I just bought a load of new clothes recently. As a card-carrying demophobe, it was really nice to sit around in my underwear and buy clothes online. I mean, you can’t beat the convenience, there are no pushy people around, and if I tried that in Downtown Cleveland, well, I’d get arrested or frostbite or both.
Halle’s was not on Public Square, being down by the theaters. That was more of an adventure, because it wasn’t routine, but eating in the Geranium Room (because Mrs. Halle liked Geraniums) was key, as was going to see Mr. Jingeling at Halle’s Seventh Floor Toyland. Anyone can go see Santa, WE went to see Mr. Jingeling, Santa’s locksmith, the Keeper of the Keys. (I was never really sure why Santa needed a locksmith at the North Pole, but I thought he doubled making clockwork mechanisms.)
I remember the window displays, and the smell of roasting nuts from Morrow’s Nut House blowing onto Euclid Avenue. Mostly, though, I remember going to Higbee’s and May’s with my grandmother, up from the Rapid, up the old elevators with the elevator operators in Higbee’s and all the departments, the little booth that sold stamps and coins next to the fabrics and the drug store. The toy shop on the fourth floor. The wooden escalators and the pianos and furniture on the eighth floor.
And the Silver Grille. Where you would go and as a kid get your meal in a little cardboard stove. Where they had the most excellent muffins, Welsh Rabbit, and the pool with the goldfish in the middle of the restaurant. Where you could go to the Twigbee shop, and spend your allowance on kid-priced gifts for your parents and they would WRAP IT FOR YOU so you could surprise your family.
May’s was nice, and had better clothes, but for downtown Christmas shopping, Higbee’s was the place. Then after all was wrapped and bagged, we’d get back on the Rapid, and go home.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy adulthood, and the freedoms that come with it, but I’d like to go Christmas shopping with my Grandmother again, at Higbees.