Naperville 1920 Flashback: Special Christmas Presents
While the 1920s started cautiously, with the country still recovering from the war and the Spanish flu, the decade would go on to enjoy unprecedented prosperity and technological wonders before onset of the Great Depression.
Christmas gifts increasingly included big-ticket items for the home. Kitchens had been evolving with the addition of plumbing and electricity. For years, the kitchen area was mainly a table and some open shelves because wet and messy prep work was done in the scullery or outside while food was stored in a cool larder or cellar. A popular gift in the 1920s was a free-standing cabinet that stored the most often used food prep items and was equipped with flour and sugar dispensers.
Beidelman’s furniture store offered these for sale in The Clarion, one of Naperville’s earliest newspapers. Frederick Long opened the store in 1861 who sold it to his nephew Oliver Beidelman. Family continues to run the shop on Washington Street to this day.
Another in-town furniture store, Friedrich’s, advertised Victrola phonographs for the family, which is also a pricey gift at $99. This shop was on Jefferson in the building where Floyd’s 99 Barbershop currently operates. Charles Friedrich had only recently become the proprietor after having worked for the previous owner, John Kraushar.
It’s funny to see the “young folks” dancing in the advertisement since dancing was mostly frowned upon in Naperville at the time. A member of Naperville High School class of 1933 recalls that at their senior banquet, “none of us in the class were allowed to dance at the Tea Room. Our town was located in the middle of the Bible Belt, and social dancing was still considered in the ‘near occasion of sin’ category.”
As was common, both Beidelman and Friedrich were undertakers as well as furniture makers because coffin-building is similar to furniture-building. Both continue to operate businesses today as Friedrich- Jones Funeral Home and Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Homes & Crematory.