Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lunch At The Five & Dime With My Grandmother

I loved spending time with my Grandmother when I was little.  When we didn't live with her, I would still visit her on weekends or a week here and there.  I loved watching her sew.  When I was really little around 3 and 4 years of age (early 1950s), she would let me sit on the sewing machine extension and watch her.  I loved seeing how fast she could get that needle going and listening to the whining hum of the machine - it always whined higher the faster she would go.  She was a dressmaker by trade and had her own business.  She not only did alterations, but also made clothes for others.  I loved watching her customers trying on their clothes and her pinning and marking the alterations to be made.  She would let me play with scraps of material so that I could make clothes for my dolls.  There was a card table next to her sewing machine for handwork and I had a chair across from her so I could work too.  She always had a radio on - we would work, listen to music and talk.  And, when I got tired of sitting, I could dance in front of the floor length mirror and pretend I was a ballerina.  Every once in a while I would check to see if she was watching me (it would embarrass me if she did) and she was always working on her sewing project not paying any attention to me so my freedom of dancing could continue.  She never called me a princess, but I was definitely her princess just like my oldest granddaughter is to me.

Every Saturday morning, she would go downtown to get her notions, supplies and materials needed for the next week.  If I was staying with her, I would get to go downtown to shop with her.  We got dressed up and would catch the Delaware-Central 19 bus to go downtown.  I loved her holding my hand when we walked up those big steps of the bus and the bus driver smiling at us.  She always bought most of her notions at J.C. Penney's.  This store was located on the Circle in Indianapolis and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument was in the middle.  Here is a picture of it (Photo by Ruth Reichmann) - copied this off the Internet so hopefully, I'm not in too much trouble. 

It was  really tall and there were cascading water falls on two sides of it.  It was so beautiful.  The fabric department at J.C. Penney was on the second floor.  It was so much fun touching all of the fabrics and feeling the different textures - velvet, corduroy, flannel, satin, silk and organza.  I think my favorite fabric was polished cotton - it was so shiny and smooth.  I know, sounds weird, but I was a child.  And, yes, I still have to touch everything when I go shopping for clothes or material.  Now, if we were going to more than one store, it was hard keeping up with her - she walked fast.  And, there was no such thing as a mall.  We had to walk out in the weather, cross busy streets and it was noisy and so many people.  But it was all worth it because we always got to eat lunch at the five and dime.  We had a choice of Woolworth's, Kresge's or the G.C. Murphy dime store.  Sometimes she would let me choose.  Usually, we had to wait a few minutes so we could get two seats to open up together.  I loved watching all the people while we waited and the anticipation of a waitress asking me what I wanted to eat made me feel so special.  

After we ate, we would have to walk back to the Circle to the bus stop and catch the bus back home.  Did I tell you that my Grandmother was a fast walker?  My legs were always hurting by this time and I couldn't wait to get on the bus and sit down in those big seats.  But, once we arrived home and she was putting away her threads, zippers and seam binding, I was looking forward to going shopping with my Grandmother again and eating lunch at the five and dime.           

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the memories. Sounds so much like going to downtown San Antonio in the 1950's on the bus and walking from one end of Houston St. to the other. Almost every 5 and dime had a lunch counter and Kress even had a cafeteria in the basement. My aunt sometimes took us there and Mama said our eyes were bigger than our stomachs when we saw all the beautiful choices of food cafeteria style.
    You were truly blessed to spend time with your grandmother.