I spent most of my formative years in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. Most of my Christmas memories are typical of your average baby boomer, I would imagine--but there are one or two that stand out.
A big part of Christmas in 1960s Cincinnati centered around the newly-built shopping center, the Tri-County Shopping Center. Malls, themselves, were only beginning to get rolling back then, and coming from a small farming community, "The Mall", as we called it, was a big deal. I saw my first twinkle lights ever at the Tri-County Shopping Center, and every year it was a magical site at which I marveled--thousands upon thousands of tiny white lights highlighting the branches of every tree in the (to me) vast parking lot. On clear December nights, it was possible to see the glow of those Christmas lights and accompanying holiday spotlights from our house by craning my neck out one of the upstairs bedroom windows.
In those days the premiere stores weren't Dillard's or Macy's, but Shillito's, McAlpin's, and Pogue's. Kids like myself did most of our Christmas shopping at the lower-end merchants like Kresges, but one year, when I was about 9 or 10, something very special took place: Pogue's opened its doors an hour early one Saturday in December and only children were allowed in to shop!
It was billed as Dawn Morning at Pogue's and I was so excited when I saw it advertised in the newspaper that I badgered my mother until she agreed to take me and drop me off there for the novel event. I think it was for kids 12 and under.
What excitement when the day arrived! A small horde of kids waited outside on the clear morning for the doors to be unlocked. In the unhindered manner of children, I made an instant friendship with a girl I'd never seen before who was a year or so older than myself, and we agreed to spend our shopping adventure together.
I suppose we all felt a little shy and awkward when we first entered, but the Pogue's staff was so helpful and friendly that we were quickly put at ease. My new friend found a record album she wanted to buy for her older sister, but didn't have quite enough money to pay for it. I remember one of the salesclerks taking us upstairs to the office where the manager promptly marked down the price so my new pal could purchase it. That small act of kindness has stayed with me through the years. I found a ceramic teddy-bear shaped bank which I bought for my little sister. I may have gotten my mom or brother something as well, but I've since forgotten it if I did. What I haven't forgotten was the easy camaraderie and feeling of freedom to be running through a major department store with no aloof, disinterested clerks or scolding parents or dismal long wait for some sibling to disappear into a fitting room to try on clothes. One short, one very short hour, and a girl whose face I can only dimly see in my mind's eye, but whom I've never forgotten. What a special day that was.
|A bear bank similar to the one I bought for my sister. The one I chose was blue.|