By WILLIAM J. KELLY
Have you ever gone back to your old hometown? The Christmas Epiphany was Jan. 6th and the last of the season’s decorations have been put away. I thought about the brilliant star that led the Magi to the stable in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. Then for some reason, while thinking about that, my mind traveled back to my youngster days in my home town at Christmas time.
I grew up in a small river town of about 2,800 people. My star took me back to the approximately two-block business district in the 1920s before The Great Depression. The town’s business area was just off the river’s shore, which had a boat yard where the boats for the Lewis & Clark expedition were built. Then came the railroad tracks, busy with smoke belching steam engines hauling coal from the mines up river. Then came the two-block business district.
It was very exciting for a 7-year-old boy at Christmastime. It was a bustling area, full of people because most people walked in those days, but still the curbs had many model T cars parked there. All the stores had Christmas displays in their windows and of course there was the Salvation Army Santa Claus in front of Murphy’s 5 and 10 cent store ringing his bell. Red, green, blue and yellow lights were every where, getting everyone in the Christmas spirit.
Of course I was only interested in the windows with toys for good boys and girls. There was the Stanier hardware store with the American Flyer electric train running around all the other toys in the window. Next door was the candy store whose Christmas-decorated candies somehow found their way into my long, black stocking hung on our fireplace mantel.