There has been a meme going around the genealogy blogs, started by Lori Thornton of Smoky Mountain Family History about long gone stores of yesteryear. I’ve read a few of them and it sparked my own memories of the shops we’d go to in downtown Dayton.
Those were the days of department stores where each department was located on a different floor. I remember the escalator rides. Most notably as a child we went to Rike’s (photo courtesy of Preservation Dayton) – which no longer exists – and Elder-Beerman. Sometimes JC Penney’s.
Wright State University Libraries page notes that the seven story building was built in 1912 on the corner of Main and Second Streets in Dayton, Ohio. In 1982 Rike’s merged with Shilito’s and became Shilito-Rikes. In 1986 the company became Lazarus. The building in Dayton was imploded to make way for the Schuster.
We would start on the ground floor and ride up. I remember the “white” floor. Nothing but linens, sheets, and draperies. Ninety-nine percent of the merchandise was white. Heavy linens. Not sure why that image is stuck in my head.
At Christmas we would park in a convenient parking garage and walk the sidewalks of downtown Dayton until we’d get to one of the stores. Up we’d go until we’d get to Santa’s Wonderland. Beautiful displays of mechanical boys, girls, elves, and reindeer were set up. There was a children’s puppet show and then finally, the big man himself – Santa Claus – would appear. All of the children would line up to tell him what we wanted for Christmas and get the annual Photo with Santa taken!
Whenever my mother needed a store-bought new dress, I remember the dressing rooms with their very heavy curtains (not doors). I’d sit and wait patiently in the “viewing” room until she’d come out and stand in front of the bank of mirrors to check the fit. Those were the days when the sales ladies would bring clothes into the dressing rooms for you or take them away instead of leaving them on a rack somewhere. They’d also help you dress. Very specialized and personal service.
Then there were the stores closer to where we lived. Going to Kresge’s 5 and 10 cent store was a weekly occurrence. It was like Woolworth’s. Rows and rows of discount items. I loved to look at all the toys and dolls and wander over to the pet department where they really had fish and birds. I saw a mynah bird in Kresge’s once for $15 (hey it was the late 60s!) and begged my mom to buy it! I was a huge fan of “Bewitched” and loved the mynah bird on that show. Plus it talked! She didn’t get it for me!
Then there was Goldman’s in Kettering. It was a predecessor to stores like K-mart and Wal-Mart. In the early 1970s a young school teacher was murdered and they found her in her car that was parked in Goldman’s parking lot. (There was a book written about it called “The Girl on the Volkswagon Floor” written by William Arthur Clark). We’d go there about once a month to look.
My dad was a huge window shopper. We’d go shopping just because. Mom hated it! If she goes shopping, it’s for a reason.
I’d also find myself with my dad in Hardware stores. This was before the big box home improvement stores. The only things that really fascinated me were the bins of screws, nuts and bolts. They were all so shiny!
After I learned to ride my bike – before the era of “stranger danger” – when kids could ride for miles and had to be home by dark, my friends and I would look for glass bottles to turn in for cash (remember those days?) so we could hit Lawson’s (a convenience type store) for candy. Nickel Hershey bars and yard-long bubble gum!
As a dependent of an Air Force veteran, we also shopped at the BX (Base Exchange) – sometimes called the PX (Post Exchange). I remember getting my penny loafers there almost every year.
It seemed that no matter what type of store we went to, the cash registers were all in the front of the store. So as the way shops did business and became more “modern”, I thought it was very odd finding cash registers within the departments of stores instead of located all together.
As I was compiling this, I had to Google several things to make sure my memory was correct and came across a website called Dayton in the 60s and 70s with many references to stores and sights I remember in the Dayton area from my childhood.
Thanks for a trip down memory lane!
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