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Saturday, 28 November 2020 20:35

Christmas Windows In Santa Fe - 1960

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Before shopping malls, big box emporiums, and Amazon, Santa Fe stores like Sebastian's Firestone and Cartwright's Hardware carried a wide diversity of products.  In addition to tires, Sebastian's sold appliances, kitchen implements, toys, Lionel trains, fishing equipment, dishes, glassware, American Flyer bicycles, and Zenith radios and television sets.  The biggest downtown store was Sears, which sold everything.

I worked for Sebastian's Firestone store in 1960, when I was 15.  During the week before Thanksgiving, all of the Santa Fe downtown merchants covered their display windows on the inside and prepared for Christmas. That year, I was given the job of preparing the windows. Sebastian's had 2 of them and I was given free rein, as long as I presented a cross-section of what was inside. On one side I displayed snow tires, tire chains, a pyramid of motor oil cans, tools, windshield ice scrapers, an assortment of auto parts, and a bicycle.  Ah, but the other side was the most fun.  On the floor was a Christmas tree,surrounded by a running Lionel train set, complete with smoke coming out of the stack.  I leaned a Flexible Flyer sled against the wall and suspended model airplanes from the ceiling in an imaginary dogfight (Revell would send completed versions of their models with Christmas orders). There was a small table set with Christmas themed dishware, a corner with a fishing rod and lures, and as many of the season's most popular toys as possible.  A Barbie doll, an Easy-Bake oven, a Chatty Cathy doll, an Erector Set, a Radio Flyer wagon, and a set of Roy Rogers pistols.  In the center was the latest TV set from Zenith, which had a free-standing picture tube above the cabinet that contained the electronics.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, the windows were uncovered and Santa Fe came out to look.  I was in the window putting the train back on the tracks when some of my friends from St. Mike's came by and started giving me a hard time.  I went into the store, got one of the brand-new GI Joe dolls, and put him and Barbie in what you could describe as a compromising position.  They started laughing, not because I was so clever, but because they could see Mr. Sebastian behind me with a scowl on his face.  He was not amused and almost fired me on the spot.  But he chewed me out and I promised not to do it again.

One of the benefits of working there was that I learned how to assemble things.  Bikes, wagons, doll houses, trains, and the afore-mentioned TV set all came in boxes and had to be put together.  I was able to market my skills to my parent's friends and, for the next few years I spent Christmas Eve assembling the toys that they bought for their kids.  I would start around 10:00 and finish at 4:00 in the morning.

The Friday after Thanksgiving wasn't black like it is today. 

It was magical!

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