Christmas on 2nd Street, just north of Willis Ave, in Winter 1942 (left) and on December 15, 2017 (right).
Welcome to the Christmas edition of the Hometown Heritage blog! Today, we’ll be taking a trip down memory lane, looking at some historic Christmas decorations as well as reminiscing about how Perry’s business district has changed over time.
The photos above show the home of Perry’s Lighted Christmas Parade (2nd Street, just north of Willis) in 1942 and 2017. While we haven’t had any measurable snow yet this year, the 1942 photo shows Perry residents and businesses coping with a recent heavy snowfall. Festive garlands encircle 2nd Street’s light poles, while garlands and wreaths were suspended for several blocks over Perry’s commercial district.
The 1942 photo also shows several businesses of the day. A Philco Hall Maytag Co. office is on the west side (left) of the street, where the Crisis Intervention & Advocacy Center is today, and a car dealership used to reside in today’s Josh Davis Memorial Plaza. Robinson’s Clothing can be seen on the east side (right) of the street, which had overcoats on sale for $14, $16, or $24. In the alley south of the store, part of a large painted advertisement for OshKosh B’Gosh can also be seen.
Christmas on 2nd Street, just north of Lucinda St, in late Fall c. 1951 (left) and December 15, 2017 (right).
On a rather warm day in late fall, likely in 1951, Perry residents set to decorating 2nd Street for Christmas. Once again, suspended garlands hung over the street, this time, adorned with large stars and bells.
The date for this photo can be narrowed down by the movie on the Perry theater marque, Francis Goes to the Races. This picture, a sequel, was a black-and-white filmed comedy from Universal released in May 1951, which told the story of a talking mule and his owner who becomes entangled with the mob. The Perry Theater likely didn’t get this film right away, so it was showing later that year.
A number of 1950’s businesses can also be seen in this photo. On the west side (left) of the street, Rosie’s Café served food where today’s Eye Care Associates is located, the Perry Gas Co. did business in 2017’s H&R Block building, and the Perry Daily Chief newspaper was housed on the west side of the street. In addition, one of Perry’s furniture stores – Bennett-McDaniel Furniture – can be seen between Rosie’s Café and the Perry Gas Co. On the other side of the street, a sandwich shop is located near the end of the block and a Sinclair Gasoline H-C sign is visible just past this. In the center of the photo toward the back, a car can also be seen stopped at the railroad crossing, waiting for the train to go by.
Christmas at the Carnegie Library. Left: Librarian Marian Krohnke sits by the fire (c. 1953). Right: The Festival of Trees (December 15, 2017).
The Carnegie Library also got into a festive spirit. The photo on the left, showing Librarian Marian Krohnke, dates to around 1953. While she isn’t sitting next to a roaring fire, the fireplace mantle displays a nativity scene.
Today, the Carnegie Library Museum hosts the Festival of Trees. Carnegie volunteers Katie Schott and Laura Stebbins organize this annual event, in which local businesses, churches, and organizations set up festive displays, each vying for visitor votes in this fundraising and cheer-raising event. The photo on the right is just the tip of the iceberg that is the 39 (!) displays, which can be viewed through the end of this month (see the schedule below for holiday hours). Make sure to stop in and see this festive exhibit!
We at Hometown Heritage would like to thank all of our wonderful volunteers, visitors, and supporters this year, and wish you and yours very happy holidays!