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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The "Memorable Christmas Family Traditions" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Looking through a box of old photos that my oldest son Derek just dropped off.  Seems he had plans to to go through all the old family photos I had accumulated over the years while he was recuperating from knee surgery, but never got around to finishing the chore.  The box of photos were primarily all photos of our family since Carol and I were married.  Fun to sit and look through them with Carol.  Brought back memories of all the great times in our lives.  A few of them I felt compelled to scan and keep for future stories.  
Santa climbs the ladder as Carol holds our
8 month old Derek and I take the photo.
Today's story will deal with a black and white that I took on November 20, 1971, the year Derek was born.  Photo was taken in downtown Lancaster on a cold day in late fall of the year.  Carol and I decided that we needed to start the tradition of taking our children to visit downtown Lancaster on the Saturday when Santa Claus arrived for the Christmas Holidays. I have written stories in the past few years on this blog about my adventures going with my parents to see Santa arrive and have added a few stories that Carol remembers about her visits including visits to welcome Santa while she was a member of her high school band.  
Santa used to arrive on Water Street in this steam engine.
Santa used to arrive by train with a steam engine pulling the train into Lancaster City along Water Street.  He would board a ladder fire truck at West King and Water Streets and travel the block and a half to the square in style.  Eventually the railroad ties were removed into downtown and Santa arrived by car where he would hop on the ladder truck at King and Water for the final journey to the square.  The photo I just found shows Santa climbing the fire ladder to the top of the Watt & Shand Department Store on the square in Lancaster.  
Watt & Shand department store in downtown Lancaster, PA.
This beautiful four story building of buff brick with terra cotta and marble ornamen- tation was done in the Beaux Arts style and dated back to the late 1800s.  After he reached the top of the store, he would go down the elevator to the basement where he would greet visitors shortly afterward.  I remember my mom taking me to see Santa in the basement, since this guy was "SANTA CLAUS" and in the late 1940s there were no other Santas but the Watt & Shand Santa, but Carol and I never took any of our kids to the basement in Watt & Shand, since the line would wind throughout the store on the day he arrived and on later dates it was easier to visit Santa at the nearby Lancaster Shopping Center.  The memories all came back as I looked at the black and white photo showing Santa climbing the ladder.  Funny how some photographs always bring back such pleasant memories of times past in our lives.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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