Friday, July 6, 2012

Delaware County Daily Times 3-30-63.png
Click to enlarge

Remember my recent blog entry about William E. Finigan's invoices and receipts from the 1940s? Two readers were curious enough to do a little digging on Mr. Finigan, which led me to do a bit more research myself. One of the things I came up with, as you can see above, was Mr. Finigan's obituary, which was published on March 30, 1963, in the Delaware County Daily Times. The obituary says Mr. Finigan was 84 at the time of his death. That's consistent with the information found in this early biography of him, published in 1914, which states that he was born in 1879.

A few other notes regarding Mr. Finigan:

• As you may recall from that earlier blog entry, Mr. Finigan owned a furniture store -- the Darby Furniture Exchange. He advertised frequently in a local Pennsylvania newspaper called the Chester Times, running dozens of classified ads during the 1940s. Here are two fairly typical examples:

Screen shot 2012-06-30 at 4.18.36 PM.png

• According to the obituary, Mr. Finigan retired 10 years prior to his death, which would have been 1953. Eight years later, the furniture shop -- which by this point was being run by William's son Harold -- caught fire. Here's the story from the Sept. 8 edition of the Delaware County Daily Times (click to enlarge):

Delaware County Daily Times 9-8-61.png

According to the story, "[T]he store was jammed with used furniture. [The local fire chief] said fire officials have complained to the owner about the clutter." This is particularly ironic given that Mr. Finigan's obituary says he was "a life long member of Darby Fire Co. No. 1." Of course, he was 82 years old by the time of the fire, so he likely wasn't manning any of the hoses as the local firemen tried to save his family's shop.

• The shop was apparently rebuilt. According to this 1996 article, Harold Finigan -- William's son, who by this time was 87 years old himself -- was still running the Darby Furniture Exchange and had established a long-running annual tradition of hanging holiday decorations on Main Street around Christmastime. The article also states, "[Harold] Finigan said his father began the decorating tradition sometime during World War I."

Harold Finigan is likely deceased by now (either that or he's 103 years old). I can't find any current listings for the Darby Furniture Exchange, so the shop is likely gone as well. Does anyone out there know if anybody is still hanging Christmas decorations on Main Street in Darby?

(My thanks to Barbara Zimmer and James Breig for their contributions to this entry.)

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