By Sherrin Grout

For The Union Democrat

In the 21st century, Christmas carols may be playing in stores by Halloween, stores will have Christmas decorations for sale early in November, and store windows will be decorated way before Thanksgiving. Except for the timing, none of this is new.

Decorated shop windows are not a specially new custom nor is using Santa Claus as a commercial incentive. In the United States, as early as the 1820s, Santa Claus was used to sell shop goods, and by the 1840s Santa Claus was used in newspaper advertisements for presents. There was even an 1854 complaint that Christmas was becoming too commercial.

This image shows a slightly updated version of decorated windows as it was taken in 1930 by Henry Ruoff and is part of the Ruoff collection at the Tuolumne County Historical Society.

The automobile is covered with artificial snow. To the right of the car is the wall that was between the garage ramp and the restaurant on the north side of the building. The glass wall at the back separated the parts department, run by Emil Labarth, from the show room.

The Central Garage is the location of the current Coffill Park on Washington Street in Sonora. Originally the City Livery Stable, by this time Harry Leonard Lepape operated the Chevy dealership in 1928 which then became Central Motors.

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