Thursday, August 23, 2018


It is sad, so many of the icons from my youth are gone.  They are no more.  In their place stand empty buildings or empty lots.  I remember one of my favorite past times as a kid was when my mom would take us downtown.  We would wander through the big old department stores.  In my hometown it was Thornton’s, Grissom’s and Minter’s and of course Montgomery Ward and Sears and Roebuck’s. 

They had an elevator with an operator who would announce the floors.  They had perfume counters and glove counters they even had a special section with a clerk just for hats.  We didn’t have a lot of money but sometime when my mother needed something special we got to visit the downtown department stores.  Today I read where Sears is closing more stores.  J.C. Penny had already announced more closings.  I guess Amazon and Walmart have taken most of their business away.  Heck whatever you need you can get online.  But you can’t get a ride up the escalator to the Housewares Department or visit with Faye, the elevator operator, she announced you have reached Third Floor, Ladies foundations, lingerie and perfumes.  

And another thing, did you ever wonder what happened to Roebuck?  Did old Richard Warren Sears kick him out of the company?  Is he buried under the loading dock of a Sears in Spring Valley, Minnesota?   Or was he just the victim of a down turn in the economy which squeezed him out into bankruptcy.  Was he, like Trooper Bob, kicked out of the Sears and Roebuck’s? 

Oh, and I find it odd that a store that started out as a catalogue store is going out of business because it can’t compete with on-line catalogue stores. 
I digress once again.  Here is one of my favorite department store stories, told to me by a co-worker of mine.  I have never entered a Sears and Roebuck’s that I didn’t think of this story.

Martin and his wife, Letty, held the hand of their sweet little boy, Alfonso as they walked through the aisles of the brand-new Sears and Roebuck’s downtown store.  The floors were polished terrazzo, the walls bright tile.  A large grinding escalator stood in the middle of the store lifting patrons from one floor to the next.
Alfonso squealed with delight.  He burst loose from his parents and ran to the toy department.  Red Ryder B.B. guns, little green army men, Lincoln logs and stuffed Teddy bears filled the racks and invited the tot to play.  Martin caught up with his five-year-old son, promising they would revisit the toys once Mommy and Daddy had gone to housewares.  A little disappointed he reluctantly let his dad lead him away from his panacea.  He waved goodbye to the giant Howdy Doodie puppet suspended above the toys
Up the escalator they floated, Alfonso jumping up and down watching over the side as the people down below got smaller and smaller.  They exited to the third floor where he exited hoping to find new wonders.  He lagged behind his mom and dad when he realized all that was here was furniture and refrigerators. 

Letty ran to the large pink Cold Spot chest freezer.  She fussed over it, expounding on the color and how it would match her all pink kitchen.  Martin appreciated it ample size, commenting that the thing he looked for in a freezer was how many bodies it would hold.  Letty slapped his arm and told the horrified salesman that he was just joshing, but behind her back Martin mouthed no I’m not. 

Not wanting to offend the ominous looking man in the black suit and his wife, the salesman expounded on the virtues of the new frostless freezer.  He told of all the time Letty would save on all that tedious defrosting.  Then he asked if the couple had any children.  That is the exact moment Martin and Letty realized little Alfonzo was missing. 

Panic rose in Letty’s throat and Martin began scanning the area for his little dark headed boy.  The rushed from aisle to aisle.  Sales Clerks from all over the store rushed to aid in the search of the tike.  Thelma from lingerie blocked the entrance and exit off the escalator on the second floor.  Marge in accessories took time off from selling Mrs. Thibodeaux the most stylish hat she had ever seen to look under racks and in dressing rooms for the young man.  The store was in an upheaval.
Martin rounded the corner to find a crowd gathered around a display, a bathroom display.  The crowd was in various stages of disgust, laughter and amazement.  He pushed his way to the front of the crowd to find little Alfonzo happily sitting on the display toilet with his pants around his ankles and a picture book in his hands.  Letty showed up about then and let out a scream, “Oh my baby boy!  What are you doin?” 
“Why momma, I’m going number two.  You told me it weren’t good to hold it in.  It made me have a bad attitude” the little innocent replied.
That’s the day that Martin, Letty and Alfonzo were kicked out of the Sears and Roebuck’s.  And Letty never did get her big pink frostless Cold Spot Freezer.


1 comment:

Mary Lou said...

That was a nice stroll down memory lane.
And then Alphonso pooped.😂