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Walking Up the Sidewalks Like You Were in Times Square

Black and white archival photograph. Street view. Exterior view of Riff’s and P.F. Kearney’s. Christmas décor can be seen in the windows of both shops. Snow is falling and there is a car parked in front of Riff’s. The sign above Riff’s says: RIFF’S CHRISTMAS SALE.

Exterior photo of Riff’s and P.F. Kearney’s shops during the Christmas season. Circa 1960s.


“I can remember when we were kids walking up the sidewalks, especially around Christmastime, was almost like you were in Times Square with the amount of pedestrian traffic. I mean just bumper to bumper walking on the sidewalks. It was really amazing.”

John Connors recalls Main Street at Christmas as a special and busy time of the year. The street would be decorated, the Salvation Army band would play, and there would be a turkey raffle. Denise Howse describes the raffle:

“I remember when [Mom] took myself and [my sister] Debbie down and we were only little girls. We had our coats on. It was just like something you would see in the old Christmas movies on TV. The snow was falling and there was Christmas music being played everywhere. Uncle Junior and one of the other firemen were down there and had a raffle, the turkey raffle and had the big wheel going. All the stores had lights and were all lit up with a gentle snow falling.”

Audio clip and transcript: Frank Beson discusses Main Street during the Christmas season.

One of the most unforgettable stores on Main Street was the seasonal Riff’s Toybox. Yvonne Courtney recalls:

The most important thing about Christmas on Main Street was the window. They would have all these sheets, Advertiser pages or samples covering lots of window and you couldn’t see anything for what seemed like ages to a child. It seemed like a long, long time waiting for Toyland, waiting for those papers to come down. When they took all the papers down there were the big, big windows and everything you ever wanted was in those windows. That was Riff’s Toyland. It was just beautiful.”

Although most shops were closed on Christmas, there were a few who would open their doors:

“Another place in our teenage years that we would hang out was Stroud’s pool hall, which was a super cool place when you were a teenager back in the mid to late ’80s. Huge jukebox and all the latest tunes and the place was jammed, and they wouldn’t close until the last person left. I can remember one Christmas Day it was even open. They were a diehard crew!” says Corey Sharpe.

Black and white archival photograph. Over 70 people in winter coats and hats in line at Cohen’s while Christmas decorations and banners hang from the ceiling.

Cohen’s interior during the Christmas season. Circa 1960s.