f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

Santa Claus arrives at Town Plaza by helicopter

Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009, at 1:22 AM

A crowd greets Santa Claus after the jolly old gent stepped out of a helicopter at Town Plaza Shopping Center in Cape Girardeau. The picture was made by G.D. Fronabarger in the early 1960s.

These Town Plaza stores are listed in the 1962 Cape Girardeau city directory:

DeLayne's Ladies Ready to Wear, Town Plaza Cafeteria, Gamble Stores, W.T. Grant Co., Key Rexall Drug Store, F.W. Woolworth Co., Mode O'Day Frock Shop, Hahn's Shoe Store, Town Plaza Coin Wash, Top Value Redemption Store, Kroger Co., Voges Town Plaza Standard Service.

The 1964 city directory adds these stores to the Arcade building:

James R. Crites, optometrist; Gay Nineties Barber Shop, Town Plaza Beauty Salon, Robert A. Werner, chiropractor; Garber's Men's Wear, Bullock Piano Salon, Automotive License Bureau.

From the Southeast Missourian, June 12, 1973:

The W.T. Grant Co. store in Town Plaza was one of the original businesses when the shopping center was opened, and it has remained the largest in retail area with the exception of the Sears facility, which came later.

Opening in August, 1960, the store features soft lines of goods, carried in self-service type displays. Clothing of all types for all members of the family are carried, along with cosmetics, household goods, pets and pet supplies.

Customers, report the management, have come from all over the area -- Farmington to St. Marys, the Bootheel and southern Illinois. Also featured is a line of candies, lunch and soft drinks service and a range of garden supplies, in season.

The store here is one of 1,200 the company operates throughout the nation.


According to Wikipedia, William Thomas Grant, the store's founder, died in 1972 at age 96. The W.T. Grant story ended in 1976 with the then-second-biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.


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  • I don't remember Santa at the Town Plaza parking lot, but I do remember Bobby Kennedy there.

    -- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Dec 17, 2009, at 2:51 PM
  • I remember Santa at Town Plaza. What were the other stores in the Plaza at the time of this photo? Thanks, Fred-another great trip down memory lane.

    -- Posted by Smartblonde on Thu, Dec 17, 2009, at 3:03 PM
  • Fred,

    I saw Frony's picture just about the time I was editing negatives that I had shot in that same general era of a circus elephant visiting the Town Plaza.


    That was clear evidence that Cape's shopping focus had moved westward. A decade earlier, those pictures would have been taken on Main Street.

    Little did Frony and I know at the time that in another couple of generations the Town Plaza would be leap-frogged by an even more western shopping area.

    (By the way, here's a piece I did on One-Shot Frony:

    http://www.capecentralhigh.com/cape-photos/one-shot-frony/ I don't think there was anyone who lived in SE Missouri who hadn't been shot by Frony at some point or another.)

    -- Posted by ksteinhoff on Thu, Dec 17, 2009, at 8:05 PM
  • I'm pretty sure that is my Daddy as Santa Claus. I remember him arriving by helicopter with Frony there to photograph. I had forgotten all about this; thanks for the memory.

    -- Posted by hildalhobbs on Sun, Dec 20, 2009, at 2:55 PM
  • That's My Daddy. Is there any way I could get a printed picture of this and the next one?

    -- Posted by hildalhobbs on Mon, Jan 25, 2010, at 2:45 PM