August 15, 2022

70th anniversary memories of Saturday night shopping

Saturday night shopping was still the big thing throughout the midwest, including Newton. Mom and Dad might take the kids to the movies and then head around the square to visit old friends and pick up supplies. Most all the stores we remember around the Newton square have disappeared. Penneys, Wards, Gambles, Garretts, Newberrys, Marshalls, Mode-O-Day, Gottners, Warmhoudts, Bonds, Nollens, Powers, Perrymans, Jack & Jill, Keith & McLaughlin, Adrians, Underbrinks, Houghs, The Smart Shoppe, Reliable, Horns, Spurgeons, Coast to Coast, The Hobby House and Dooleys. Reading through these names you immediately attach the proper type of business, location and those you knew behind the counter.

These names only remain a memory, as do some of the prices of the day. At Penneys, you could buy fancy ladies’ blouses and men’s dress shirts for $2.98. Slacks were $5, sport shirts for $1.98, and sport coats for $7 to $12. Boys bib overalls were $1.33, and large thick terry towels, size 22x44 were only 67 cents each.

During our last year in high school, downtown merchants started experimenting with closing at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and extending Monday evening shopping hours until 9:30 p.m. The profusion of popular Saturday night TV shows ushered in the beginning of the end for the long-established traditional Saturday night shopping.

Oh. Give me a Home! Newspapers were full of wedding announcements following World War II, and the “Baby-Boom” began. More new homes were needed, and Morgan Builders among others began filling the gap. Farmlands in east Newton became Aurora Heights and Denniston Addition.

Hundreds of homes were built in a few short years. You could purchase a brand new two-bedroom home completely outfitted with kitchen appliances for $5650 in Aurora Heights, including the lot. Payments were only $39 per month including insurance.

Need your new home outfitted? Pierce Furniture advertised 24 pieces of furniture for three full rooms at only $588 with easy payment terms. There were similar bargains at Newton Furniture and Switzers. Girls could also purchase several styles of the “Lane” cedar chest at Switzers for only $49.95.

John McNeer

Newton