The Pawn Shop Christmas Watch

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In 1950, I started working as a secretary for Procter & Gamble in their downtown corporate offices.  I worked in the very interesting TV and Radio Advertising Department when television was becoming more and more popular.  I loved the job, the beautiful old Gwynne Building  where P&G was located then, and being in downtown Cincinnati every day.


Long before Pawn Stars was popular on TV, there were several small pawn shops in downtown Cincinnati. Although my parents never went to pawn shops, one of my aunts was a steady customer.  She was always in trouble financially, yet each Christmas we were amazed to see the gorgeous gifts she received.  I remember one year she showed off an enormous dresser set with elaborate brushes, mirror, manicure tools – all in a satin lined chest.  We only saw it once  because it was immediately pawned and not redeemed.  That’s what happened to all of her elaborate gifts.

My Aunt Annie
My Aunt Annie

This was the first Christmas that I was out of high school, working for the grand sum of $30/week and paying $10 board.  I felt I was flush with money and wanted to get my mother something really special.  Mother had never owned a wrist watch in her life and I thought this would be the best gift I could give her.  I don’t know why I didn’t go to one of the big department stores in town, but for some reason I chose to go to a pawn shop to buy her watch.  I had never been inside this kind of store before but the gentleman was very nice to me and sold me a lovely watch for, as I recall, $15.  I could hardly wait until Christmas Eve to surprise Mother.

The watch in this picture is the way I remember the pawn shop watch
The watch in this picture is the way I remember the pawn shop watch

I haven’t been in a pawn shop since that first visit, but I have a soft place in my heart for the little store tucked away on Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati in 1950 where I bought a special Christmas gift for my mother.


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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

12 thoughts on “The Pawn Shop Christmas Watch”

  1. Lovely watch and so feminine. I have my mother’s watch and it looks much like yours. She passed away in 1945 so it must be about the same vintage as yours. Hubby still in the hospital, hope he comes home Monday.

  2. What a sweet story, Lillian! I bet your Mom cherished that watch the rest of her life. I love reading about your early days. I thought I was ancient, getting paid $5/hr. at my first nursing job. You’ve got me beat! LOL

  3. That’s a beautiful watch, and I know your mother loved it, after protesting that you shouldn’t have spent so much on her. =) I go to pawn shops a lot – it used to be a great bargain place for jewelry and musical instruments, but now not as much on the bargain side. I did get a great 6′ ladder this year, though!

  4. I am way behind on my reading and have found a quiet few moments on Christmas night to read………..and I am so lucky that I chose this one! It’s a lovely story and a lovely watch too.

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