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Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Ever Changing Face Of Downtown Chicago

My mother used to go all 'old school' and recall about growing up in Chicago during the '50's and 60's'. The eldest of eight children wouldn't dare meet her mother downtown for a trip to Marshall Fields or Carsons without being dressed in a dress, white socks, white gloves, coat and matching hat. That's the way they did it back then. All of 'mamma's ' children always had the best quality clothes and were something to behold and admire. That standard carried through into everything they did. As a result all eight attained advanced degrees in their chosen fields. Quite a feat back then ,and even in this day and age. It wasn't that they were rich, but my grandparents worked hard and were go getters. They instilled this quality in their children. The standard was high. Like the high standards of retail in another era....
Yesterday I received a disturbing call. While trying to reconcile ,on a business front ,the merging of historic Marshall Fields into Macy's, another piece of big news hit. Carsons State Street was closing its doors. Now Carsons and Fields ran head to head . Both offered superb quality , service, and wares. Both were in landmark buildings that held so many stories. Christmas at Fields in to see the 'Tree' in the Walnut Room attracted people from all over. Both Carsons and Fields went all out for the window displays. I could go on. Macy's is committed to keep the Fields traditions alive. Chicago can wait and see. Carsons however, in my opinion lost its original luster a long time ago. After so many takeovers,I suppose that's bound to happen. But it had its loyal customer ,and will continue to in its many locations. The Carsons State street store was huge,and operating costs were cited as the a main reason for its closing. Its the end of a era. I remember the last time I saw my grandmother alive she took me, along with Auntie Mame to assist, on a shopping spree to Carsons, Fields, and Neiman Marcus for my high school graduation present. We endlessly tried on the high quality pieces for me take off to Paris where I was to attend college. When we got home she made me model them again to make sure they were just right and show off her oldest grandchild. I treasured my Dior wool pleated skirt and wore it for years until I couldn't no more. Like Mommy,I'm thankful for my downtown memories.

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