Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

CHRISTMAS IN THE 1970s

Morning Star, December 18, 2005, pg. 6

Congratulations to Barbara & Cy Pombier and Judy & Bud Rogers for the publication of their new book “The Springport Connection.” This massive 792-page book is a compilation of genealogies of approximately 100-plus families of the greater Springport area. There is lots of “Albion overflow” in this book, which is destined to become a standard genealogical resource for years to come. Copies are available at the Springport telephone office. For more information, call Barb or Cy at (517) 782-6090.

The 1970s was certainly a time of change. This was especially true in downtown Albion. These were the final years for several long-established department stores and national firms we had grown up with. By time the 1980s arrived, several major businesses closed and Albion residents were instructed to go to “their store” in Jackson at Paka Plaza or Westwood Mall. Remember such places like Sears, Montgomery Ward, McClellen’s, Murphy’s, Gambles, Consumer’s Power Company, Western Auto, J.C. Penney, AAA Insurance, Southeastern Michigan Gas Company, and others that used to be in downtown Albion?

Despite the changing business climate, Albion citizens continued their holiday traditions as much as possible. One clever marketing approach was tried to help boost local downtown businesses during the Christmas season. Santa Claus was let out of his house and was allowed to mingle with downtown Albion shoppers. During the month of December, 1972, Santa walked up and down the streets of downtown Albion, visiting numerous stores between the hours of 2 to 4, and 6 to 8 pm. (Note: Santa had to eat in between those times so he would be plump enough for his annual one-night around-the-world excursion). He also carried a big sack of candy with him to pass out to children during his visits. That year local merchants also conducted a fund-raising campaign to raise money for new Christmas decorations to hang on the poles and lights the following year.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present Santa Claus, standing in the middle of a slushy S. Superior St., waving to his fans in December, 1972. How many of our readers plan on shopping in downtown Albion this Christmas season? Start from one end and walk to the other, and look in the windows of those merchants who are open. You’ll find some very specialized stuff that would make great gifts. Be sure and include the Albion Chamber of Commerce on your route. They’ve got my Albion history books and materials, including my Riverside Cemetery tour booklets which are great stocking stuffers for placing on the coffee table to read while waiting for Christmas dinner. Merry Christmas everyone! (Note: For the record, Santa Claus was played by Richard Crawford in this week’s photo, a member of the Albion High School Class of 1971).


Santa Claus on Superior Street in 1972

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