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Merry Christmas at Saranac Lake, 1948 | News, Sports, Jobs

Almost every edition of the Enterprise in December was filled with stories about Christmas celebrations and local commercials.

What a pleasure it would be if I could walk with you through the streets of the 1948 village. No empty shops, no big empty spaces where hotels and businesses had existed. Here’s a look at the east side of Broadway Hill. Adjoining or part of the lower level of the Berkeley Hotel were a shoe repair shop, sports shop / newsstand, deli, barber shop, and Stephen’s Men’s Shop; then the magnificent Pontiac Theater, the offices above with large windows facing the street were occupied by lawyer Francis B. Cantwell, father of lawyer Thomas Cantwell.

Next to the Pontiac was a homemade candy store. The candies were all made in the basement of the workshop and displayed in beautiful display cases in the store. The owners, a Greek family, CG Sarbanes lived at 72 Bloomingdale Ave. I was friends with their son, George. The store faced Broadway but also had an entrance from the theater lobby.

The Edelberg Fur Store, Downing and Cane Restaurant, and the Wilson Clothing Company were huddled against the Pontiac Theater as we walked down Broadway; imagine all the businesses, and we had only reached Woodruff Street.

The population of Saranac Lake was 10,000, so the stores had all of these people to support them. Someday I will collect the names of all the businesses that were in existence at that time to prove why Saranac Lake was called a small town in the Adirondacks.

Father Christmas visits Saint-Bernard school

So let’s go back to 1948, when there were 62 first year students and 33 second year students at Saint-Bernard school. When I attended Saint-Bernard school, there were 35 students in the sixth grade.

“Yesterday morning around 9:30 am who should come to the first grade room at St. Bernard School but old St. Nick himself.

“Dressed in red and white, his bundle of toys in his hand, the cheerful children’s friend dabbed the snow off his boots and looked at the 62 students and their 20 or so guests with cheerful eyes.

“As the children opened their packages and began to eat the refreshments served at the party, Father Christmas greeted the first graders and went to the second graders room where he was received with so many enthusiasm.

“Here he saw the tree made by the 33 second-graders, asked them if they were any good, handed out gifts and candy, and watched them eat refreshments before returning to the North Pole.”

Gifts for Veterans

“The Ladies of the VFW Auxiliary will be meeting tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 pm at Veteran’s Memorial Home, 173 Broadway, to prepare Christmas packages to distribute to WWII veterans who are patients at three local sanatoriums.

“The packages that will go to the veteran men and women contain cigarettes, stationery and postage stamps. The VFW plans to wrap at least 50 of these gifts.

“The gifts will be distributed in the Sanatoriums of Ray Brook, Gabriels and Stonywold under the direction of Miss Katherine Brizitis, Mrs. Hazel Monica, Mrs. Hazel Christian and Mrs. Ella Horton.”

Big party hosted by Bea and Mose LaFountain

“The walls of the Durgan Grill on Harrietstown Road echoed with the merriment of over 650 youthful voices from 2pm to 4:30 pm yesterday afternoon as the owners Mr. and Mrs. Mose LaFountain hosted their annual Christmas party for the children of the village.

“Transportation to the party was provided by Ms. Theodore Hillman, who made five trips to and from Berkeley Square on the Lake Colby school bus. [All school buses at that time were privately owned.]

“The young people came in to find bottles of milk, donated by Dairy-Dell, scattered on the tables in the center and in the stands.

“Straight from the North Pole came Santa Claus, played by James Douglas, who entertained the young guests throughout the afternoon.

Santa’s helpers were Mrs. JH Butler, Emmet Durr of Ray Brook, Mr. and Mrs. Wells Munn, Aaron Shapiro, Jerry Chapman, Miss Anita Kennedy, Mrs. Eunice McDonald, Miss Alzeda Wilkins, Kenneth LaDouceur, Mrs. William Morris and her daughter, Mrs. William White, Lucien Miron and James Shirley.

“The Durgan Orchestra provided holiday music. Arque Dickenson is the frontman of the “Honey Dippers” and the band members are Ray Cully, Larry King and Eddie Shores.

