Downtown was Hypnotic!

Good afternoon! Thanks for asking for submissions on this topic…here’s a few of mine.
I have very fond memories of shopping for my mom and brother with my dad in the weeks before Christmas in downtown Fargo at Daytons, Herbst, JC Penney’s and also Leeby’s Bakery.
The big department stores were probably very soon to be added to West Acres but there was a time in the early 70s when I was little that shopping was still down downtown. The decorations in the windows and along Broadway were hypnotizing! Dad took me and my brother out on separate trips to shop for my mom, grandma, and other family and it always included a trip to Leeby’s for holiday treats. My brain could not fathom how the bakers could create so many wonderful and delicious cookies and candies for Christmas. I thought for sure they made all the cookies every kid in Fargo-Moorhead wanted to leave for Santa!
In later years the holiday shopping trip with my dad evolved into an evening at West Acres with dinner at the Walgreens restaurant. It was a nice end to a busy spree watching the lights and the shoppers walking through the mall. The tradition again changed to Dad sending me out to shop while he moved from comfy spot to comfy spot in the mall watching me go from store to store with his list (walking was difficult due to his arthritis) and then treating the family to dinner at the Grainery restaurant to cap off the holiday shopping season.
While my mom is shopping machine and my dad was the kind of guy that wanted to just get in and get out, they both taught us that Christmas is not about commercialism or what you get. I learned that the anticipation of festivities is as fun as the event. The weeks leading up to the holidays was magical and exciting every year. It wasn’t until I was grown that my folks shared with me just how hard it was for them to give my brother and I the best Christmases we could ever remember. We received beautiful gifts every year and always with an element of surprise that to this day I really feel that only Santa could deliver!
Along with the fond memories of happy Christmases filled with wonder, my earliest memory of it all began with meeting Santa when I was very little. I was old enough to know our house didn’t have a chimney and assumed that Santa came to our house through the front door. That was confirmed one year when my neighbor Dolores’’ father dressed up as Santa for her daughters one year and she had him come to our house for a visit Christmas morning. My mom has a cassette tape recording of the visit and the whole time all I can say is “Ho, Ho, Hoooooo!!!” repeatedly and very loudly. My mom tells me the following summer, Dolores’ dad was painting her house and we were visiting. I had never met him before his visit as Santa and couldn’t have known it was him painting her house. My mom says that I stood by the ladder asking him if he knew Santa. She figures I must have recognized his voice even though I most likely couldn’t have known it was him out of costume. Ho Ho Ho Mr Myers! lol
Well, sorry for the long stories. Thanks again for inviting folks to share their memories. I bet you’ll have tons to work through and edit!
Have a great holiday!
Jodie Helgeson

One thought on “Downtown was Hypnotic!

  1. Hi Jodie!

    What a great story! I remember Downtown Fargo from years ago. And going to the Walgreen’s restaurant in the mall! Thanks for sharing!

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