Dear Louise: I swear this is true: I was reading the Christian Science Monitor and ran across the book articles. First thing in my mind was "I should send this to Louise".
Then I got the mail, and saw your clippings about department store display. This brings back a lot of memories. In comparison to today's store display, We've gone down hill. I know that there are fabulous scenes are in the stores in New York, but in Connecticut...hmmm...have to go to the malls and then I see marketing, not art.
I remember getting on the bus with my mother. There was a connection from the trolley that ran to a wire overhead. Electricity was supplied by that overhead connection. In the winter, with everything wet, the wire would crackle. The trolley ran on rails embedded in the road. Inside the trolley, there was straw on the floor. I think the purpose of the straw was to absorb the water from our boots and also to insulate the floor. I remember having very cold feet, sitting on the trolley. I remember that the trolley was very crowded.
At last We were downtown. There were department stores everywhere. The crowd was exciting. The activity was exciting. Christmas music played through loud speakers. Some stores squirted perfume into the air. One of the best experiences, was seeing the windows decorated for Christmas. There were automaton dolls dressed as Santa's helpers. A train ran around the scene. Everything moved! It was wonderful. I got to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas. I distinctly remembered that I didn't know what I wanted, so I made up something.
There was a florist shop that put the same display on every year. It was a Santa flying out the window. (half was inside and half was outside attached to the glass). Men sold Christmas trees in the vacant lots, remember? The fragrance of pine and balsam filled my nose. What a wonderful memory.
It was cold in Buffalo in December. We were dressed for the weather in wool snow pants, coat and matching hat, scarf and mittens. The mittens had a string that ran from one mitten to the other, so when you took off your mittens, they dangled and did not get lost. We wore Wellington boots over our shoes. Shoe boots hadn't been invented yet. If you didn't wear your snow pants, you got a red welt on the back of your calves where the top of your boot rubbed on your leg. Remember what the coat room in school smelled like when all the kids took off their snow clothes? The smell of wet wool....very distinctive.
Well, I am off the topic of window display. My college offered an art course in window display. I think they called it by a different name, but that was what it was. One display that stands out in my mind, was made entirely of white card stock. The artist cut and bent it so it stood on its own. It was a fashion scene of ladies in dresses...all made out of card stock. I remember the faces. How did they cut the stock so that the noses stood out? What a wonder.
Every window was decorated all year round. Remember the corner store down the block? They subscribed to a window decorating service. They changed their window display about four times a year. The display was made from colored corrugated cardboard. It was set up as fans, cylinders, back drop, etc.....all made of cardboard. The store manager displayed groceries in the window with the cardboard..like a display of mustard or laundry soap. Just about the time the cardboard is fading from the sun, a new display is put up. Perhaps the color scheme was changed with the season...red and green in the winter, fall colors in the fall. That is my guess. If you look around, you can see the reminents of this type of display still up in some windows. Now a days, posters selling merchandise is in the window, but it isn't the same thing as a designed store display.
Another display was in the windows of the houses . Dad would drive us around to look at the Christmas lights. People put their Christmas tree directly in the front window so the lights would shine outside. Some people would put an electric candle in every window. We would drive around, looking at the lights of our neighbors. In my dreams, I can still see the lights against the background of night.
I hope you get to Lancaster to see the restored displays. Thank you so much for sending the article to me.
Enclosed is the book article I thought you might like, and another article on the Great Lakes.
The Christian Science Monitor next year will go to an all electronic paper. This means that I can't cut out an article to send to you unless I print it out first. Note that sometimes the articles are short videos. Those, I can't send through the mail. I will miss not having my paper copy. I like to read it in the morning with a cup of coffee at the local diner. Some times, I leave the paper for others to read. Won't be doing that in the new year. I understand that newspapers are in trouble and there may come a day when there won't be any news stands. I hope I am gone by then.
OK, Buffalo Gal, it is time to close.
Sending you love and laughter and lots of good stuff your way. Gardenbug.
Labels: Letter to Louise