A place to recall and celebrate the wonderful stores of a Downtown Boston now alive only in our memories

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Christmas In Boston 1956

Hello, My Fellow Retro Boston Lovers!

I want to express my sincerest holiday greetings to each and every one of you!!
Christmas is upon us once again and it’s time for my traditional retro Boston holiday update...and this year is a knock-out collection!

Think of this update as a retro Boston Christmas stocking just bursting at the seams with SO many goodies for you to enjoy....a nostalgic blast of Boston’s past! This update includes numerous store print ads from downtown Boston as well as some stores located in other parts of the city, a few holiday themed articles, some inventive retro photos and a little touch of “other fun holiday notions” as well.

Requests come into my hands all year in preparation for this very special update. Some folks want a look at more of the smaller Boston stores that once filled the downtown and a taste of the Christmas shopping hours for the month of December in the year I have selected to highlight.

I aim to please....as always....so Santa, the elves and a few nimble reindeer joined me in the huge hunting and gathering exercise that hopefully will delight and touch all the many eager readers out there.

This year I have selected 1956 as the year our retro Boston Christmas time travelling machine will return to. Why 1956?

1956 was the last Christmas that downtown Boston housed seven...SEVEN (WOW!!!)...department stores to frolic in. In June of 1957, Boston would mourn the loss of R.H. White’s...a very beloved shopping paradise. December of 1956 press ads were heavy with R.H. White’s presence; one wonders now if this was a plea (that included some of the most generous extended evening shopping hours of all the BIG Boston stores) for extra business during their final swing downward?

1956 saw Jordan Marsh beginning work on the third unit (or section) of the new building that it had begun constructing back in the late 1940’s. Readers will note the words “unit” and “new” still being used to describe various sections of the new building in many print ads.

1956 was truly a year that Boston was alive with crowds, twinkling lights and festive merriment...still very much the shopping center for most of New England.

Now this year I toss you a challenge.....oh, yes!! Let the games begin!!
I know many of you will be lounging around, full of Christmas punch...and lots of good cheer...you need a little party game, of sorts. I have just the one...especially if you have some fellow retro Boston lovers in your midst.

Here it is...and I hope you are able to rise to my yuletide challenge!!

Find as many “taglines”...or store slogans as you can in these ads that I have lovingly plucked from the month of December 1956. These store slogans or holiday “taglines” may be just for Christmas or used more often during the whole retailing year. If you look very carefully...click on each for a better view...you should be able to locate a nice assortment. Be aware that some stores had more than one of these slogans or “taglines” in use at any given time...keep your eyes alert!!! Send me an email with your findings...and I shall publish the list that is the most complete on the blog in the New Year and crown that person (or team) as the “Retro Boston Store Slogan Master of 1956”.

Take your time...those nimble reindeer love to be sneaky in hiding slogans where you least expect to find them!!

I also tossed in another little Christmas treat for you to locate. I have included an ad from the shop I worked at part-time during my years in college (1983-6). I shall provide only a few small clues to the identity for you to use in your search. Now this shop was located in downtown Boston and was in the same classic building for all of the 20th century and closed just few years ago to become an online based retailer. Have a peek....where do you think I worked??? Send me an email if you think you found it!

Now enjoy this look back at Boston in 1956. Note the fact that many of the BIG stores had their own Santa to visit and Gilchrist’s even had a merry-go-round to ride...just for Xmas!

Other points of interest I enjoyed discovering from 1956:

*Filene’s invited choirs to come down to Boston and sing outdoors above the main doors on the corner of Summer and Washington Streets. They also provided a “red carpet” down the center aisle of the street floor to welcome the masses of Christmas shoppers with style!

*Jordan Marsh had a Christmas Caravan of jolly folks that visited children all over the city and provided gifts and good cheer to those less fortunate....yes....1956 was a time of giving as well as receiving.

*Jay’s on Temple Place had a “Jay Belle” to help you find the perfect gift...especially if you were a man lost in this feminine house of delights!
*Store shopping hours increased with added nights open as the month of December moved along to the Big Day!

*The crowds were record breaking and the streets were packed....glowing store windows were filled with displays....Boston held so many places to locate that “unique” gift for Aunt Harriet, Uncle Arnold or little Susie Swanson down the road.

Enjoy, read, remember, and most of all...celebrate the rich retro Christmas past of dear, old Boston!





PS...Thanks to all my loyal readers....another wonderful year of participation and shared memories!
Keep writing....sharing.....YOU are keeping Boston’s retro history alive!!!

PPS....Don't forget....I am still working on my Jordan Marsh memory project. Write me!!!!