There is no finer Christmas than a Waynedale Christmas in my mind. Of course, I look back through the eyes of a child. Umber’s Hardware always had a grand display in their window of trains that a child could watch, transfixed, night after night. The Waynedale Fireman put on a Christmas show for us at the old Waynedale School. For many of us it was one of the rare times that we saw our hard-working fathers really let down their hair, and act crazy. They would sing, dress up in costumes, and dance as they entertained a delighted audience of their families, before Santa would arrive and pass out presents to all of us. I remember seeing my dad wear a blonde wig once, and it was so hilarious I still think of it, not to mention the dress he put on disguised as a buxom woman. He played the guitar, both at home, and for the Christmas play. I was so proud of him. I always thought he was the very best, and the best looking, too. When we would walk home it would often be snowing and I remember the happiness and the glow we all felt as a family together. I also remember Art and Walt at the Waynedale Drug Store. It has moved now, but it used to be in downtown Waynedale. I was thinking today how special they were and how they treated us kids. When we went in and picked out a present for our parents, they would giftwrap it for us. I guess that’s no big thing in today’s world, but back then it was a very special thing. They did it for us, the kids. Memories of Walt or Art wrapping the gift, it was an art form that I still use today. They would carefully crease the paper so it just fit the very edge of the gift. They would carefully cut the paper so that it wasn’t all wadded up when they did the ends. Then came the bow, tied just right! Oh, they were special all right. Nobody since has ever gift wrapped anything for me in a store that could compare with their special touch. Walt and Art were part of our childhood. I remember the first time I experimented with make-up, I had to try the “look” out on someone, so I walked down to the drugstore. Art and Walt were both there and they said something to the effect of how beautiful I was and how I was growing into a fine young lady. I’ll never forget it. I wonder if they realize how many kids they benefited in so many ways. When my brothers turned 16, they would give them a job interview, and put them to work in the store. They taught them all about how to deal with customers, and where everything was placed. It was a wonderful drugstore. I was sad to know that they moved and no longer occupied that special place in Waynedale. I guess the new store is fine, maybe better, but for me no place else could be like the one I knew as a child.
The Waynedale Dime Store was another magical place. It was where I bought my first blouse all by myself. I had my paper route money and it was the beginning of my independence of buying my own clothes and things I needed. I was proud of myself.
I think the whole concept of a small town, the care of the people there, and the love that was passed out without a second thought, is part of who I am today.
I am grateful to all those clerks, pharmacists, shoe repairmen, and grocers who looked upon every child as his own. Growing up in the small town of Waynedale was one of the best experiences of my life.
Merry Christmas to all my Waynedale friends,