Christmas was a lot different in Canal Winchester 80 years ago, said two of the village's older natives.

Christmas was a lot different in Canal Winchester 80 years ago, said two of the village's older natives.

"It wasn't a big deal like it is now," said 81-year-old resident Reno Robinett. "You didn't have anything to make it big."

Growing up in the 1930s, Robinett and Damon Shaw said they were lucky even to get Christmas gifts.

"It's like it's getting now," said Shaw, 85. "People are poor."

He paused for a moment and said, "We weren't real poor."

"Well, you was," Robinett added. "You just didn't know it; everybody was poor."

Shaw agreed. He said he remembers eating dandelion greens and fried potatoes. If he were lucky, he said, his mother would catch a "scrawny chicken" and cook it for Christmas dinner.

Robinett said he might have been fortunate enough to have an extra dessert on Christmas.

Nevertheless, the two said, by the 1940s things were looking up.

"In the 1940s, we was getting rich," Robinett said. "We had a dollar somewhere along the lines."

By that time, the two were from graduating high school, Shaw in 1941 and Robinett in 1945. The two said they went to school in the building that is now called the Canal Winchester Education Center at 100 Washington St. It was built in 1861.

"I can remember just like it was yesterday," Robinett said of his elementary school days. "I was the 23rd person who could count to 100 (in the class)."

Shaw said in those days, there at least 50 students per teacher. The teachers had different methods of discipline at their disposal as well.

Robinett recounted an occasion where an educator knocked a snoozing student out of his chair during class. The student thought twice before dozing in class again, he said.

Shortly after high school, Robinett and Shaw both joined the volunteer fire team in the village.

"We got a dollar a year and had to give it back by the end of the year," Robinett said.

He said he dressed as Santa one year and rode around the village on the fire truck to hand out candy to all the children.

"Yeah, we covered every street. 'Course the town wasn't that big then," he said. "It'd be so cold you couldn't hardly breathe."

Shaw said he remembers a time when village streets were made of dirt and when there were more horses in town than automobiles.

He recalled that most houses were heated by coal furnaces or stoves while he was growing up. He said his parents would make him clean out the soot from the furnace and drag it outside. He said it seemed like the snow was piled higher back then, mostly because there weren't mechanized snowplows to move the snow as it fell.

Robinett said he remembered one villager would pull children on their sleds behind a horse-drawn sleigh when there was a good snow.

The two locals said the economic recession of today is not at all like the era of the Great Depression and the world wars.

"I think in general, Canal Winchester is in really good shape," Robinett said. "In this time and period, with the economic conditions, (development) will happen, but not very quickly."

"It's going to be like a snail creeping a little bit at a time," Shaw said.

"Yes, sir, Canal Winchester has certainly changed," Robinett said.