Thanksgiving is only a week or so away. Time to fire up the cooker and make sure I have plenty of peanut oil.

Things will never match my memories, but then I wasn’t doing any of the cooking. My only job was to clean my plate. I was good at that. Come to think of it, I still am.

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