I love the convenience of shopping online ~ the anytime-anywhere-never-a-wait-oh-so-easy-shipping experience.

But I miss brick-and-mortar. Maybe that’s why I’m such an Apple fan.

Now there’s a juggernaut of a retail experience, lots of touch and feel and instant gratification. And that mind-blowing sense of excitement in the store.  E-commerce in the cloud? Not so much.  *Note to Amazon: Maybe it’s time to start thinking inside the box.

When I was a kid, Mom and I went to G. Fox & Co., a huge department store, in Hartford, Ct.

It was A. Very. Big. Deal.  We’d ride the elevator to almost every floor.


The captain sent you to an available car and the operators announced the floors.  Fifth Floor: Fur Salon, Millinery and Maternity…...Tenth Floor: Trim The Home Shop, Knitting and Needlework.  All in a snappy patter.


Second FloorCareer Shops, Connecticut Room, Bakery. Lunch in the circular Connecticut Room involved proper manners, hats and white gloves.  I always ordered the chicken pot pie, Mom had a date nut bread sandwich. While we ate, glamourous models circled the dining room.  If I was lucky, I took home mocha-and-pink frosted cupcakes from the bakery.

Portrait of Beatrice Fox Auerbach

Beatrice Fox Auerbach was president of G. Fox & Company at a time when few women were in retail management positions.  She knew what she was doing. You could Try and Buy Anything ~ notions, books and bedspreads, custom-made chignons, monogrammed linens, silver services for 8 in wooden velvet-lined boxes, draperies and drugs, gowns and leather goods, shoes and storm windows, Foxco Witch Hazel and foundation garments.

Sixth Floor: Young Connecticut.  Blackwatch plaid shirtwaist dresses with Peter Pan collars.  Pure honey.

But it was the Eleventh Floor ~ Toys, Pets, Hobbies ~ that holds the richest memories.

The toy department was stocked with the latest playthings ~ and the doll of my dreams, Saucy Walker. It was the noisiest and busiest floor during the holidays.  Centennial Hall was an enchanting Santa Land with surreal decorations and an unspeakably majestic replica of Cinderella’s coach. Zillions of kids had Santa’s ear.  So did I.

(Try doing this in the cloud.)

Toni and Santa

It’s 2012.  Everything is possible. Even keeping tabs on the man in the suit who knows when you are sleeping and if you’ve been bad or good.  Track him here….


BTW, Santa, this year my list isn’t on 13 pages in a blue-lined composition book with notes in the left hand margin.  It’s an app.   https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-christmas-list/id340779800?mt=8

Toni 12/13/12


  1. This is wonderful. I remember stores similar to this but on a much smaller scale. I do remember shopping with my Mom and the elevator man taking us to the right floors. It was a day out. It was fun. It was memories being made with my Mom. I even have one of those black and white photos on Santa’s knee.
    It is nothing like the shopping experiences of today. Fighting your way through traffic, crowds and merchandise. The kids are often left at home so you can move more freely.


    1. Michelle, I don’t recall much about my Santa moment. I’m wearing a fur-trimmed G. Fox & Co. ensemble with a raveling grey scarf knit by my Auntie Mary. And, of course, plastic bells with bent leaves on my lapel. As I look at Kid 3H36257, I hear Natalie Goldberg’s voice reminding me that a scene comes alive when details merge with feeling. I think she called it The True Moment. I need to think harder. Even a visit with Santa has more going on than a long wait in line for a photo op. I’d love to see your black-and-white. 🙂 Write about it for me, will you?


      1. Toni, I don’t have a lot of memory of Santa either. It’s just that there are so few pics of me as a child that it fascinates me when I see one. Who was this child that became me?
        I will try and include the pic in my next blog.
        Talk soon,


      2. Toni, I dug up the picture and it turns out it isn’t black and white. It is in my latest post just for you. Wait until you get a load of Santa’s makeup! 😉


  2. Toni, I also have such a b&w pic of me with Santa. And now I learn Michelle does too! Not really any memory of Santa, just that stylish, wool-itchy-and-hot winter outer wear. Coat, hat, leggings, all matching of course with a touch of velvet. I bring the pic out seasonally as a decoration and piece of memorabilia.


    1. Do share! I’ll send you a link to Michelle’s blog post, she promises to write about it and share her picture. There are lots of us out there with vintage Santa pics, not just Instrgram ones 🙂
      Come on, readers, you know you want to share. Leave a link to your flash from the past.


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