Buffalo’s Christmases Past: A look back

By Steve Cichon

As the BN Chronicles staff celebrates Christmas, we’re taking a look back at some of the Christmas memories we’ve collected through the years.

Dec. 8, 1969: A Christmas full of masculine scents at Rite Aid

In the less-complicated world of 45 years ago, buying dad a gift from Rite Aid may have seemed far more appropriate than it may today.

With the choice of several distinct men’s fragrance sets by Aqua Velva, Skin Bracer, Hai Karate and Black Belt, the only reason to shop elsewhere for your dad would have been if he were an Old Spice guy.

Nov. 28, 1974: Buffalo’s great Christmas catalog stores

Shopping from home is easier than ever these days. You’re a web search, a few clicks and a credit card number from just about any product ever created.

That same searchability makes creating Christmas wishlists much easier, too. But remember when you had to write down the page number instead of emailing a weblink?

For decades, the wants, needs, hopes and desires of Buffalonians fit not into the vastness of the World Wide Web, but into the 180 pages of the Century and Brand Names catalogs.

Buffalo in the ’60s: Mom’s Christmas perfume at AM&A’s

Looking at the clip art and the premise behind this December 1962 ad for the AM&A’s toiletries department, one can quite easily picture, say, Ward Cleaver showing up in one of the six Adam, Meldrum and Anderson locations with this ad in hand.

Buffalo Stories archives

The perfume counter was on the main floor at the downtown location. Other locations were on Sheridan Drive, University Plaza, Thruway Plaza, Abbott Road and Airport.

Dec. 24, 1969: Fir boughs or fake? A look at Buffalo’s Christmas tree tastes

Christmas tree farmers in Amherst and Tonawanda were noting declines in sales of real trees 45 years ago this week, while the Sears store at Main and Jefferson noted robust sales of the fakes.

While the headline indicates some 1969 folks thought that real trees might go the way of lighting trees with real candles, the truth is, the farmers knew there would always be a place for a spruce or a fir in some Western New York living rooms come the end of December.

“The artificial tree: One day soon that’s all Yule see”

“The men who stand watch over Christmas tree lots in and around Buffalo concede that artificial trees are making inroads on their sales.

“But they steadfastly predict real trees, now known as ‘natural,’ will be around for countless Christmases to come.”

Dec. 25, 1969: Christmas in jail

The News didn’t print a Christmas Day paper in 1969, but on Christmas Eve, this photo of an inmate at the Erie County jail was at the top of the front page, just below the day’s headline.

Dec. 23, 1969: The Harlem Globetrotters play at the Aud on Christmas Day

“Abe Saperstein’s Fabulous Harlem Globetrotters” found their way to Buffalo 45 years ago this week, when they played Christmas night at Memorial Auditorium.

No word on how many of tickets were sold, but every seat was a good one. While the “Oranges” would be the cheap seats for more than two decades, in 1969, the roof had not yet raised and the steep, high orange seats had not yet been added.

Dec. 23, 1969: Buffalo’s AHL Bisons celebrate Christmas on ice

Buffalo Bisons Terry Crisp and Bill Plager join their families on the ice of the Fort Erie Arena for a holiday skating party.

Crisp later won two Stanley Cups with the Philadelphia Flyers, including in 1975 when the Flyers defeated the Sabres in the finals. He played for head coach Fred Shero in Philadelphia, the same man who coached him here with the Bisons.  Crisp became an assistant coach under Shero and eventually went on to be head coach of the Calgary Flames and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Plager played for the Minnesota North Stars, the St. Louis Blues and the Atlanta Flames before retiring from hockey in 1976.


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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.