(In the last blog entry we were taking a walk into the past on La Farge’s Main Street on a busy Saturday night at Christmastime. The time is in the early 1950’s – a time when the village’s stores were packed with shoppers buying presents for the holidays. Our stroll had led us down the north side of Main Street, where we had paused in front of the Mars Theater. As we cross the street and head towards the La Farge State Bank, we will conclude that stroll through years of yore.)
The bank is closed and dark, they are never open at night, 9 to 3 only, Monday through Friday, but little one’s like us wouldn’t go in there anyway. Listen to the music coming out of the Club LaFarge. We can’t go in there either or the tavern across the street, they are not for little kids like us, although my folks occasionally like to stop in after the grocery store is closed. Boy, it looks smoky in Mac’s Pool Hall. We’re not old enough to go in there either, but we can stare through the front windows at the older boys and men shooting pool and playing cards way in the back.
Next door, the Cash Store is really doing a business as the area’s farm families come to town for their weekly purchase of groceries. Dutch Carpenter will be busy at the cash register tonight. I imagine that things are just as busy at the other two grocery stores in town. I sometimes help my folks at their store next to the feed mill; I hope Charlie Z. can find his pipe tobacco tonight. Whenever I’m there in the store, he never seems to be able to find it without my help.
Let’s stop in to Harry Lounsbury’s Drug Store. Harry always has some neat stuff for Christmas, all kinds of boxes of candies and other goodies. Maybe I will buy my Grandma this nice package of talcum powder with a pretty powder puff. Let’s check out the soda fountain to see if any of the teenage couples are sharing a malted or cherry Coke. They all seem to be talking about the big win the Wildcat boys had in basketball last night at Soldiers Grove. La Farge never seems to loose any of their basketball games, but they are supposed to have a really tough one coming up over Christmas vacation with a good team from Onalaska.
Next door, Doctor Gollin has the lights on in his office and there are people in the waiting room. He seems to work day and night for this little town. We could stick our head in the door and yell up the stairs at the “Central” telephone operator. That’s where Abelt's have the phone switchboard and the operator would place a call for you, especially if you were a country kid and needed a ride home. You wouldn’t even have to tell her the number, as she knows everybody’s number and all the “shorts” and “longs”. Sometimes when the boys are playing a basketball game away, a fan will call her from Gays Mills or wherever and she gets the word out that the Wildcats have won another one.
Another grocery store is next to the doctor’s office; Dick Gabrielson owns this one. His grocery store is in a new building, made of cement blocks and just put up last year. There is a line at the cash register here, too. As we keep walking, we come to another restaurant, the Band Box Café. I can hear music coming from the juke box in there, so the curtains would be drawn open on the little band box hanging from the ceiling and the mechanical musicians will be playing their little hearts out. It looks like some of the Wildcat basketball players are sitting at a big table in the Band Box, probably having Pepsi’s, burgers and fries.
Let’s stop at the hardware store on the corner and look at the displays in the front windows. Wouldn’t one of those pocketknives be a nice gift to get for Christmas? You could do some serious whittlin’ with one of those beauties. Those are some nifty looking Daisy BB guns, too. A boy couldn’t go wrong receiving a gift like that, although you would have to be careful not to shoot your eye out. I might have to drop some hints to Santa Claus about something like that for a present when he comes to the firehouse for his annual visit on the Saturday before Christmas. There will be a free show that afternoon, too. I’ve heard that they’re going to have a Gene Autry western. Boy, won’t that be a swell day here in town! Maybe we can go ice-skating on the village skating rink right below the firehouse. We could get a good hockey game going with so many kids in town.
Wow, it’s getting late, it must be way past eight o’clock by now. We had better start for home. Those Christmas decorations hanging over Main Street sure are beautiful. Bright colored lights and fresh evergreen garland wrapped around each pole, too. The Mobil Gas Station on the corner is really busy as cars are being filled up before folks start their trip back home. The lights are on at the shoe shop just down the block. Mr. Wood is the cobbler and he can repair any kind of shoe or boot at his worktable in the back.
Let’s linger a little at Deibig Motors to look at the new Buick in the showroom. Wouldn’t that be a super gift for a family to get for Christmas! Of course, the Buicks cost more than the Chevy’s, so if you couldn’t afford a new Roadmaster, perhaps you could still “See The USA in a Chevrolet”.
Leo Smith is closing his gas station for the night; he has finished that last oil change and the car is backing out of the side door right next to where his big red fuel truck is parked on the side street. Look’s like the feed mill is closing, too, as the farmers have loaded up the last bags of grain into their pickups before heading home. My folks’ grocery store is really jammed with people tonight. Much too busy in there for a little boy to be running around, so I had better head upstairs.
The night’s business on the bustling little village’s Main Street is starting to slow as snow begins to fall from the sky. Isn’t it a beautiful sight?
Merry Christmas to all – may you all make it home for the holidays!