Among Anderson’s long-standing Christmas traditions over the years were a Christmas parade, a visit by Santa, a tree on Courthouse Square and an annual newsboy’s dinner, which has mostly been forgotten. That’s a pity, because it’s an interesting Anderson story.
The Anderson newsboy’s Christmas dinner was first held in 1909. It was hosted and paid for by Jacob Schuster, a merchant who had come to Anderson the year before to set up a business. It must have been something of a small miracle that Schuster arrived in Anderson at all, because his life prior to then had been spent moving around.
Jacob Schuster was born in Pittsburgh. His parents were Russian immigrants. His family moved to Louisville, Ky. when he was 12. Two years later, Schuster set out in business for himself in a rather spectacular way. He traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa and set up a chain of mobile stories in the Kimberley diamond mine district. He operated these for three years and picked up an impressive knowledge of South African dialects during that time. When the Boer War began, Schuster joined the British Army, where his knowledge of African languages enabled him to rise to the level of a lieutenant in the British intelligence service.
After 10 years in South Africa, Schuster came home to Louisville, got married and opened a clothing store in Louisville. In 1908, he brought his wife and younger brother to Anderson, where he opened a men’s clothing store. Schuster Brothers was located on the northwest corner of Eighth Street and Main (which is the current location of Star Financial Bank.) The store specialized in high-quality, stylish menswear. Their motto was “Customer satisfaction with every transaction.”
The store was successful from the beginning. Not content with being solely a success in business, Schuster looked for ways to be part of the community’s life. The first idea he put into practice was inviting all of Anderson’s newsboys to Christmas dinner.