NORMAN — A white duffel bag slung over his right shoulder , he hopped down from the rear platform.
“Any time, Red. Merry Christmas.” The driver’s voice came back.
“Jimmy.” I shouted. We rushed into each other’s arms. With his arm about my shoulder, we trudged through the deep snow left by the plow and up the shoveled walk to our front door. He handed me his large, white hanky for my tears of joy as Mom dove into his waiting arms. Dad arrived just before 5 p.m. and the girls were on the 6 p.m. bus. This was their first time home since the storm hit. I think that was the only time we all talked through a meal. It was a wonderful reunion that lasted well into the night because everyone got to tell their experience of being snowed-in.
“From what Mom tells me, you could sure use a break and you’d like to go down town and get those figure skates. How about I look after our Christmas tree lot while you’re gone?” Jim suggested.
“That would be great, partner. After breakfast, I’ll change and take the 11:10 a.m. bus. Most of the trees are sold. They’re tagged with the customer’s name and marked paid in full or what the balance is. Our family tree is over in the corner. We’ve been waiting for you to come home to decorate it. I’ll only be gone a few hours.”
I was so excited with the thoughts of finally getting the skates I dreamed about for the past three years. I couldn’t wait. The slow-moving bus, the slow-loading and unloading of bus passengers unnerved me. I got off at the downtown square where tall dynamic bank buildings command each corner as regal minuteman. An enormous fir tree all dressed for Christmas braved the softly falling snow.
I walked the three blocks to Stambaugh Thompson Hardware Store on Federal Street. Federal Street merchant’s frosted windows framed elaborate storefronts that were very unique. Some windows were trendy, but most were traditionally old fashioned, even old world. All were beautiful with flickering lights on decorated trees, and the lenient glow of hurricane lamps on lace-covered tables elucidated a lifelikeness of beautifully dressed mannequin families.
An abundance of wonderful toys and gifts stimulated an accelerating economy. Happy holiday music drifted from many unseen speakers, creating a festive mood for the aroma of popcorn, caramel corn, taffy apples and the street vendor’s chestnuts that were roasted and ready.
Wonderful memories. Camaraderie amidst neighbors added greatly to the Christmas holiday shopping days in downtown Youngstown, Ohio.