Just about everyone likes to turn the memory clock back at this time of year. Even Scrooge found some forgotten joy in his time travel with the Ghost of Christmas Past.

For many of us who have lived in the Twin Cities for 50 or more years, there was something very special about the holidays and the excitement of shopping at Peck’s department store and dozens of shops on Lisbon Street.

This year, I looked at some other businesses of Lewiston and Auburn that also are remembered fondly, and the holiday ads of 1950 in the Lewiston Daily Sun and Lewiston Evening Journal will ring a few bells.

Auburn drew many shoppers to Snow’s at 106 Turner St. and to Higgins Appliance and Furniture, 145 Turner St. Wilson’s Dollar Store was a smaller department store on Court Street.

Another of the Auburn appliance stores was Twaddle-Mitchell at 40 North Main St., an area that was greatly transformed by urban renewal in later years.

Roland Maheu Television and Radio in Auburn was one place where a family might purchase one of the newest cabinet TV models, such as a Motorola with “life-size 16-inch screen,” automatic record changer, and AM/FM radio.

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For those with interests in photography, a Kodak darkroom outfit could be bought at Bill’s Photo Shop, 74 Mill St. in New Auburn.

Peck’s wasn’t the only store that billed itself as Lewiston and Auburn’s Toyland. There was Woodworth’s Toy Store at the Lewiston end of the North Bridge. It featured electric trains and 8 mm movie projectors.

The Twin Cities had many stores with lunch counters where shoppers could take a break. Among them were J.J. Newberry, Kresge’s and the F.W. Woolworth Five and Dime store.

Nichol’s Tea Room and Purity Restaurant were popular spots near the “head of the street” at Lisbon and Main in Lewiston. Within just the past few years, it was still possible to see the sidewalk entrance tiles announcing “Purity” at the former location of the business.

Near the Purity Restaurant was Glenwood Bakery, “home of tasty pastries,” 10 Park St. Glenwood Bakery suggested a long list of Christmas dinner goodies in keeping with traditions of several nationalities. Stollen, a German fruitcake, sold for 59 cents. There was Swedish rye bread, French pastries, as well as German Springerli cookies and Pfeffernusse cookies, which were popular for the holidays in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Mac’s Variety Store, 220 Court St., Auburn, was a popular gathering place, and Seavey’s store across the street also had a soda fountain. It was a welcome and warm spot for travelers to wait for their Greyhound bus connection.

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In 1950, the Korean War was intruding on the holiday spirit. A North Korean offensive was expected at Christmas, but the Twin Cities offered lots of special holiday destinations where L-A residents could get their minds off the worries of war.

Auburn’s Elm Hotel was advertising “a superb Christmas dinner served in the pleasant, home-like atmosphere of ‘The Hunt Room.'”

A Christmas Eve dance was planned at Lewiston City Hall, with dancing from midnight to 4 a.m. to music of the Lloyd Rafnell Orchestra. For New Year’s night, the famous Ray Anthony Orchestra was coming to the Lewiston Armory. Advance tickets were $1.50.

When the hustle and bustle of shopping was done, the Twin Cities offered several movie theaters. In 1950, the holiday shows included “The Toast of New Orleans” starring Mario Lanza at the Auburn Theater; war movies at the Empire and the Ritz; and “Summer Stock” with Gene Kelley and Judy Garland at the Priscilla.

For those who chose to stay home, radio station WLAM (“1470 on your dial”) ran a large schedule of Christmas shows from Dec. 23 through Christmas Day. The broadcasts included “Christmas with Crosby,” “Fred Waring Carols,” “Sammy Kaye’s Sunday Serenade,” “Sinatra Sings Carols” and “Como’s Christmas Hymns.”

WCOU, the other local station, was broadcasting a Christmas Eve dramatic presentation of “A Christmas Carol.”

The downtown districts of Lewiston and Auburn changed a lot in the coming years. Twenty-five years later, in 1975, there were large stores appearing outside the downtowns of L-A. King’s was one such store at 600 Center St., Auburn. Northwood Plaza on outer Main Street in Lewiston was developing rapidly, and Cinema I and II had become the area’s major movie houses.

Dave Sargent is a freelance writer and a native of Auburn. He may be reached by email: [email protected]


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