Christmas and a return to Mayberry

The residents of North Louisiana are fortunate to live in a location that allows us to greet each other with Merry Christmas and celebrate the holiday in any manner that we feel appropriate. We have all ways celebrated Christmas with all the colors and flavors of the season. Today we have a beautiful Christmas tree lighting following the Christmas parade in downtown Farmerville. This is similar to but not the same as it was during the 1950’s.

Farmerville didn’t have lighted ornaments hanging from the utility poles in the 50s. Instead there were colored lights strung from one light pole to another across main street. It appeared that you were in a lighted multi-colored cave while driving through the town.
There was no Wal-Mart or dollar store in Farmerville. If a child wanted to look for a toy the child would wander through either Sanders variety store where the Community Trust Bank parking lot is today or visit Grafton’s five and dime next to the old Farmerville Drug. The Drug Store also had a variety of toys in the back room. If a child was very lucky, there would be a trip to Howard Griffin Land Of Toys in Monroe to see the biggest toy selection in North Louisiana. Other than train sets, electronic toys were decades away and children had to pick from a selection that required imagination and outside play to enjoy.
The old courthouse was still standing. The magnificent two story building had large oaks standing sentinel at the entrance. On the Courthouse grounds corner, across the street from the Selig and Baughman Hardware, stood a nativity set. The painted animals watched as figures of the three wise men paid tribute to a babe in a manger.
Just like today Farmerville had a Christmas Parade. The Farmerville Marching band would play carols as one of the two Farmerville fire trucks would carry Santa Clause. Brother Luther Hall, pastor of the First Baptist Church, would dress in his Santa outfit and throw candy to excited children.
Artificial trees were years in the future. Children would drive around the country with their fathers and look for the perfect tree that would fit in that special corner of the house. After a week there was much caution applied as pine branches dried and fire opportunities from hot light bulbs grew.
As different as the two generations of Christmases are, the thrill of the season still remains the same. Look into the face of a small child in the 50s and look into the face of a child today and there is no difference. Despite the attempt to sanitize the Holiday, being politically correct and masking the meaning of the holiday; the spirit of the season can not be diminished. The magic is there.
Would you like to experience the magic of Christmas that many think has been lost. Take a time-out from the stress of today and visit the Lake D’arBonne State Park for an evening of Christmas wonderment. Drive through the park and relish the lights of community exhibitors and churches and enjoy many thousands of lights and decorations as the campers greet visitors with friendly waves and cheer. Visit the event field and select a delectable meal from local cooks and listen to the luminary sounds of local church choirs. Finish your night of nostalgic emersion with a walk through the lighted children’s trail in the woods and enjoy the beautiful float sponsored by the state park that was recently featured in the Farmerville Christmas parade.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
God Bless America, Pray for the Ukraine and God Save Israel.

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Thomas FieldsThomas “Tuffy” Fields is an author and regular contributor to The Gazette. He can …

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