It is the season for many things, but one trait always adds its warmth — and that’s nostalgia.
Every year we see pictures of the lighting of Santa and his reindeer — and we remember, those of us old enough to treasure memories of going downtown to see Wolf & Dessauer’s windows and the wreath and Santa traveling up Washington Boulevard. And now families are committing to the trip downtown to make memories for another generation — some in arms, some standing patiently by.
Dec. 7 has come and gone. For many of us it is a somber day: We remember the shock of having our radio program interrupted by the news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, an act that changed our lives completely. Life was never the same after that. And with the holidays approaching, we remember family members no longer with us, and we recount family trivia with nostalgia and love.
Debi Hall is old enough to recall with great love that her mother took her down to see the windows at W & D. Sometimes they went up to the sixth floor to the tea room. She remembers one Saturday when they got all dressed up and went to a kind of party for mothers and daughters at the tea room.
“Manners meant something,” she wrote, “and we were little ladies.”
Her memories are not all about Christmas. Sometimes on Saturdays she and her mom would ride the bus downtown, and her mother would have her hair shampooed and styled at the beauty salon and then they’d go to Stillman’s.
Ah, Debi, I am old enough to remember that once upon a time before it became Stillman’s it was the Grand Leader. What she remembers most are the elevators, “really neat with a gate that closed and the operator would take you to the next floor. Lots of fun.”
And she can’t forget Murphy’s at the corner of Wayne and Calhoun, which she thought was the best place to buy hot peanuts. She remembers, too, when she was a bit older, getting in the car and going back and forth to the north Azar’s and the south Azar’s “to check out the guys and their hot rods. Of course, also, there was Foster Park; that’s when you could drive all the way around it. And I can’t forget the drive-in — a lot of fun. East 30 is the one I went to.”
She “kinda remembers the old Jack and Jill amusement park rides.” They didn’t last long, but then, she writes, Southgate had rides when they came to town, and out near Bishop Luers there was a pizza place called Laurel and Hardy’s. And Debi concluded her letter by (I can hear her sigh, too) writing, “The good old days are gone.”
True. But we are making new “good old days” like the lights at Aunt Millie’s being added to the downtown festivities. And we are comfortable looking around. We are blessed in Fort Wayne with many treasures; this is a great opportunity to take time to appreciate them.
My son called a short while ago asking if after our celebratory brunch tomorrow, I would be willing to go with him to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. An artist whose work he enjoys is having an exhibit there of some of her work. I would be delighted to go! That is just one of the places we are fortunate to have.
Slow down a bit.
Enjoy the season. And by the way, Trish Birkenbeul would like included on the list of books that make excellent gifts Kati Marton’s very readable “Paris, A Love Story.” Her note arrived too late for inclusion in the book column, but her very good suggestion is included here.
After all, this is a season for giving, isn’t it?