Sixties Christmas; Westend Style
up a Westender, the activities surrounding the Holidays were probably
the same as anywhere else but in our little university community
they felt very special.
loved playing outdoors back then- not parked in front of a television/computer
screen like a lot of kids today.
family lived steps away from some of the best sledding hills in
the city and we couldn't wait for the Christmas vacation to haunt
them. Our favourite was the big slope leading down to the Detroit
River near the foot of Sunset. This run was particularly exciting
due to the proximity of a certain park bench. You had to lie flat
on your back to allow your sled to zip under it and stop as close
to the edge of the river as possible. I only remember one kid hitting
it, JT, but he had a thick head so it didn't seem to bother him.
sports field behind Shore Acres (Atkinson pool on Riverside Drive
West) was flooded by the City each winter to produce a wonderful
skating rink. We would spend hours there playing hockey, crack-the-whip
and chasing each other at breakneck speed.
the evenings we would organize caroling walkabouts. We'd stroll
up and down the snow-covered streets singing our hearts out in the
hope of being offered mugs of hot chocolate or freshly baked Christmas
cookies. Even the boys joined us. There was lots of laughing, making
of snow angels and snowball fights. These nights culminated in walking
each other home and making plans for what we'd do the next day.
Toy and Hobby Shop was THE gathering place to make our wish lists.
I remember my parents saying they were on their way to Janisse's
to see Santa so we'd better behave while they were gone.
Shoe Bar was where our family would shop for our Christmas shoes,
compliments of our great-uncle Whit who bought them for all his
nieces and nephews. My most beloved were a gold glittery pair of
Mary Janes with sparkly buckles.
vacant lot next to Tucker Electric on Wyandotte (in the middle of
the block between Randolph & Rankin) was where the neighbours
would go to pick out their Christmas trees, under jiggly strings
of glaring lightbulbs.
sisters and I would wander around Bird Hardware for (what felt like)
hours searching for the perfect gifts for Mum and Dad. I still remember
the creaks and groans of the old hardwood floors as we tramped up
and down the aisles. (We loved to run our hands through the galvanized
garbage cans full of grass seed in the spring).
(forerunner of Big V and Shoppers Drug Mart) was our next destination.
We'd visit their perfume counter to pick up a little something for
Mum if Bird Hardware didn't have what we wanted. Next was Philip
Flowers' greenhouse where we would go just to see the goldfish pond
surrounded by red poinsettias.
favourite stop by far was Scott's Confectionery. There was a low
soda bar surrounded by vinyl-covered chrome swivel stools where
we'd order milk shakes or sodas. The glass-fronted candy counters
were taller than us and seemed to overflow with an assortment of
penny candies (that actually cost only a penny). We would've stood
there staring for hours but Mr. Scott always seemed to be in a hurry
so we'd make our choices quickly.
most memorable and embarrassing Christmas morning was the year I
went downstairs before everyone else and swiped what I wanted from
my brother and sisters' piles to add to mine. Needless to say, I
didn't get to play with my toys that day.
worst Christmas memory for me was the year our grade two teacher
at Prince of Wales, Mrs. Buller told our class that we were old
enough to know that there was no such thing as Santa. All our parents
were in an uproar and I don't remember her being around the next
is it that when we're kids the Holidays can't come quickly enough
yet as adults it seems to creep up on us before we're ready? Sometimes
I wish I were a kid again so I could feel that magic one more time.
Visit Sherrill Tucker's
Web Site - sherrilltucker.com