Rubel's celebration

Howard Johnson designed a display commemorating the war victory at Rubel’s Department Store.

People took to the streets to celebrate Japan’s surrender in 1945, and Corinth was no exception.

The famous Rubel’s Department Store had a special display for the occasion. It was designed by Howard Johnson, a name that many will recall as an accomplished commercial artist. His son, Ricky Johnson, shared this photo of his father’s work for the celebratory time.

After getting out of the Army, Howard Johnson, who was from Memphis, came to Corinth when he was hired by Abe Rubel to handle designing for the Corinth department store at Cruise and Fillmore.

“That was one of his first projects,” his son said. “He took a mannequin and worked it around and made a Statue of Liberty out of it and put it up there on the porch.”

His son has heard that people came downtown and celebrated in the streets as the news broke. At Rubel’s, Lady Liberty stood in the spotlight.

“I know he was rushed because they knew the surrender was going to be any day, because they had dropped the bomb,” said Ricky Johnson, who worked in the sign business for 35 years.

Howard Johnson made mannequins, and he did some work with Shoney’s on the “big boy” seen outside some of the restaurants. He also did design work in Memphis for Lowenstein’s and Goldsmith’s department stores.

At Goldsmith’s, he was involved in designing the memorable Enchanted Forest, a must-see at Christmastime. That display is now in the hands of the Pink Palace Museum.

“After you got through the little trail of the Enchanted Forest, you would go to see Santa Claus and tell him what you wanted for Christmas,” said Johnson.

In later years, Howard Johnson took up oil painting. The one time that I recall meeting him, in my very early days with the DC, was to write about an exhibit of his work at the Corinth Library. He died in 2003.

Ricky Johnson has some of his father’s paintings on his walls.

Sharing a memory of the old days, he told of riding with his father.

Sometimes the elder Johnson would load up the station wagon with unclothed mannequins for his work at Goldsmith’s, creating a somewhat humorous scene as they hit the road.

“We’d get all these strange looks,” he recalled with a chuckle. “I was kind of embarrassed about it.”

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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