Friday, December 8, 2006

A Christmas Tradition

Every year, when it came time to decorate the Christmas tree, when my mother and, later, my father, would unpack the lights and the ornaments, they'd find light strands that no longer worked, boxes of broken ornaments, and there would never be enough extension cords.

So, we'd all go out to buy what we needed. When we lived in South Jersey in the late sixties and into the seventies, there was always one place we went to first. This was a garden center/nursery called Gaudio's. My parents used Gaudio's in the summer too, for plants, fertilizer, lawn care items, and the like, but it was only when the Christmas season rolled around that Gaudio's became interesting to me. This store really outdid itself when it came to providing everything needed to decorate for the holidays.

As well as having aisles devoted to every type of Christmas decorating imaginable and also wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows, Gaudio's devoted one room as a kind of a Christmas wonderland. Inside this darkened room lit only by strands of Christmas lights, were several Christmas trees decorated in various styles. There was a winding path among the trees with fake snow covering the floor. As a kid, I couldn't wait to see this each year and it never failed to get me into the Christmas spirit. I don't know if I'd be as impressed seeing it now as an adult, but just remembering it now is enough to put me in a Christmas mood.

Indeed, while looking online to see if there was anything on the net about Gaudio's, I was suddenly overcome with a great homesickness for New Jersey, a place I've not seen in over 25 years. Unfortunately, all I could find were some passing references to this store, and I'm guessing it's no longer in business. Too bad.

Is there a place like Gaudio's in your Christmas past? And for those of you who lived in the South Jersey, Philadelphia metropolitan area, did any of you ever go to Gaudio's?


Anonymous said...

Oh YES!! I remember GAUDIOS!! Just like you, we anticpated going there every year around this time. Christmas season officially opened when Gaudios opened it's "dark" room.What a winter wonderland! I loved the animated animals which were
a noverty at the time. Thanks for the memory. We were just talking it the other day and decided to google it. Found your post.

Anonymous said...

I loved going to Gaudios every Christmas as a kid! It is a wonderful memory that comes into my mind every Christmas. After a bit of Googleing I found that G Boys is what the business goes by these days and is located in Marlton, NJ.
I am told that they still have the Winter Wonderland Room and the animated animals. I cant wait to take my kids,so they can have the same wonderful memory.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!! Gaudios. I remember. What a cool place to go when Christmas rolled around. I can recall the animated displays and the sound some of them made, like a vacuum. Maybe I am wrong, but I have such memories of begging my mother to take us to see what was new each year. Glad others have the same feelings.

Anonymous said...

Gaudio's was not only a childhood memory but I used to work there as a teenager. I had the most fun ever at that job, and worked with the best people ever. Christmas was the best time to be there, always busy and always a smile on everyone's faces when they walked through the front doors. I felt like as soon as you passed through those doors you left the real world behind and didn't want to leave the Christmas Enchantment that was on display there. Sadly Gaudio's closed down in 1989. It is quite sad that there are no photos on the internet but the visions will always be in our memories.

Anonymous said...

Gaudios! Loved it there! My grandmother and grandfather would take all of us there it was great. Now it is called G Boys and from what I read on the internet thay still do the Christmas display. Found your post while I was searching the internet to see if they are still around. Come on back to the Philly area, nothing like the mummers parade on New Years day!

Libertine said...

Thanks for all the recent comments, everyone. Gaudios remains one of my favorite chidhood memories, one that I'm sorry my son did not get to share.

I probably would have loved working there when I was a teen had I thought about it.

I would love to move back to South Jersey, but I can't afford it.