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DOUG'S DIGGINGS: Christmas -- some things change; some do not

As we approach Christmas I tend to think about some of the events in my life when I was growing up in Hudson and Christmas -- it was a magical time of the year. We would spend every Christmas Eve with my mother's relatives in Hudson and pretty much every Christmas Day with my dad's relatives, mostly in Minneapolis.

We always exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve. But never did on Christmas Day. My dad's family always got together, but never exchanged gifts. I never thought much about it -- it's the way it was. The night for gifts was always Christmas Eve. We always went to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve and it seemed like everybody I knew was in church that night!

I wondered what was going on in and around Hudson during Christmas when I was growing up. I took a look at the Hudson Star-Observers from December 1958. I would have been the ripe old age of 10.

In the Dec. 18 edition, one of the front page stories included a report about Rotarians Hear Christmas Music On Tuesday Noon: The Hudson High School chorus and boys and girls glee clubs performed at the weekly Rotary meeting at the Hudson Hotel (now Tulgren Square). The groups were directed by Miss Margaret Dorwin.

In the Dec. 25 edition there was a front page story about the post office -- "a "busy place." The photos included a lot of well-known Hudson names. Among them were Emil Anderson, Emmitt Kinney, Douglas Fyksen, Henry Jensen, Byron Spalding, Ronald Krager, Roberts Summers, Charles Wright, Robert Rohl, Elmer Olson, John Hanley and Leonard "Cab" Anderson. Cab was my uncle (my mother's brother) and was one in the group that gathered with our family on Christmas Eve. He was generally late and we were always told it was because of his post office work.

There were a few differences in the newspapers in 1958. For one thing, the goal was to get as many stories as possible on the front page of the newspaper. In the Dec. 25 edition, for instance, there were 20 stories (some only an inch or two) and 12 pictures. The Christmas issue in those days was one of the biggest of the year. Not because there was so much news -- it was because virtually every business in town ran a Merry Christmas or Christmas greeting advertisement. Those sorts of ads have all but disappeared in recent years, although we still see a few of them. But, nothing like in the old days!

One of those 20 stories on the front page was about the North Hudson Cub Scouts having a Christmas meeting. The highlight of the meeting was the appearance by Santa Claus and every Scout received a leather link belt and a chocolate Santa. Among the Scouts at the meeting were: James Morehouse, Terry Sockness, Jack Barker, Bob Peterson, Dennis McGinley, Scott Vogt, Mike Livermore, Dave Volz, William Souter, Dale Samuel, David Zezza, Barry Rogers, David Ostby, Steven Staberg, Jamie Swanson, Bernard Flattum, Allen Flattum, Kenneth Michaelson, Gene Wolf, Bob Zezza, David Van Ness, Sam Ricci Jr., Charles Deal, William Cameron and Kenneth Gustafson.

I'm not sure, but I sometimes wonder if people stayed up later in the old days! Many Christmas Eve church services were 11 p.m. or later -- some at 11:30 p.m. Today the latest is about 10:30 p.m.

A big headline in the Dec. 11 edition of the Star-Observer declared (in all caps): STORES OPEN EVERY NIGHT; FREE MOVIES, SANTA HERE. It was a big deal that beginning on Friday, Dec. 12, all downtown Hudson stores would remain open each evening until 9 p.m. until Christmas. Merchants gave away free movie tickets -- the theory being, parents could send their kids to the movies while they shopped for Christmas in downtown Hudson. By the way, the Dec. 11 Star-Observer had 30 front page stories, but only two photos.

Obviously times have changed. In 1958, there was virtually no other shopping in Hudson except for downtown. There were no big box stores on the hill, no stores open 24 hours, no stores open evenings except for those couple of weeks before Christmas and no stores open on Sunday. It was a different world.

But many things have not changed. We still have the closeness of families getting together for the holidays. We still have the high school choral departments performing for local citizens. We still have Christmas Eve services at our churches. We still have Scouts excited about Christmas parties and we still have a busy post office!

The window dressing changes, but the human spirit of has not changed. We still have the spirit of giving and we still have the memories of good times from years past and excitement for what lies ahead. Merry Christmas.