A look at Rhinelander’s holiday history By Craig Strid
The town was always filled with Christmas shoppers before the holiday. The Chicago Northwestern Train would be bringing tourists, college kids and family back home for the holidays. The Greyhound buses would be pulling up to Onson’s Cafe on the corner of Brown and Rives to feed their passengers. Their were two bakeries in town, The Tasty Bakery where it is now and the other was between the Federal Building and Lindy’s cleaners.
On the north block there was Hobbyland Toy Store run by Mrs. Ward. And next to it was Coast To Coast Hardware, where the Berns’ Golden Retrievers would greet you at the door. Across from them was the A&P Grocery Store. In the middle block of downtown was Lloyd’s Music Store, where you could get any 78 or 33 1/3 RPM album. They piped music outside for shoppers.
There were two theatres; the State and the Majestic. Mid-block also contained the dime store, where you could smell Carmel corn and roasted cashews. There also was a luncheon counter towards the back. J.C. Penney’s was next to it. There was Taege’s drugstore and Rexall drugstore. Rexall also I think had a soda fountain counter. The Fenlon Hotel had a lounge and restaurant that served many. They were known for their salad bar. Their was Hong Kong Harry’s Hardware run my Mr. Mason. I remember that Mr. Mason had a lot of fishing gear that was inexpensive for a young fisherman’s expense account.
Scooley Forbes’ Hardware store was next to DeByle’s. Clothing stores were Gary’s on Davenport near Danner’s shoe store, DeByle’s on center block and also Campbell’s Womens Clothing Store. There was also Leuthold Bahr Clothing store. There was Miazga Office Supply and Shauder’s Shoe Store, where you could actually smell leather upon entering; the same with Danner’s.
Their was an eight-chair barbershop. The Northwestern lounge served sandwiches, and on the other corner was the Wonder Hotel that served German food. There were two cafès across from Montgomery Wards and Robins’ Reality. Mel’s Trading post was mid-block, and Montgomery Ward’s was in Mel’s present location. The Holiday Gas Station was by the Depot. You could even order guns at Holiday. Hills Oil Company was on the corner of King and Brown. Leo’s Sporting Goods was on Davenport, and everyone had to check the fish box in front to view someone’s best catch for the day.
Their was Briggs’ Bicycle Shop and also an Army Navy Store on King Street. The Elbo Room was as titled every Friday Night. Boiler maker drinks were popular. The Cafè and Pub was there, and remember the Spice King televised from the Pub during Packer games? There was Hildebrand Furniture store and the Cue Club was for high school-age kids, with Leo’s Lair close by. Their were two gift shops in the downtown, and they were the The Glass Shelf and the Happiness Card and Party Shop. Their was also a Gamble’s Hardware Store. Most stores played WOBT, and it was typically called the Rhinelander station.
Friday night was Paper Mill payday, and Brown Street was packed with pedestrians. That’s why left turns were prohibited at Brown and Davenport, because traffic was heavy in the downtown area.
On Stevens Street was the Memorial building that hosted holiday parties for the town youth and had an accessible basketball gym for kids. Their was the Labor Temple with bar downstairs, and a hall that was rented out for wedding parties, etc. The House of Spirits liquor store was accessible to everyone.
Downtown was a bee hive of activity during the holidays. How’s that for holiday food for thought and conversation?
Craig Strid, Rhinelander