Christmas on West Seventh Street
by Jerry Fearing
Dimensions: 9" x 6", 64 pages, 30 cartoons
CHRISTMAS ON WEST SEVENTH STREET is a nostalgic look back in words and cartoons to a simpler, more innocent time. In 1940 the country had just passed through the terrible Depression and the war in Europe was still half a world away. To a ten-year-old kid, the author’s neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, was the center of the universe—especially at Christmas. “Only now, when so much of it is gone or changed, do I realize what a treat it was growing up on ‘West Seventh,'” says Fearing.
Jerry Fearing was a staff artist and cartoonist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch for more than forty years.
REVIEW: Don Boxmeyer/Saint Paul Pioneer Press
Fearing was born on the Upper Levee; a Pole, he says, surrounded by Italians. He later lived on Wilkins Street and on Armstrong Avenue and was graduated from Monroe prior to serving with the Marines in Korea and becoming a professional artist.
“The book came out of just growing up on the West End,” says Fearing. “Pat Johnston, publisher of the Afton Press, told me to put some things together, and I hung some words between the cartoons about life in the neighborhood at Christmastime. What a flood of memories that set loose! I think today’s free time is so organized for kids. In those days, after you got to be 10 years old, your parents were glad to see you just go outside and do something.”
Fearing’s book includes those Christmas trips downtown to roam through the great old stores: Hush Brothers, the Golden Rule and the Emporium. He writes about swinging on ropes dangling from the trees on the bluff below Lexington Avenue—and I am reminded of how I, as a West Ender, did the same thing on the same bluffs a few years after.