Past Tense

In the last “Past Tense,” I shared Ken Anderson’s memory of looking through the Sears Christmas catalog and how that spurred my own memories of doing the same. I discovered it depends on when and where you grew up as to whether the Sears Christmas Wish catalog was your source of toy selection.

My friend and long-time substitute teacher at Dunwoody Baptist Preschool, Connie Ludwick, grew up in San Bernardino and the store and catalog of her childhood was Montgomery Ward. The Montgomery Ward catalog was first issued in 1872 and the first Sears catalog was issued in 1888, well before the Sears Christmas Wish Book began in 1933.

Christmas for Connie included buying a tree with her family at a local tree lot where her uncle worked. Another special holiday memory for Connie is making Christmas cookies and popcorn balls with her mother. She would sing carols with her church and spend Christmas Day at her grandparent’s house, with aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Steve Griffeth and his older brother Jim grew up in Dunwoody in the 1960s. Jim recalls his class performing The Nutcracker in 1962 at Dunwoody Elementary School, when the school was located where the Dunwoody Library and North DeKalb Cultural Arts is located today. Jim also went caroling with other members of the school glee club.

Steve attended kindergarten in 1964 at Dunwoody Methodist Church. At Christmas, his class acted out the story of baby Jesus in the chapel, which was the main sanctuary at that time.

In the mid-1960s a lighted and decorated tree was placed on the lawn in front of Dunwoody Elementary School for the Christmas season. A tree lighting ceremony was held for the community during those years before the older part of the school building burned in 1967.

The Griffeth family went to a Christmas tree lot run by the Lions Club at Chamblee Plaza. On of their family traditions was a visit to downtown Rich’s to ride the Pink Pig and see Santa Claus. Steve and Jim enjoyed riding on the monorail ride which circled above Santa’s village on the roof of Rich’s.

Phil Stovall remembers the days when the Pink Pig was set up to travel above the toy department of Rich’s and then later moved to the roof. A trip to Rich’s also included a visit to Santa Claus and his igloo. Parents and children had to stand in a line that wound through the furniture and bedding department to ride an elevator up to see Santa. Phil’s family would also drive by the Christmas tree at Rich’s on Christmas Eve, on their way to a family gathering.

Christmas at Chamblee’s Camp Gordon in 1917 included a visit and singing concert by Margaret Wilson, daughter of President Woodrow Wilson. She sang a group of songs called “Songs of the Allies,” which included French and old English songs.

Thank you to everyone for sharing these fond memories of Christmas. Some traditions stay the same over the years and others change as our families and times change, but it is always fun to reminisce.

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