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When Santa came to Bluffton in 1951 (?)

Note: Dennis Morrison shared the photo with us.

Christmas in downtown Bluffton in the early 1950, maybe 1951, part of a Bluffton Business Men's Association Christmas shopping promotion.

It's a photo worth 10,000 Bluffton words. There's Santa with a Santa Halloween mask. Bob Crow and Paul Steiner are working the PA system. And, Alan McCluer is Santa. Kids on the far left, are Dan Lehman, then Francis Harkness, Judy Harness and Donna McClure. That's as far as we can go.

The Presbyterian Church manse is behind the setting. It's park of the church lawn today.

In the next photo, Santa Claus approaches a farm wagon stage on the Prebsyterian Church lawn. The Ford on Main heading north is a 1951 model.

In the background is the original Citizens National Bank, prior to two modifications. Next door is Crow's 5 and 10, The Charles Company and Urich's IGA.

Several years ago we asked Charles Hilty for his observations of this photo. His comments follow: This photo had to have been taken in 1951 or later. The prominent presence in foreground of 1951 Ford sedan means that photo couldn't have been taken before then.

I miss the majestic old front of the Citizens National Bank, then only 30 or 31 years old. How small that building seems now, how small the apartments and offices must have been.

How grand it was in 1921 when it was opened to house the new bank that rose, partly, from the ruins of the collapse of the old First National Bank. (Not Dick Cunnigham's bank), the Commercial, whose collapse in 1931 was caused by the chain of collapses of Toledo savings and loans in which the Commercial had invested heavily and kept some of its "spare" cash there.

I think that Gordon Bixel then had his optometric practice there, but probably by 1951 or so had moved it to location on South Main Street later taken by Don Patterson for his practice of barbering.

Upstairs tenants of the bank building included Dan Tripplehorn, probably Bluffton's only Yale law graduate. He pretended to practice law, but I remember him most because he used to take "Mickey," his collie, for walks down Kibler Street and out into the country.

Ralf Steiner and his widowed mother lived in one of the apartments above the bank. Her late father-in-law, Mose Steiner, built the brick house at Jackson and Kibler (later the Lauriat house) partly with earlier paving bricks from the first brick paving of the Dixie Highway (when there still were interurban tracks in the middle of the street). [Editor’s note: Jeff and Beth Boehr own that house today.]

The ramp up to the platform wouldn't pass modern safety codes.


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