PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

December 3, 2013

Nostalgia surrounds Groves’ Santa

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

GROVES — One look at the life-sized vintage Santa inside the Merle Norman boutique in Groves and talk turns to childhood memories of Christmas and a longing for days of old.

The 1950s era Santa is a bit worn and is showing its age but the approximately 5-foot tall Santa still wears his signature red suit and features small round eyeglasses, black boots, rosy cheeks and bright eyes. A bell is clutched in his right hand and, with the flick of a switch, Santa pivots and rings the bell.

“I remember seeing one like him at Sears,” Donna Boyd, Merle Norman employee, said.

Betty Legnon, who was shopping in the boutique, smiled as she looked at the Santa.

“I remember going to Sears (once located on Woodworth Boulevard in Port Arthur). It was a big deal to go to Sears. This brings back so many memories.”

Memories of a simpler time, Boyd added.

The Santa is the property of Vickie Russell, a vendor at Bella Boutique inside the Merle Norman boutique at 4300 Lincoln Ave.

Beverly Herford, owner of the boutique is excited to have the addition in her shop.

“This brings back thoughts of a simpler Christmas,” Herford said.

Russell, who calls herself a textile artist, deals in vintage items. The Santa is the third of her collection of 1950s era, department store Santa’s. The one in the Merle Norman boutique came from a sale in Colmesneil. She sold the first two Santa’s and refuses to sell this one, she said.

Herford said Russell featured a witch display at Halloween that was purchased from Fred Miller’s 10 to 15 years ago. The display was a big hit so Russell asked Herford if she could bring in the vintage Santa and the rest is history.

Herford said she has had a lot of positive response to the Santa as well as hearing Christmas memories from her customers.

The Santa may have some wear and tear but that doesn’t stop the instant attraction.

“His face is so beautiful,” Russell said of the Santa. “The newer ones don’t have near the personality of the older ones.”

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews