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Holiday Shopping on the North Side of the Square in 1937
Bay City, Texas


During the year of 1937, the Great Depression still had a strangle hold on the citizens of the United States. Despite the Depression, many firsts occurred. The radio soap opera, the Guiding Light premiered, J. R. R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit” was published, Prince Valiant debuted as a comic strip as did Daffy Duck, Elmer J. Fudd and Petunia Pig. The Golden Gate Bridge was dedicated, Spam was introduced by Hormel, Joe DiMaggio hit his first grand slammer and Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. The citizens of Matagorda County also heard about the New London, Texas gas explosion and a man named Hitler on their radios.

Even though times were hard, the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas brought a time of thankfulness and hope to the world and with the preparations for Christmas came SHOPPING!

Saturday was the day for shopping for Matagorda County citizens who lived on farms and in the many small communities scattered throughout the county. Those shopping visitors and the residents of Bay City patronized the stores on the north side of the courthouse square. According to a map printed in the Matagorda County Century of Progress Edition on August 23, 1937, the businesses on the north side of the square included the Doubek Texaco service station which was open “all day and all night,” D. P. Moore Dry Goods, Butler-Grimes, Rosenzweig’s, Etie’s Café, Johnnie’s Bakery, Hood’s Variety, C. W. Smith Market, and Taylor Bros. Furniture and Funeral Home.

In 1937, The Matagorda County Tribune carried a shopping column written by Tootsy Whitaker, editor of The Women’s Page editor “Thru the Shops With Toots.” Toots recommended places to shop and items they carried for graduates, brides, students going back to school, Thanksgiving and Christmas among others. Some of her recommendations for businesses on the north side of the square included:

TAYLOR BROS. has an attractive window display of Thanksgiving dining suite specials! And the nice part about trading at TAYLOR BROS.—They will give you such a liberal allowance on your old suite…For a small monthly balance you will be able to enjoy one of these beautiful sets or a dinette—they are all priced amazing low!

Stop at ETIE’S CAFÉ for lunch. A delicious plate lunch served anytime for 35c, including a drink, choice of meats, four vegetables, salad, dessert and hot bread. Perhaps you would like “something different.” You are sure to find it at ETIE’S—all kinds of sea foods, frog legs, juicy steaks, chicken. Always “something different.”

Shining new kitchen utensils, the really good kind that will last for years, make a nice gift—and you will probably need a new supply in your own kitchen. Why not choose a useful assortment of smartly designed colorful kitchen utensils at BUTLER-GRIMES? They are so reasonably priced and you have so much to choose from!

Rosenzweig’s—dresses, Peter Pan frocks, Fieldcrest piece goods, shoes, men suits and work clothes, Tom Sawyer boy’s clothing—newly opened on May 7, 1937.

Shoppers could just window shop or visit D. P. Moore Dry Goods and Rosenweig’s to buy clothing for their families. Rosenszweig’s was air-conditioned and managed by Max Epstein. They carried pajamas, ties, weathers, underwear, “sox,” jewelry, work clothes, dresses, hosiery, hats, shoes and piece goods.

A stop at Taylor Bros. gave mother an opportunity to admire the new Frigidaire appliances and the Electrolux gas and kerosene refrigerators. She could also buy a radio or purchase new furniture to accommodate all of those relatives who would be visiting for the holidays.

The noses of the children were no doubt pressed against the windows of Butler-Grimes and Hood’s Variety as they dreamed of receiving the toys displayed there. M. F. Daughtry, manager of Butler-Grimes, probably didn’t appreciate the nose prints unless they led to a sale.

At lunchtime, Etie’s was the perfect choice for a meal of “something different.”

Before leaving home father would visit Doubek’s Texas Service Station to fill up the family car or pickup while mother did her grocery shopping at C. W. Smith’s to stock up on all of the ingredients she would need for her holiday meals. She could buy 48 pounds of Sweet Rose Flour for $1.78, 10 pounds of Imperial Sugar for 40¢, 1 pound of homemade butter for 33¢, and 2 cans of Sunbrite Cleanser for 9¢ to clean up after the dinner or for the family pet, 2 cans of Marco Brand Dog Food for 21¢.

While father loaded the groceries, mother’s last stop would be Johnnie’s Bakery to buy freshly-made Butter Krisp Bread since they didn’t live on one of the many routes where Johnnie’s fresh bread was delivered.

After a day in “town,” it was time to return home with all of their purchases only to return the next Saturday to shop again.








Copyright 2011 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Dec. 9, 2011
Dec. 9, 2011