“W. Lee Knight screened films, which included cartoons and animal images, and children also enjoyed entertainment such as acrobatic stunts by the Aolandas and magic tricks by Milnor the Magician.

“After two and a half hours of holiday cheerfulness, the tired but happy children got ready to go home.

“As they came off the grill, both outings were presented to them with candy, ice cream, oranges and apples.

“Kenneth LaDouceur, manager of the FW Woolworth store in Saranac Lake, donated 25 pounds of candy, 500 cellophane bags and 500 gum blocks for the party.”

Teen Cantine plans the festivities

“The Teen Canteen begins their vacation program with a regular session from 7:30 pm to 11:00 am tonight at Harrietstown Town Hall.

“On Wednesday evening, a round and square dance is scheduled with Stearns Walker and his band to perform from 8 to 11 am. James Kilroy is in charge of the arrangements.

“The children [the members were all teenagers] will come together for a Christmas party on Saturday night with James Lewis, [age 18] President of the Cantine, directing the activities.

“Last Saturday evening, during the regular evening, two prizes were awarded. Sam Sherman won a 15-pound turkey and Martha Bendell received a roast beef.

“The canteen members made a gross total of $ 107 from the activities. They voted to send a “Care” package to a soldier in Europe. “

Hanukkah festival celebrated

“The annual Hanukkah program, better known as the ‘Festival of Lights,’ will take place at 4:00 pm Sunday afternoon at the Jewish Community Center on Church Street.

“The feast commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek army, led by Antichocus, in the year 167 BC in the temples.

“Rabbi Alfred Kahn will deliver the speech and the children of the religious school will perform a play under the direction of Mrs. Kahn.

“The program will also include group chants of Hanukkah melodies. Food boxes will be distributed to bedridden patients in the village.

“Ms. Sol Drutz will take care of the refreshments for the children and Ms. Jerome Jerome (sic) heads the Adult Refreshments Committee, assisted by Ms. Joseph Jacobsen and Ms. Joseph Goldstein.

“The program will be open to the public.

Saint-Luc Christmas party

“The Christmas party for the Sunday School students of the Church of St. Luke the Beloved Doctor took place yesterday afternoon at 4 am in the parish house. The festival brought together 87 children and parents.

“The program consisted of Christmas carols by the kindergarten and primary departments and by everyone present. Miss Joyce Kains presided at the piano.

“Oliver P. Wallace read the story of the Three Wise Men, after which a color film,“ When the Smallest Camel Kneel ”, was viewed.

“Useful gifts and candy were given to all the children by Santa Claus, played by Raymond LaRose. His assistants were Chester Park, Ellsworth Wilcox, Mary Lou McMullen, Ella Highland and Mrs. Ernest Mounsey.

“Sharon Parks gave Santa a big red apple.”


Every child in town must have attended a Christmas party. In addition to all of the above, what about this?

“Sixty-five village children were celebrated in a cheerful and colorful Christmas party and turkey dinner from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm yesterday afternoon by members of the Whiteface Mountain Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, in the Masonic Temple at 1 Olive Street. “


“For a pleasant evening of entertainment, stroll the streets of Saranac Lake – both commercial and residential – and admire the Christmas decorations.

“Saranac Lake went out of its way for Christmas this year with more Christmas trees and Christmas lights outside than ever before shining on the sparkling white snow.

“The village planted the three big trees at Riverside Park and William Morris Park [location of the Carousel] and Berkeley Square. The village is also responsible for the fairy lights on the main streets and the carnival committee helped by placing small evergreen trees at each lamppost.

“The inhabitants, too, did not spare their efforts to contribute to the good mood of the festivities. Cheerfully decorated trees with numerous strings of colorful lights shine from the lawns and windows of local houses on every street.

Students home for Christmas

“Students home for the Christmas break include William Hall, Russell Wood, John Fitzpatrick, John Harrigan and Thomas Oddy. They are students of Colorado State College in Greeley, Colorado.

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