Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nashville Memories At Christmas


  For me Christmastime was magical as a child growing up in Nashville during the 1950's and early 1960's. There were no malls and the vast majority of Christmas shopping was done downtown. Downtown Nashville was a madhouse with thousands of shoppers walking the streets and through the stores combined with the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas. Church Street was the epicenter of activity as well as 4th and 5th Avenue. There were stores like Castner-Knott, Harvey's, W.T. Grant's, Cain-Sloan, Woolworth's, Kress 5&10. I loved the Christmas lights and everything was lit up. The movie "A Christmas Story" reminds me of what Christmas was like in Nashville. Like in the movie the Christmas parade was held at night. The route was from west to east down Church Street. My father's drugstore was at 17th and Charlotte and my mother and dad took us to watch the parade in front of what was then Taystee Bread Co. at 17th and Church. My favorite store to go shopping with my mother was Harvey's. We looked forward to eating in the Monkey Bar Diner upstairs at lunch time. They had live monkeys in a cage and a carousel. This was maintained and operated by a Mr. Max Lowenstein who was a survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp. They even had a monorail that ran around the top floor of Harvey's. 

  Daddy would give us each five dollars to buy Christmas presents with and I could go to Woolworth's and buy everyone in the family a gift. Uncle Bud would always get a pair of socks from me and granddaddy would get Half & Half pipe tobacco. We would always get our picture taken with the Harvey's Santa. Of course I was scared to death of him. I remember at least one year that I refused to even have my picture taken with Santa because I threw such a fit. Crime was a problem then as now. I will never forget the day that my mother had been shopping all day and her shopping bags were loaded with gifts. She set them down for just a second turning her back and when she turned around the bags were gone. She found a pay phone and cried the whole time that she was on the phone with daddy. Fred Harvey sponsored a beautiful nativity scene on the south side of the Parthenon. Most people in Nashville took a yearly pilgrimage to see it. We would stand in a long line as we slowly filed past as Christmas music was played from loudspeakers and the scenes changed color periodically. As always change is inevitable. In the late sixties, and into the seventies and eighties mall's were built in the suburbs like 100 Oaks, Rivergate, Harding Mall, Green Hills, Hickory Hollow, and Cool Springs. This was to accommodate  the thousands of people moving into expanding development and building of new homes in the greater Nashville area. The wonder of Christmas died in downtown Nashville as a result but I am glad that I was able to experience it. I will always cherish the memories.
5th Avenue

Capital Blvd In Front Of The War Memorial Building
Church Street

Church Street At Christmastime


Harvey's Church Street Entrance

Church Street

Church Street

Harvey's Nativity scene at Centennial Park 



Castner-Knott at Christmastime On Church Street

Church Street / Definitely Not Christmastime  but Crowded Like It was At Christmastime

Me With Santa / Probably At Harvey's

4th Ave. North At Christmas

      

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