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A Christmas memento from “The GRIT”

By Staff | Dec 21, 2010

A calendar was given to visitors at a 1953 Christmas open house hosted by “The GRIT,” is a treasured reminder of an employee and the former publishing firm.

A special memory was sparked recently when an article concerning the former Grit Publishing Company was reprinted in a local paper. It listed a 1935 event announcing “Hundreds Accept ‘Open House’ Invitation and Inspect Grit Building.” The site was at the corner of West Third and William Streets in Williamsport.

As I read the account, I found the activities similar to those I’d experienced in December 1953. At that time my sister, Ruth Sones Sholtis, was employed in Grit’s subscription department. Employee’s families were invited to visit the facility before treated to a Christmas party.

During the tour, workers were posted at their work stations so visitors could view how they went about their day to day duties.

According to the reprinted 1935 clipping, when reaching the third floor composing room, registered visitors were presented with lineotype slugs carrying their names.

In 1953, visitors were given calendars which when rotated revealed dates from 1954 through 1981. Made of metal and less than two inches square, the memento was produced by Anderson & Sons of Westfield, Massachusetts.

On the calendar’s flip side, the Grit logo appears accompanied by the wording “America’s Greatest Family Weekly, favorite in more than 725,000 small town homes.” It also advertised “fine commercial printing and engraving.”

The visit to the Grit was monumental for a rural youngster not yet a teenager. The city, the massive building, the bee hive of activity plus the sounds of plunging printing presses was a far cry from spending five hours daily in a small milking parlor.

The monotonous farm chores required repeating every day 365 days a year which might explain why a visit to the Grit was so emphatically imprinted in my memory.

Our family did religiously celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with music, recitations and dramas at church, but otherwise most Christmas seasons came and went with little fanfare.

An added bonus to having a sister employed with Grit was she saved for me, cancelled postage stamps from envelopes holding subscription requests.

My sister’s time with the renowned publisher was short as her husband died after an illness of several months.

The widow sold their house in Montoursville and moved back home to Moreland Township taking an office position at Sprout-Waldron in Muncy.

Somehow over the decades, I’ve been able to hold on to the Grit calendar. Finally in 2008, after stuck in boxes and drawers amongst other precious things, it became part of a permanent display.

On a quilted wall hanging paying tribute to the women in my family, the calendar is attached to one of 25 blocks. It’s prominently poised on a background of two appropriate fabrics. The first is the likeness of a news account from 1954 when Hawaii was voted into the Union as the fiftieth state. It’s backed by a second fabric showing a collage of cancelled stamps.

Much has changed since that Christmas season 57 years ago. Local publishing by the Grit has ceased and this will be the 20th Christmas since my sister died. Not for long is either out of sight or mind as the quilted tribute reminds me of one happy and exciting holiday of the past.