Now that Lazarus no longer exists-I have to admit that I miss being able to see the seasonal window display. When I was a child-this was a must do at Christmas time.
Every year Lazarus would have a fantasy display in their store window. Animated characters, trains, gingerbread houses, the full tilt Christmas themes that children of my generation firmly believed in.
Going to see the window display was an important moment in my life. Whenever we went downtown to do this-I knew we would visit Santa that day and that Christmas was on the way!
I think about the way we present ourselves during the late fifties and early sixties. This was a fashion event. I grew up in the era where grown women still wore hats and gloves out in public. We always dressed up to go shopping downtown. Just getting prepared was a major event.
We were a generation that wore undershirts, slips and tights with dresses for almost all special occasions. Going downtown meant that we had to look our best. I had my hair freshly pressed with a hot comb, braided neatly with ribbons to match my outfit. We always had a picture taken during our visit with Santa.
We also wore wool coats with matching leggings. Which was the style of that era. Plus a hat, gloves and possibly a muff to help keep your hands warm.
One of the most annoying articles of clothing that we wore back then were red rubber galoshes. They were hard to put on and hard to take off. A lot of time was spent working those devlish boots over my shoes. The shoe of that era was the infamous Buster Brown Saddle Shoe. Like the ones you see in the teen movies of the fifties. I always managed to talk my way into a brown and beige pair. Which I like a lot better than the traditional black and white pair. They were thick soled and literally impossible to wear out. They were a tough pair of kicks!
Back then, dowtown was full of retail merchants. There were three major department stores on one block. Lazarus, Morehouse Fashion and The Union. Plus a variety of stores that sold different merchandise. At one time there was a Sears and Roebuck located in downtown too.
I remember being hyped on the day when we were going to spend the day at Lazarus! If daddy was in town we would ride in his Oldsmobile to the store. If he was on the road working, then we would catch the trolley bus into downtown. I never cared how we got there-as long as we made the trip.
There would be huge crowds outside the store. Children and adults would be looking at the display, talking about the different characters while freezing in the cold. There was a ramp that allowed you to walk along side of the window. You could see everything close up. Every child wanted to walk up that ramp for a better view.
We would spend time outside of the store until my nose started to run and my cheeks turned scarlet from the cold air. Then it was time to step inside of the doors and let the whoosh for warm air from the floor warm us. That sudden gust of warm air was always welcomed relief on a cold day.
The next stop was on the sixth floor to see Santa!