Shall I wrap that up for you?

April 19th, 2013

I’m just barely old enough to remember shopping in a real department store — with a clerk behind each counter, ready and eager to display their wares for your selection. Yeah, I know Macy’s, Saks, and Bloomingdale’s still have counters in some parts of their stores, but it’s not like the old days. To whit, Auntie Mame and the roller skates, or Mary Livingstone at the May Company. That magical moment when you say “I’ll take it — please wrap it up and have it sent to my hotel.”

While shifting my yarn stash into its new tower earlier this week, I emptied out these boxes, relics of the department store days.

Penney's Hat Box

This hat box from J. C. Penneys is older than I am. It probably came from my grandmother’s house.  Based on the font, I’d say it’s 1970s.

Newark Department Store Box

This one goes back to my childhood — I can still remember buying Christmas presents (leather gloves and a wallet for my father) at the Newark Department Store in the little (then) college town where I grew up.  Merchandise wasn’t just laying around to sift through, you had to go up to each glass display counter and point to what you wanted, or wait for the clerk to show you a hidden bargain. Clothing was on racks in the center of the store. Downstairs there were housewares, a bargain basement section, and a counter with clothing and supplies for girl and boy scouting.

After a shopping trip, it was next door to Woolworth’s for grilled cheese at the counter. Then we’d look at the parakeets in their little compartments, waiting to be taken home. Sigh.

Gee,  I’m not usually so maudlin. Must be spring fever setting in.