The Heritage Days Steering Committee has named the theme for the 2018 Heritage Days festivities as The ’50s: Community Strong. Festivities celebrating Huntington’s 55th Heritage Days will relate to the 1950’s, continuing to explore our heritage, and will be held at locations throughout the community, Wednesday, June 20 through Sunday, June 24.
The 1950’s in Huntington were a family-oriented time where much of the city’s activities took place in the main business district. The principal business district extended north and south with Jefferson Street as the main thoroughfare and included the adjoining streets. All of the retail shopping, restaurants, churches and activities were found here. Community Gym, located in the former Central Elementary School, was the location of many countywide events including basketball tournaments, dances, sock hops, concerts and more. Cruising through town in a ’50s automobile was also a popular way to connect with friends.
The Heritage Days 2018 button depicts the former YMCA, which was located at the corner of Warren and Washington Streets. The YMCA was considered the community center of the 1950’s in Huntington according to a Newcomers Guide from 1951. It was the main location for youth activities and its facilities were used by many organized civic, social and religious groups of the city and county. The Swing Inn Club was located in the lower level of the “Y” and boasted a membership of 500 high school boys and girls. In 1951 a countywide learn to swim campaign was promoted for the first time with 372 boys and girls participating.
The ’50s were a colorful vibrant era, and it was a time of hard work getting the country back to stability after a period of war and reconstruction. People were happy and by the end of the ’50s, the hard work of rebuilding the country had paid off. All the economic and social changes were significant and by the end of the 1950’s almost every home had a television set. A new three bedroom home sold for $11,500, a blanket was $2.29, bread was 15 cents per loaf, children’s shoes sold for $1.85 per pair and a better cotton dress was $2.
The fashion industry was affected by social change, and shorter full and pencil skirts with very narrow waists, chiffon scarves, hats and unusual shoes were all the rage, crew neck cardigans were also very popular. 1950’s fashions were described as “bright as a summer’s day.”
Songs from the era include many Elvis songs such as Love Me Tender and Jailhouse Rock, At the Hop, Dream Lover, Chantilly Lace, Earth Angel, That’s Amore, I Walk the Line, La Bamba, to name a few.
Friday nights in downtown Huntington were a social time. The stores stayed open late and citizens dressed in their finest attire visiting along the sidewalks. There were three motion picture theatres, The Huntington, The Jefferson and The Tivoli, and a new “Drive-In” became popular.
Downtown included Andy’s Chili House, the Cave Inn, the Charles, Double Dip, the Epicure, the Grille Room, Haymarket, Johnny’s, Nick’s Kitchen, the Southern, Show Lounge and a variety of restaurants. Crite’s and Neterer’s Bakeries, Webb and Son, Jones and Fry’s Jewelers, Bradley Drugs, Meyer’s Drugs, Pressler Rexall Drugs, Southside Drug Store, Brown and Rowe, Merit, Modern, Schroeder and Shine shoe stores and Brock’s Hat Shop were all a part of downtown.
Retail shopping also included A&P, Barnharts, Bazley Cash Market, Benny’s TV Center, Peter Bronstein & Co., Bruss Sewing Center, Carroll House, Collins House of Music, Cotton Shop, The Family Store, Fanning’s, House of and Smith Furniture stores, First National Bank, Gambles, Gass’ Ladies Shop, Geedy-Corey, Herald-Press, Hurdles, Juergens, Don Klepper Realty, Kroger, Lemar’s Tailoring, Leyman Electric, Lords, Marsh, Metzger’s, McClellan’s, Millers Fashions, Our Sunday Visitor, Penney’s, People’s Savings & Loan (First Federal), Pete’s TV & Appliance, Sealtest Ice Cream, Sears, Schiff’s Ice Skates, Singer Sewing Center, Sowerwines, Shorty Carnes & Son, the Surplus Store, Eldon Ware Specialty Shop, The Tackle Box, UB Bookstores, Walkers Sewing Center, Wards, F.W. Woolworths, The Why Youth Town, and many more.
Wissel’s, Altman-Kramer Motors, Community State Bank and Wolf and Dessaur had grand openings in the ’50s. A very popular spot was Elaine’s Candies, formerly the Coffee Ranch, which remains today as The Party Shop. Automotive businesses were Hoffy’s, Frank Crews Motors, Fisher-Nash Motors, Scherger Chevrolet and Studebaker.
The Heritage Days Parade will be held Saturday, June 23 beginning at 10 a.m. The theme can be carried through on parade entries in the form of local representations of the 1950’s. A special representation from the previous 15 township schools is planned. Those interested in this special 2018 part of the parade should contact the Chamber. Participants in this year’s parade will be asked for a $25 fee per entry. Groups are considered as one entry. This fee along with a certificate of liability insurance must be submitted along with the parade registration form.
Activities that will be a part of this year’s Heritage Days festivities include the traditional Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe breakfast Thursday morning and the annual Rotary Strawberry Feed on Thursday evening. A car, truck, bike and motorcycle show will take place on Friday evening in downtown Huntington. A Sock Hop on the Courthouse lawn may also be a part of the evening.
Saturday afternoon following the parade will bring the Fun Zone children’s activities to downtown. A hot air balloon festival will continue through the weekend with a car show and balloon glow all on Saturday at Huntington North High School.
Tours at the Historic Forks of the Wabash and tours/exhibits at the Huntington Historical Museum will also be a part of Saturday’s festivities. JeFFFest will take place on Sunday evening, June 24, in the center block of downtown completing the Heritage Days festivities.
Poor Jack’s Amusements will once again be the carnival of choice for 2018. Rides and activities will be located in the Cherry Street area from Wednesday, June 20 through Sunday, June 24. Streets involved with the carnival will close on Monday, June 18 at 5 p.m. to allow for set-up.
Heritage Days are coordinated by a Steering Committee of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce. For more information contact the Chamber at (260) 356-5300 or visit the website at www.huntingtoncountychamber.com.