Reflection by Jacqueline Bennett

I grew up loving the city of Hartford, especially at Christmastime.

When I was a child, Hartford, Connecticut was a bustling holiday destination reminiscent of the lyrics from Silver Bells.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, Dressed in holiday style, In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas, Children laughing, People passing, Meeting smile after smile, and on every street corner you’ll hear Silver Bells, Silver Bells, It’s Christmastime in the city, ring-a-ling, Hear them sing, soon it will be Christmas Day, Strings of street lights, even stop lights, Blink a bright red and green, As the shoppers rush home with their treasures, Hear the snow crunch, See the kids rush, this is Santa’s big scene, And above all the bustle you’ll hear, Silver Bells, Silver Bells, It’s Christmastime in the city, Ring-a-ling, Hear them sing, Soon it will be Christmas Day.” – from Christmas Carol Here.



Time was when Hartford and G.Fox & Company were synonymous.

Nothing compares with the annual visits to Santa, at G.Fox & Co., I made as a youngster. The G.Fox experience was quite simply extraordinary! I have written before on newsandviewsjb about visiting Santa at “Fox’s” in downtown Hartford, but it is worth repeating.

Every winter my mother would pick out my prettiest dress, matching tights and black patent-leather shoes for me to wear to have my photo taken with Santa on the 11th floor of G. Fox. I would don my boots for the drive into the city. After my dad dropped Mom, my sister Candy and me off and headed to work, and once inside the store, I changed into my shoes – my coat, hat, mittens and boots went into a newly purchased G.Fox shopping bag my mother then carried throughout the day. This was also a day for shopping. Later, the annual sojourns included my niece Debbie and my nephews Mike and John – all of us dressed to meet Mom’s standards of proper attire for this special event.

I can still remember the excitement of the long ride up in the elevator to reach the 11th floor, the toy department. Then, with Mom tightly holding my hand, came the maneuvering through the aisles to a section decorated to resemble the North Pole, and the wait in line – 1 to 2 hours. Upon reaching the Jolly Ole’ Elf, inevitably a shyness would come over me when “Santa” asked what I wanted for Christmas. I could barely reply, and truthfully was eager to move on. Yet, the next year I happily anticipated going again. It would not have felt like Christmas without a visit to Santa at G.Fox in downtown Hartford. And, oh what fabulous decorations could be found on every floor of the store.

Our holiday trips into Hartford included stops at Sage-Allen – my boots back on to make our way through the snow. (Snow was not a television news drama then as it is now, rather it was simply part of life in New England.) The Salvation Army bell ringers positioned their collection buckets along Main Street, and just as she did, my mother would give me money to put in. The storefront windows were displays of winter wonderlands. In the evening we would meet Dad and go for dinner in the city.

There were also exhibits at the Wadsworth Atheneum to visit, plays at the Hartford Stage to see and enjoyment of the annual lighting of Constitution Plaza showing off thousands of tiny, sparkling, white lights, cascading down the water fountain and beautiful snow angels with their trumpets heralding the season.

I grew up loving the city of Hartford.