By Erik Pekar, Town Historian
The Christmas season is here. Granville has been done up nicely with Christmas decorations of all sorts. The village volunteers have worked for a few months placing the annual decorations and displays, and quite a few houses in both the village and town are aglow with Christmas lights in the evenings.
Granville is no stranger to decorating for the Christmas season. It is a tradition that has continued for years. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to a Christmas season of yesteryear.
The year is 1958. Granville’s Main Street in those days was a thriving business center. The merchants were especially busy in those years during the Christmas shopping season. For much of December, all the store were open until 9 p.m. all week. Usually, the stores closed around 5 or 6 p.m. on most days and were only open late one day of the week, Friday. As such, Friday was the busy shopping day of the week. There was more stores on Main Street in this era, and more variety of store types.
Those who shopped on Granville’s Main Street had their choices of parking location. There were free parking lots next to the railroad tracks, and behind Ginsburg’s and Goldberg’s. Most chose to park on the streets. Cars parked along North, Church, East Main, and West Main, not to mention Main Street itself. On Fridays, and during the Christmas season, all this would not be enough, and shoppers parked in the wide area of Main Street next to the already parked cars of other shoppers. Such practice of double parking was commonplace in this era, and while the Village had a double parking ordinance, and infrequently placed notices in the Sentinel discouraging the practice, little action was taken upon those who double parked.
There were more buildings on Main Street then. Some have since been demolished, or burned and were then demolished. Only the block of the Sam Bloom store (now location of the smoke shop) was one story; all the rest were mostly two, and a couple of three story buildings. With more tall buildings along both sides of Main Street, there were more places to hang garland across the street. The usual places included (north side building to south side building): Marble bank to Pember Opera House, L.E. Roberts to Air-Land , Lasher’s Pharmacy to Speed Wash , Variety Store to Ginsburg’s, Henry Allen block to A&P store. (Of these, in 2020 only the Variety Store-Ginsburg’s garland holding wire remains; today the buildings would be the Town Hall and a church.)
Starting from the Pember on West Main Street, one would have passed by quite a few businesses. On West Main itself, these were the NYSEG office, Edwards Market; a hair shop; Weinberg’s Hardware, and Murphy’s grill. Also on West Main was Ray’s Service, a TV repair store at the corner with North Maple Street.
Over the Main Street bridge and continuing upstreet along the south side of the street, there were: Scott Furniture, Goldberg’s, Ginsburg’s, A&P grocery store, the post office, Hayes Diner, Stevens and Corcoran furniture, Whitcomb Hardware, Winn’s appliance store, Air-Land auto parts store, the American House Grill, and Dwyer’s Restaurant.
Crossing Main Street and going back downstreet on the north side of the street, there were: the bank, Grand Union grocery store, L.E. Roberts jewelry, R.E. Rudd appliances, Lasher’s Pharmacy, Scotties, Harry’s Restaurant, Wilson’s, Bert Goldberg’s, Haskins’ Drug Store, Bert Yurdin’s newsroom, Reynolds’ hat shop, The Variety Store, Dick’s Place grill, Sam Bloom’s five and dime, Henry Allen appliance store, Mil’s Lunch, Grastorf Press, Ritz Theater, Oneida Market grocery store; and the Ritz Diner and Recreation.
The stores of Main Street went with the Christmas spirit in their decorations. Every store had a display relating to the holiday season. Main Street itself was also decorated. These included the fixtures (snowflakes, reindeer, etc.) attached to the street light poles, and small Christmas trees placed along the street. There was also a large Christmas tree placed in the center of the intersection of Main Street and North Street. This was a tradition dating back over 30 years, but would not last much longer. Perhaps most remarkable about the Christmas tree in the village square is that during these years Route 22 and all its traffic still came through the village and Main Street. Such a display could never be done today, even with Route 22 relocated to bypass the village; there are more cars on the road than there were then, and driving patterns and habits have changed.
Granville has decorated well for the Christmas season in years past, and continues to excel in this today. Those who wish to see a nice show of Christmas decorations should drive through Granville and see the sights of our plentiful Christmas holiday decorations and lights.