For displaced, misplaced, and nostalgic ex-Brooklynites

1950s Christmastime Downtown Brooklyn

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Posted by Richard in Albuquerque on Sunday, December 2nd 2018:

In the late 1950's, the Christmas season in Downtown Brooklyn offered a young child a variety of sights, sounds, and events certain to delight and thrill. The season began with our classes from St. Paul's School trooping down Court Street to sing Christmas Carols inside the Brooklyn Savings Bank. On a cold mid-December evening, the lighting of the Christmas tree in front of Borough Hall would feature local church choirs singing on the steps while crowds of us kids gathered round to "oohh" and "Aahhh" while the Red Cross ladies passed out small cups of hot chocolate and small sugared doughnuts.

But the best treat came along Fulton Street, from Nevins Street west to Smith Street. The Dime Savings Bank would hand out little cardboard Santa Clause stand-ups, similar to the Coca-Cola advertisements. All the stores from Mays, to McCrory's, to Namms-Losures (sp?, to Abraham & Strauss (A&S) would be gaudily decorated. Even Martin's Department Store hosted a Santa Claus to hear your wishes. A&S had animated displays in the street-front windows. The main hall, with the elevator banks, was brightly decked out with all manner of shinny and festive decorations topped off with a giant Christmas tree suspended from the center of the ceiling. Take one of the express elevators to Toy Land on the eighth floor and you were in heaven. There was a carousel in Santa Land, and a large electric train display to be explored. On every street corner, the Volunteers of America had a chimney with a "Santa" ringing a bell and seeking donations.

On the short walk home to Dean Street, we would pass two or three lots packed with evergreen trees and a used steel barrel in which a scrap wood fire burned. Reach down and pick up a stray balsam branch, break it and smell the signature scent of the season.

That was sixty years ago. Much has changed, including the little boy who remembers. It has been thirty-five, or forty years since last that boy strolled Fulton street. All of those stores have gone or changed names. What is this month like in 2018 along Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn. What memories will today's children have of this Christmas season? What memories, do you hold of this time?

Whatever beliefs you cherish, however you celebrate the cultural traditions within the guidelines of your faith, this former little boy of the 1950's wishes you "Season's Greetings."

Reference ID: BK95640


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