Saturday, January 27, 2007

Take or Send?

A couple of weeks ago when Joe and I were in the car on our long drive down to Virginia, we got to talking about shopping. I had been to the mall earlier in the week for one of those twice-a-year major shopping trips for basic necessities like socks and pillows and the like. So shopping, something I don't generally look forward to unless it is for fabric, was fresh in my mind.
. . . .
We remembered how back when we were kids, if we went shopping with our parents at a major department store, when a purchase was made, the clerk would inquire, "Take or send?" The big department stores in Philadelphia had some kind of an arrangement with UPS and it didn't cost any more to have your package sent home instead of being burdened with it while you did the rest of the shopping. And the next day there was all that fun of a package arriving, even though you already knew what was inside..
. . .
Joe talked about how his parents went to Trenton for their major shopping expeditions. I don't remember my parents going shopping together ever. My mother took care of any shopping that had to be done.
. . . .
A couple of times a year she would "go downtown." It was always planned well in advance and was usually scheduled for a "Clover Day," the big sale at Strawbridges. If a trip downtown fell during a time that I was off from school, I got to go along.
. . . .
I don't have a whole lot of good memories of times with my mother. But the shopping downtown is surely one of them! We'd take the 9:09 train, arriving about a half-hour later, and then walk from store to store, making our purchases and having them "sent." Several of the department stores were clustered together down around 8th and Market, and we'd go there first. Then, when we were close to finished with all of the things on the list, we'd walk up to Wanamakers, our favorite store. We'd have lunch at the Crystal Tea Room and had to take the elevator to get there -- it was probably on the 8th or 9th floor of this very large department store. We always got the same thing for lunch: Tea sandwiches, tea for mother and chocolate milk for me, and chocolate mint ice cream for dessert. I can picture those sandwiches and taste that ice cream to this day.
. . . .
After lunch we'd do whatever shopping remained at Wanamakers and then came the very best part of the day -- before we would go and catch the train for home, we'd cross Chestnut Street, passing the blind pencil salesman who never seemed to look any different from year to year, and go into the great big Woolworths where we'd go downstairs to where the children's things were kept and pick out a brand new book of paper dolls for me. The clerk never asked, "Take or send." She knew I'd want to start cutting them out right away.

8 comments:

P.S. an after-thought said...

Ah yes, someone who remembers paper dolls. My cousin and I use to play with the paper dolls. We'd make clothes for them, paper, of course. And one of our tricks was to cut them apart at the legs, actually, between the legs, and patch in a piece of thick paper where the back leg was supposed to be, so that the two legs could be separated. Hard to explain from an old memory.

Are there even still paper dolls?

Patti said...

I was another paper doll addict. I don't remember playing with them all that much, but I think that all of that early cutting helped me develop skills that assist me in cutting out first clothing and now quilt pieces with great accuracy.

Pam said...

I loved to cut out paper dolls. I never really played with them much once the cutting was done. It was not the same when they brought out the ones that you didn't have to cut - just punch the perforations. Then I stopped.

I lived in a very small town as a child so there were no trips downtown. I remember the first time we went to the city and went on an elevator. I was a teenager. Thanks for the memories.

Ms. Jan said...

What wonderful memories, Nancy. I love having a glimpse of life in the city--just as I've always pictured it. I loved paper dolls, too. Thanks for a great Sunday story!

Su Bee said...

What a wonderful story - thank you for taking us all back in time.

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

Your recollection of the 'times that were' made for a captivating story. I do not remember ever hearing of the 'Take or Send' question, that's really interesting to this country girl. Thanks! I loved paper dolls too!

Angela said...

What a lovely walk down your memory lane. Living in a rural farming community, I cannot imagine riding a train or doing such fancy shopping. No sending here. LOL Just pack and carry.

Bonnie said...

Neat nostalgia, dear sister. I remember making paper dolls out of the models in the Sears catalog; glueing them to cardboard, then designing clothes for them, on the front porch of 6651 Limekiln Pike.