1976 may have been the best of times for Almeda Mall.
Still not quite a decade old, with Baybrook still years away from competing, Almeda had grown from the "stores on the prairie" to the center of a bustling, swelling neighborhood in the South Belt. Homes were going up, people were moving in, and the area thrived. The oil boom was in full swing, the bust still in the future, and people were primed for shopping.
Almeda pulled out all the stops for the Christmas season.
The central fountain was covered with a "tree" of poinsettias, its arches festooned with lit garland.
In the center of the mall was the train track with decorations in the center representing the Twelve Days of Christmas. It was surrounded by Singer's, Houston Trunk Factory, Sampieri's Gourmet Shop, Card Mart, and Spencers on one side, with Leopold, Price & Rolle, Chess King, Kathy James, and Hardy Shoes on the other, with the Nut Hut and Bombay Shop at the center. Little kids would line up for a ride on Santa's Express (with the '76 in the center of the engine).
Baldwin Pianos was decked out with a forest of Christmas trees.
And the windows showed off the finest in 1976 fashions. The one below is Palais Royal's:
And down at the Penney's end, a Candy Cane decked tree, along with the possibility of winning $250 in "Mall Money" if you correctly guessed the number of canes on it, sponsored by KXYZ. The drawing would be held at 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. $250 would be more than $1000 in 2014 dollars.
There were no photos taken from this set on the Foley's end, but many remember the second floor turning into a winter wonderland, replete with trees and decorations, and a gift-wrapping room that was insanely busy, with presents in the shiny wrapping papers all along the walls.
Christmas Cheer, all around.
This post kicks off the holiday season here at the South Belt blog. Come back daily for another dose of Christmas memories now through December 25!