Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, December 17, 2006, pg. 9
If you need a last minute Christmas gift, how about my book “Growing Up in Albion?” There are lots of memories and conversations to be had within its pages. They’re available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce or at Books and More. If you need one really last minute, I’ll have them autographed and ready at my house, even on Christmas Eve. Just stop by.
For many years during the 1950s, Santa Claus would make his appearance in Albion from the roof of the Commercial & Savings Bank. He was then assisted down to earth by the aerial ladder of an Albion Fire Department truck. There at the bottom he would be greeted by a band, and people would sing Christmas carols. From the late 1940s to 1955, Santa was played by William Toussaint, who worked at the Albion Malleable Iron Company.
From our this week we present a photo from the 1953 Christmas parade showing Mr. Toussaint as Santa waving to the crowd below. Just behind him to the right is his son Dennis, who now lives in the Kalamazoo area. To the left is “Nick’s Soda Shop,” operated by Nick Kostianes. Today this is the site of the Albion Volunteer Service Center. On the bank second floor far right window appears the sign: “J.R. Lathwell, Tailoring.”
A sign on the bank entrance overhead window states, “Join our Christmas Club.” That was a common service which banks offered in those days. You would put in a particular amount of money each week into a special savings account on a regular basis. In November the bank would issue you a check for the amount of your savings, and that became your Christmas money to purchase gifts. No doubt, this was in the days before credit cards.
Santa also had a “house” which was parked in front of the Bank, where children would come at scheduled times to visit with him and give him their wish lists. Fashioned to look like a small barn, a 1962 picture of it appears on page 68 of my book “Growing Up in Albion,” top photo. How many of our readers remember visiting Santa in that “Santa house,” or watched him come down the aerial ladder at City Bank?
1953 Christmas parade
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic