One hundred years ago, holidays in Des Moines apparently involved as much shopping as it does today. Advertisements in the Des Moines Tribune for holiday gifts were plentiful, a couple from stores with names we still recognize. Younker Brothers had hand bags for $1.29 and wallets for 23 to 69 cents. At S. Joseph and Sons, “reliable watches can be purchased as low as $10.” You could buy a “quarter sawed oak finely finished rocker” for $6.45 at Bard & Hammer, and Harger & Blish was your “headquarters for Victrolas and Edisons.” The Grand was giving “S&H double stamps” all week. “Children’s Wash Dresses” were as low as 69 cents at J. Mandelbaum & Sons, and at the Iowa Seed Company you could purchase a Christmas tree holder for 25 cents. And, as if plucked straight from today’s newspaper, one story’s headline read “Slippers will be popular presents.”
There were pictures of the “new municipal building soon to be occupied.” The Knights Templar ball was held at the Shrine Temple and was “a brilliant affair and one of the notable events of the holiday season,” and there was an abundance of Christmas parties on the Society Calendar. At the same time, the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage started a campaign to organize the state efforts to “grant political rights to women.”
Seven inches of snow covered the city the day after Christmas. Roads were then unpaved, but if you could get to the Rock Island station, you could travel to Chicago on one of five trains leaving daily. On the way to the station in your motorcar, you would have to adhere, of course, to the ten miles-per-hour speed limit.
And don’t get the idea that after-holiday clearance sales are anything new.