We still have 10 shopping days until Christmas and I’m going to do a little time-travel window shopping.
You might like to come along. It’s Dec. 14, 1950, and we will take a walk along Lewiston’s busy Lisbon Street, thanks to a warm and comfortable seat in front of a computer screen showing archived pages of the Lewiston Evening Journal.
It was an exciting time for a young boy like me as throngs of shoppers filled the sidewalks and stores. The principal destination for me and my brother on that shopping trip with my mother was probably a visit with Santa at his throne in Peck’s department store, but I enjoyed every store’s holiday displays.
Jim Wellehan, president of Lamey Wellehan Shoes, also recalls those times.
“I was probably in the fifth grade and I still believed in Santa,” he told me. “My mother wasn’t going to take me to see Santa at Peck’s, but I went anyway.”
Wellehan’s memories also included the sidewalk crowds near Liggett’s Rexall Drug Store. It was a landmark at “the head of the street” where buses loaded and dropped off passengers. In those days, three or four buses would be lined up waiting to pull over to the curb, and most of them were packed with people standing and holding onto seats and straps.
“There was a real sense of community then,” Wellehan said. “Everyone knew everybody else. I don’t think there could ever be another time like it.”
His family’s 97-year-old business, now in Auburn, also had a familiar Lisbon Street presence in later years.
In 1950, Day’s Jewelry Store was still at its original location at 84 Lisbon St. Its Christmas feature that week was a Schick electric razor for $24.50. You could get it for no money down and 50 cents a week.
Rogers Jewelry Store, 33 Lisbon St., featured a lot of kitchen and household goods as well as rings and necklaces.
Another of the several jewelry stores was Henry Nolin Jeweler doing business at 79 Lisbon St.
Lisbon Street also had numerous women’s stores including Frances Stores, Reid and Hughes, Senter’s, Janelle’s and Ward Brothers.
Lewiston Hardware and Plumbing Supply Co. was the handyman’s destination, and Berry Paper Co. was next door.
The Surplus Store at 56 Main St. was another fascinating stop for young boys. Displays of Army and Navy clothing and equipment sent imaginations racing.
New England Furniture and Atherton Furniture at Lisbon and Pine streets also were well-known establishments, as was the F.X. Marcotte furniture store on Lincoln Street. That store was already half a century old, and it would still be going strong in these early years of the 21st century.
Families didn’t have wallets filled with plastic credit cards, but the postwar era was the beginning of a more liberal feeling about borrowing. There were lots of loan companies that did a big business around Christmas time. They included M-A-C Finance, Household Finance, Public Loan Corp., Progressive Loan Co. and Local Finance Co.
Auburn’s downtown streets also had ample shopper destinations. My memories include Flander’s Clothing Store, because it was the Boy Scout uniform and equipment dealer in a section of its lower level. Packard’s Drug Store and its popular soda fountain was next door to Flanders, and just across Mechanic’s Row was the Auburn Theater, with the retail shop of Roak the Florist at its entrance.
Anderson and Briggs Drug Store at Court and Main had some memories for me, too. My parents often stopped there to fill prescriptions, and that usually meant a wait. That was all right with me. I loved the chance to spend time at the revolving rack of comic books where I could check out the latest Disney publication, or the new Tarzan, Roy Rogers or Gene Autry issue.
I usually bought one or two of the dime comics, and I still have a few of them.
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Dave Sargent is a freelance writer and a native of Auburn. He can be reached by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.