Last Tuesday, I was a guest of Lynn Six Bewley at the Optimist Club of Greensburg for their Christmas evening.

Lynn’s mother Ann and I have been friends for many years. Lynn asked me to give 10 minutes of memories about Christmases past in Decatur County. I asked others to tell what they remember about Christmases past in Decatur County. They came through, too! It was sure fun.

Debbie Sellers made a delicious meal, Mark wore the Santa outfit that David Bean wore. The evening really was fun.

Lou Alexander graduated from Greensburg High School in 1965 and worked at the Greensburg Daily News during summers while he was at Indiana University and then for a while after he graduated with a degree in Journalism.

Then Lou went on to other cities and states and wound up in San Jose, California. He is now retired in that city. He not only writes beautifully and clearly, he takes photographs that most of us oh and ah about a great deal. He is also one who keeps track of his 1965 classmates. He’s kept us posted about the truly great things the class has done for this community since they graduated.

I am delighted to tell you what Lou still remembers Decatur County and Greensburg when he was younger. Lou also sent some ads from the Greensburg Daily News which I will share. You may not remember the stores and Christmas Club, but they sure were important to us.

Lou wrote: “In the 1950s and 1960s, the Courthouse Square was the centerpiece of Christmas for many people in Decatur County and Greensburg.

“There was lots of shopping. Almost every store front was filled by a small retailer. There were multiple men’s and women’s clothing stores. There were at least three hardware stores that sold home goods, sporting goods and toys for presents. I think I remember three local drug stores. For a time, there were two G. C. Murphy five and dime stores stuffed with presents, and let’s not forget the hot nut and candy counters. There were two department stores: Page and Critser, and Minear’s. And The Fair Store, filled to the brim at any time, looked like Christmas had exploded in every corner.

“Much of the spending in these stores was funded by Christmas Clubs offered by all the banks in town. You could deposit a dollar or less a week and the bank would make one extra payment for you and send you a check to use for Christmas shopping. Walter Lowe, publisher of the Greensburg Daily News, extolled the benefits of Christmas Clubs, noting in a November 27, 1962, editorial that the “Yule Savings Checks Total $177,806.37.” Adjusted for inflation that is $5.6 million dollars in today’s money.

“And everything that could not run away was decorated. There was a picture in the Daily News on November 16, 1962, that showed new bright green and red outdoor decorations that were strung around the Courthouse Square. Each streamer featured a lighted Christmas wreath in the center. These new decorations replaced strands of multi-colored light bulbs that had been used in previous years. Many of the store fronts had holiday scenes painted on their windows by members of the art class at Greensburg Community High School.

“This was all a lifetime ago. Before I-74, before shopping malls sprung up around Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Way before Amazon and its ilk. I love the 21st Century, but I cherish my memories of Greensburg when I was growing up.”

Thanks, Lou. I wish for everyone to have a truly wonderful Christmas!

Next week, a couple more people reminding us what Christmas was like back when.

Contact Pat Smith at news@greensburgdailynews.com.

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