Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Shopping

During the mid-1960s, Seward did not have any large stores (maybe it still doesn't have any, for all I know), so it was not possible for a family to do much Christmas shopping in Seward.

I remember that I did buy some presents in the Kolterman family's "dime store", which also was called "Ben Franklin's". There, I remember, I bought some house decorations as presents for my Mom, and I bought model kits (model cars, model airplanes, etc.) for some of my brothers.

There was also the House of Davidson's, where I bought record albums. And there was the college bookstore, which was managed by Steve Roettjer's dad. The bookstore did not have much selection, but it was possible to special-order items from some catalogues that Mr. Roettjer had.

I remember also that I bought some Christmas presents through mail-order. I ordered comic books from Mad Magazine and gave them as presents. There were various other magazines that kids read (Boy's Life comes immediately to mind, but there were others too), and they had lots of advertisements for stuff you could order by mail.

Paperboys always could win prizes for selling subscriptions. There was a catalogue that illustrated and described the various prizes. If you sold two subscriptions, you could get such and such prizes, if you sold three subscriptions, you could get such and such prizes, etc. Anyway, I think there was an occasion when I got some such prize and gave it to someone else as a Christmas present.

In Seward in those days, people bought quite a lot of stuff by mail from companies like Sears and Montgomery Ward. Our family always had several big catalogues from such companies, and as Christmas approached we would look through those catalogues for present ideas and then often actually ordered the presents by mail.

A couple of times every Christmas-shopping season, our family also drove to Lincoln and spent an evening shopping. Lincoln had two big department stores. One was Gold's

and the other was Miller and Paine.

Besides these department stores, Lincoln had a variety of specialty stores that sold books, records, musical instruments, toys, sports equipment, and so forth. There were no such stores in Seward.

Our family had nine members -- the two parents and seven kids. We drew names for giving presents, so each kid bought presents only for one or two siblings. Our parents gave each of us some money to buy presents, and we older siblings who had paper routes also added some of our own earned money to buying presents. (I liked to buy presents and was glad to use some of my own money for that purpose.) Dad would give us some money to buy presents for Mom, and Mom would give us some money to buy presents for Dad.

We all would get into our station wagon and drive to Lincoln and park in the center of town. Each family member had a little bit of money. We would split up, with instructions to meet back at the car at a certain time. As I remember, it was OK for me (I was the oldest) and Steve (the second oldest) to walk around by ourselves. The younger siblings had to stay in groups -- some of the kids with Dad and some with Mom. We would spend two or three hours shopping in an area that was about three square blocks in the town center. Eventually we would meet, loaded with shopping bags, back at our car.

Many of our trips to Lincoln included a dinner at King's Restaurant. In this restaurant, the customers sat in booths, and each both had a telephone. The customers sitting in a booth would read their menu, decide what they wanted to eat, and then use the telephone to call their order to the kitchen. I thought that was a great way to run a restaurant, but I never saw another restaurant that was run that way.

Below is an interesting remembrance of the stores in downtown Lincoln during that period.
There was real shopping in downtown [Lincoln]. 
The State Theater was a popular movie place on the south side between 15th and 14th street. Dick’s Hobby was right across the street and carried models, trains, crafts and archery supplies. 
Hested’s department store was on the SW corner of 14th and O, the building later had an Ardan’s Jewelry store before a record store. 
Between 14th and 13th on the south side was the Toy Castle, a drug store, Lincoln’s first Little King sandwich shop and a jewelry store plus the ever-present Walgreens. On the north side was JC Penny’s (NE corner of 13th and O) and Hardy Furniture (mid block). 
On the SW corner of 13th and O was Miller & Paine Department Store. Magee’s clothing was at the SE corner of 12th and O. Across the street were the National Bank of Commerce (now Wells Fargo) and Hovland-Swanson ladies’ clothing. 
On the SW corner of 12th and O was an old SS Kresge’s dime store with FW Woolworth further down the block near 11th Street. Dietze Music was/is at 12th and O and Latsch’s Office Supply was between 11th and 12th. For many years there was a Lawlor’s Sporting Goods between 11th and 12th on the north side of O street. 
The classic dinosaur of a department store – Gold’s (later Brandeis, then back to Golds), with WT Grant store (later St. George and the Dragon restaurant) and the 1st National Bank was at 10th and O. To the north across O Street was Kuhl’s restaurant. 
On the SW corner of 10th and O in the Terminal Building which was home to both the Selective Service System offices and KFMQ radio.

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