This is a 1795 oil painting by Rembrandt Peale of President George Washington, who considered lengthy portrait sittings for artists mind numbing.  (AP Photo/National Portrait Gallery)

1795 oil painting by Rembrandt Peale of President George Washington. (AP Photo/National Portrait Gallery)

George Washington, general, president, planter, was born today some 283 years ago. Since the early 19th Century our country has celebrated his birthday as a holiday.

Dinners, lectures and religious services were common ways to mark Washington’s Birthday back in the day. In 1932, on his 200th birthday Scranton had big plans to celebrate.

The day started off with a religious service at the Church of the Good Shepherd on N.Washington Ave and at the First Church of Christ, Scientist on Vine St. The Scranton School District held a flag raising ceremony at John Adams School where former U.S. Representative John Farr spoke.

In the evening more events were held. The Patriotic Order Sons of America held a dinner at their lodge on Pittston Ave. The guest speaker was Charles Small, special assistant U.S. Attorney General.  The Polish Americans held a banquet at the Hotel Casey that also honored Generals Kosciuszko and Pulaski.

The largest celebration of Washington’s birth was held at the Masonic Temple. Some 1,500 men and women attended an evening filled with sermons by Rabbi John J. Tepfer and the Rev. Dr. Henry H. Crane, an organ recital by Llewellyn Jones and signing from the Junger Maennerchor, a German choir based in Scranton.

In addition to celebrations, American businesses started marking Washington’s Birthday with big winter sales.  In the early 1960s, the Times started covering these sales with stand alone photos of shoppers enjoying bargains thanks to our nation’s first president. 

Images of shoppers at area department stores:

Shoppers at the Globe Store during their Washington's Birthday Sale on Feb 22, 1962. Times-Tribune Archives

Shoppers at the Globe Store during their Washington’s Birthday Sale on Feb 22, 1962. Times-Tribune Archives

Big crowd was on hand as Eynon Drug department store opened its doors at 9 on Feb 22, 1963 for shoppers for their Washington's Birthday sale. Times-Tribune Archives

A big crowd was on hand as Eynon Drug department store opened its doors at 9 on Feb 22, 1963 for shoppers for their Washington’s Birthday sale. Times-Tribune Archives

Shoppers at Scranton Dry Goods during their Washington's Birthday Sale on Feb 22, 1962. Times-Tribune Archives

Shoppers at a downtown Scranton department store during their Washington’s Birthday Sale on Feb 22, 1962. Times-Tribune Archives

Washington's Birthday sales triggered a wave of family shopping in the region. In this scene at Miracle Mart store in Dunmore on Feb 22 1963. Times-Tribune Archives

Washington’s Birthday sales triggered a wave of family shopping in the region. In this scene at Miracle Mart store in Dunmore on Feb 22 1963. Times-Tribune Archives

 

Shoppers raid the dress racks and purse counter during Washington's Birthday dale at Tower Mart, a discount department store in the Keyser Oak Plaza shopping center . Times-Tribune Archives

Shoppers raid the dress racks and purse counter during Washington’s Birthday dale at Tower Mart, a discount department store in the Keyser Oak Plaza shopping center . Times-Tribune Archives

 

Images of Washington’s Birthday Sale ads:

1940 – Globe Store

Globe Store 1940

1965 – Miracle Mart – O’Neill Highway and Monahan Ave – Dunmore

Miracle Mart Dunmore 1965

1965 – Providence Square Merchants 

North Scranton Sale 1965

 

Happy Birthday Mr. President,

Brian
Related links:

George Washington – http://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/georgewashington

Washington’s Birthday – the National Archives – http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/washington/

Annual reading of Pres. Washington’s Farwell address in the U.S. Senate: http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Washingtons_Farewell_Address.htm