Where did you spend your Saturdays growing up? Watching cartoons, playing outside, doing chores in the house or yard? I did all of those things on a regular basis, especially in the summer when we really had to work outside. There were, however, those very special Saturdays when my Aunt Lora took me to town for part or all of the day. She was unmarried, lived at home and I was the first grandchild in the family. Need I say more?
The best part of downtown for me was Loveman’s Department Store. I thought of it then as a fairytale place and still do today. I know we always remember things as being bigger and better than they were, but I think my memories are pretty accurate on this one.
I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is the white marble or tile floor as you came into the store. This is where the ladies accessories, (purses, gloves, scarves, etc.) were. So many beautiful things in every color. Also, the cosmetics and men’s furnishings were on the First Floor. In the Southwest corner on this floor was a very special counter. The candy. They had the most delicious candy; divinity, fudge and chocolate covered everything you ever tasted. I’m sure my hips are still wearing some of these delights.
There were steps up to the Mezzanine or you could take the elevator, complete with an operator. This was the location of the cafeteria and the beauty shop. I remember the escalator ride up to the other floors. It was always a thrill of anticipation waiting to get to the top and see what had changed since you had been there last. The second floor had ladies shoes and the fur salon. When I started work out of high school, I walked to Loveman’s one day and, for the first time, bought a pair of shoes with my own money. They were patent leather heels in red and white. Oh, how I loved those shoes. On the floor with the ladies clothes were sales ladies ready and waiting to help you with your selections and in the fitting room. Some of them had their own, special customers and didn’t want anyone else to wait on them. You never had to look for assistance – they were always there.
As everyone who grew up here knows, Christmas was the most glorious time downtown and Loveman’s won the grand prize. All of the windows on the first floor had animated figures in different scenes. They were beautifully done and I never wanted to leave them, except to see Santa Claus on the toy floor. That was a wonderland also. Santa was always at Loveman’s. I remember when Roebuck Shopping Center was built and had “Santa’s helper” at Christmas. I knew it had to be Santa’s helper because everyone knew Santa was at Loveman’s.
Of course, my mind can in no way name the contents of all the floors. Each of you may remember things very differently. They had everything you could possible want and we usually brought more than our share home with us. I was very blessed to have an unmarried aunt with a good job. My parents could never have given me these things or the other experiences she and I shared.
Sometimes we ate in the store, but we really liked to go to Britling’s a couple of blocks away. We would carry all the packages unless we had gotten a parking place where we could leave them in the car. Britling’s was a very interesting, fun place also. I seem to remember it being white and there was a chrome railing around the line. It was always crowded with shoppers and kind of loud. I really had a thing for potatoes – all kinds of potatoes. Aunt Lora would buy very little for herself because she knew she would end up eating what I left – mashed potatoes, French fries, etc. and some kind of meat and dessert.
On really special Saturdays, we would then go to the Alabama Theatre for a movie. What a wonderful place it was and still is today. I am so thankful that it has been saved for all of us who love it so and have so many fond memories. So many gold colored lights outside and the beautiful, brass edged doors – red velvet everywhere and white tile in the Ladies' Lounge. We always sat in the left wing of the balcony. It was fun to sit by the rail and look over at the people on the first floor. I loved to look at the private boxes with curtains and imagine kings, queens or presidents in them.
Sometimes we would go there first thing in the morning to see the Mickey Mouse Club. There would be cartoons, Zorro movies and, occasionally, Cousin Cliff. I can’t leave here without mentioning that magnificent Wurlitzer organ. How blessed we are to still have it.
August 29, 2002
5 years ago