Monday, January 2, 2012


The Cleveland Plain Dealer has invited readers to share things they remember about growing up in the Cleveland area, and some of these memories have been published over the holidays. I kept thinking it would be fun to write something, but realizing I'd left it a bit late, am delighted that my blog doesn't have deadlines.

You will be astonished to hear that I have very fond memories of going shopping (of all things!) for back to school clothes. It was the early sixties, and it was a novel experience for us when our mom drove to the Rapid Transit stop at Van Aiken. We got on the Rapid (somewhat between a train and a streetcar) and rode the swaying car into Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland. Arriving, we entered the dark terminal and made our way onto the city streets. We walked to Higbees where Sara and I tried on dresses and skirts and blouses and shoes and coats.

Our brother, Peter, must have hated those outings. He, too, had to try on school clothes, but for boys it probably wasn't much fun. Wasting a beautiful summer day hanging around stores and trying things on is my attitude toward shopping now, but back then it was just plain fun. It may have something to do with the outstanding service. In that place and time if you inquired about raincoats you would either be escorted to the rainwear department, or someone would bring several for you to try on.

Higbees had a a delightful dining room where we ate chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. To this day I still feel special when I am eating a chicken salad sandwich!

After lunch we would venture over to Halle's, the other big department store in Cleveland. There we would get anything we hadn't been able to find at Higbee's. When we were finished in each department, my mom would ask the clerk to "have it sent". Such luxury! Going shopping without having to haul around your purchases. A few days later the big brown UPS truck would pull up in front of our house where the driver would deliver our school clothes.

By the mid sixties we no longer went on those outings. It was much cheaper and easier to shop locally, but I do have very fond memories of those trips into the city to shop at those wonderful stores, which have now been closed for decades.


Daisy said...

What fun memories! A lot of my back to school "shopping" was done in my sister's closet. She was two and a half years older than me, so I usually ended up with her hand-me-downs that she had outgrown. I did get some new clothes, but I don't remember shopping at big department stores very much. Shopping for us was done more at discount places like G.C. Murphy's. This was fun to read. :)

Mary Jane said...

I too remember going to Higbee's for school shopping, but my mom would look for fabric. At that time they had the best fabrics available. She made all our clothes. I so wanted store bought clothes!
I remember picking up some easy care velvet in a vibrant orange, yellow and brown floral. It sounds awful but was really cool. I made it into a jumper and wore that for years.
I too remember visiting the restaurant, it was a real treat for my mom to let us have lunch there. :)
I also remember the fancy,huge restrooms with attendants!
We always felt so rich going to that store and wandering around looking at everything and riding the clickety-clackety escalaters!

John Kroll said...

Diana (and everyone),

There's no deadline for submitting memories to Cleveland Remembers. While the feature had a short print run over the holidays, it continues almost every weekday online at, and you can submit your stories any time. We'd love to hear from you!

John Kroll
Online Editor
The Plain Dealer

Suzanne said...

Diana I loved hearing about your memories. Shopping and service arent like they used to be. A friend and I just had a discussion the other day about buying something like a doll and the store owner handing it over the counter in a brown bag. We were thinking of all the annoying packaging that comes with toys these days.

Margaret said...

Sounds amazingly like my experience growing up in Baltimore. I too can remember going into the city for school clothes. And the restaurants in the department stores were always a special treat.To this day I carry around my Grandmother's little "Charge-a-plate" in my purse for good luck.