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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Looking Back at the Yuletide of 1948

Looking back 70 years, the Yuletide of 1948 was the culmination of a very interesting year in history. Harry Truman had pulled off one of the greatest political upsets in history when he defeated Gov. Thomas Dewey in that year’s Presidential election. Truman also launched the historic “Marshall Plan” that year, which helped to rebuild

Looking back 70 years, the Yuletide of 1948 was the culmination of a very interesting year in history.

Harry Truman had pulled off one of the greatest political upsets in history when he defeated Gov. Thomas Dewey in that year’s Presidential election. Truman also launched the historic “Marshall Plan” that year, which helped to rebuild and stabilize Europe against the threat of Russian Communism. The state of Israel was created in May. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. The Berlin Airlift also took place.

In popular culture, the game “Scrabble” was invented as was the 33 1/3 RPM long playing record. “Hamlet” won the Oscar for Best Picture. The big songs that year were “Nature Boy,” “Buttons and Bows” and the new Christmas favorite “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”

In the news at that Christmastime of 1948, Dutch troops were battling Indonesian freedom fighters attempting to establish an Indonesian Republic. Tojo and six other Japanese warlords were hung in Tokyo on December 23 for war crimes.

The Cleveland Browns defeated the Buffalo Bills 49-7 for the All-American Conference professional football league championship, as running back, Marion Motley scored three touchdowns. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Cardinals in a driving snowstorm in Philadelphia 7-0 for the National Football League championship, as the Eagles running back Steve Van Buren scored the only touchdown. About 100 Williamsport area gridiron fans braved the snow to attend this memorable contest.

Locally in sports, the Williamsport Millionaires basketball team recently won their 30th straight home game by defeating Mt. Carmel 41-24. This home winning streak stretched back to December 13, 1946. The Williamsport Billies of the Eastern Professional Basketball League were in a bit of a slump, having dropped three straight games. The Billies that year featured such players as Wes Myers, Ray Kodish, Larry Disque, and Perk Stabley.

Leo Williamson was completing the first year of his final term as mayor of Williamsport, and he was right in the middle of the city’s Christmas activities. On December 22 Williamson along with Lycoming College music professor, Walter McIvor led about 500 carolers in a Christmas carol sing on the courthouse plaza. Traffic was shut down on Third Street between Pine and Court streets for the event. J. Wright Mackey played the organ that was placed in the lobby of the courthouse. The Williamsport Civic Chorus was also on hand.

On December 24 Williamson led more than 2,400 children in singing carols at a special Christmas party put on by the AFL-CIO at the Capitol Theater, that featured a Roy Rogers movie and each child received a stocking filled with candy and small toys.

In a great example of the Christmas spirit, Harry Plankenhorn of 330 West Third Street, gave $20,000 to the Williamsport Sightless Home, one of the predecessors to the North Central Sight Services. He said he gave the money in memory of his parents who were German immigrants. The $20,000 was in the form of 20-$1,000 government bonds. He wanted the money to be used to expand the home since it was becoming overcrowded.

The Williamsport Post Office announced a record Christmas cancellation record for mail that season of 1.6 million pieces of mail for the period of December 12 to December 24.

The Lycoming County Community Chest announced that it gave almost $154,000 to 25 agencies.

Weis Markets were selling turkeys for 83 cents a pound, Cope’s evaporated corn for 19 cents a can and two cans of cranberry sauce for 34 cents. A six-pack of Pepsi in bottles was going for 30 cents, and potatoes were selling for 55 cents a peck at Landon’s Food Market.

At the movies that Yuletide were, “No Minor Vices,” starring Dana Andrews and Lilli Palmer at the Rialto. The Capitol had “Nighttime in Nevada,” with Roy Rogers and Trigger and the Park Theater had “Gallant Bess.”

Grit also announced that it was raising its price on its paper to 10 cents, beginning with the issue of January 2.

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