Downtown shopping trip seemed magical through eyes of a child

  • Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When I was growing up, the Easter Bunny was not in fierce competition with Santa over who could bring the most gifts. My Easter Bunny left one half eaten carrot, a few dyed eggs and mostly black jellybeans. All of these goodies were placed in last year’s basket. Because I didn’t know any better I was delighted.

Our church always had an Easter egg hunt and usually some group would sponsor a hunt in the park. Try as hard as I could I never found the golden egg. People in front of me, people behind me, people on the left or right of me would find it, but sadly fate was not on my side. I always thought it was strange that the kid, whose mother was in charge of the church hunt, always knew exactly which tombstone to look behind and surprise, surprise, there was a special egg. Hmmmmmmm!

My mother and my nana were gifted seamstresses and for Easter, I always had a new itchy, dotted Swiss dress, with smocking across the front. Mother loved to smock, thus everything of mine sported her handiwork. And I mean everything, seen and unseen to the naked eye.

For a child I paid dearly for the bounty of Easter clothes. We would make a trip to Charleston and leave the car in the parking lot behind the Woolworth ten-cent store. Mother would promise me, that on the way back to the car we would walk slowly through this magical kingdom of a store, but we had places to go and other things to see first.

We crossed the street to Kerrison’s Department Store. The most elegant store in Charleston, they had a perfume counter filled with crystal bottles, that sparkled with all the colors of the rainbow. The lady behind the counter would graciously spray a fragrance on your wrist. I had to be careful with how many times I was misted, because mother would threaten to make me ride on the roof of the car going home, if all those smells didn’t calm down.

My mother and my sister loved shoes. Heaven to them was to have eight shoeboxes surrounding them and the poor Kerrison salesperson, bringing out more. I figured they had some kind of Cinderella complex and searched all of their lives for the elusive glass slipper. For me, all I needed was a pair of black shoes, a pair of white shoes and, of course, a pair of bunny slippers.

We left Kerrison’s and started the walk of doom to Belk. At that time Belk sold only fabrics and had long tables filled with pattern books. Mother and Nana felt it impolite if they didn’t look at every page of every book. Then, of course, came choosing the fabric. Would it last forever? Goodness only knows, we didn’t want it unless Brenda was still wearing the outfit in college. Belk had one saving grace, the most wonderful contraption I had ever seen. The money was placed in a cylinder and then sent up and up and up to the ceiling where it shot across to the office on the second floor. The most fun was when two or three cylinders were sent from different stations at the same time.

Finally it was my time to do what I wanted. A slow walk through Woolworth’s. Oh, the wonders I would see and dream about for weeks. I was allowed to buy a book of paper dolls and mother bought a bag of candy, for us to enjoy on the ride home.

All in all it was a very good day. And, who needs a golden egg or even glass slippers, when you have a brand new pack of paper dolls and a Woolworth’s bag of chocolate candy?

Brenda Loyd Allred grew up in Summerville when it was a very small town. She now lives at Franke at Seaside with her husband Les.

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