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West Hartford’s ‘Monday Memory’

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Test your knowledge of West Hartford history with this ‘Monday Memory,’ courtesy of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society.

By Ronni Newton

It’s time to take a look back into West Hartford’s past to either stir up some memories, reflect on how much things have changed, or both. And if you have no idea, we love the photo captions, too!

My apologies that last week’s Memorial Day holiday threw off [my] entire schedule and interfered with the regularly-scheduled “Throwback Thursday” feature. We’re substituting a “Monday Memory” in its place, and it’s really a bonus for this week because in just a few days there will also be a “Throwback Thursday.”

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

The posted image from Thursday, May 26 (at right and in larger size below) certainly generated an outflow of memories – especially on Facebook. We can’t publish every one because there are just too many, but here are some highlights!

Liz Gillete: “Bishop’s Corner. Built in the mid-late fifties. This was one of the first New York stores to open a satellite location. (Very pre-mall!) My mother told me how her friend, who was one of the first buyers, had said that they filled the store with beautiful, lovely women’s suits, silk blouses, cashmere sweaters, cocktail dresses etc for the West Hartford Women. Within a year they changed the mix a little, it seemed the matrons of West Hartford were all wearing very expensive, lacy and delicate underwear under their suburban togs and that their negligees were definitely NOT of the flannel variety. Who would have thought?”

Russ Oasis: “Definitely Bishop’s Corner. I’d say this picture is circa 1960. Lord & Taylor was next to SS Pierce and Woolworth in the same shopping plaza. Later on, there was a Lafayette Electronics store at the end of the mall. Downstairs there was a barber and some other smaller businesses. Directly across North Main St. was a First National supermarket and then later a Friendly’s an S&H Greenstamps redemption center, as well as a liquor store. Moving to the lot just north of First National, in the 1950’s there was a little grazing field where sheep would roam. That’s one of my oldest memories of the area.”

Andrew White: “Looking at the Lord and Taylor store from the corner where Noodles and Company is now. Design and look of the store was almost the same as the one in Bala Cynwyd, PA outside of Philly. Store closed in 1982 I think. Recall buying my off to college supplies there as they were closing down. It was then a Caldor. Then Another food markets Ames? Before it closed and then they tore down the regularly unused parking garage in the back lot.”

Andi Jacobs Clark: “Lord & Taylor. My mom worked in the office and I got a job during the summers at the scarf and needlepoint counter. Mr. Katz, a math teacher from KP Jr High worked a second job in the shoe dept.”

Evelina Kahn: “My parents’ store, The Music Shop, was kitty-corner across the intersection. I loved to go there and look at everything. We looked more thane shopped, but a few times, we went and had little sandwiches at The Bird Cage Restaurant. Good times.”

Lisa Petersen: “Mom did all my back to school shopping at this Lord and Taylor’s. I vividly remember taking the large escalator downstairs to where the kids things were. My aunt used to take me to ‘The Birdcage’ (restaurant in the back left of the store) as a treat. This was in mid/late 1960s. As I remember it, the store closed here when it moved to Westfarms mall. Since then it’s been Caldor (they used both floors), Marshalls (top floor), a grocery and Walmart grocery in the lower level. In the 60s/70s the other stores included SS Pierce (specialty foods), Peck & Peck and Casual Corner (women’s clothing), The Lodge (the place for jeans in the 1970s), Harvey and Lewis (still there).”

Char Larsen: “The curved seating in the Bird Cage … so unusual for the times. Allowed to pick 2 dresses for the school year, which was a big deal. Shopping was followed by lunch at the Cage. The day was a big treat in the 60’s.”

Many others also remembered eating at the Bird Cage, as well as special occasions like visiting Santa Claus.

Others remembered things they bought at Lord & Taylor …

“First pair of hip huggers,” commented Nancy Taylor.

“L&T had the BEST alteration department. You could go in, buy from their ‘special’ collection, and have it altered to fit you like a glove – for free! I still remember the black dress I purchased for a date in Montreal … those were the days,” wrote Barbara Belmont.

“Elegance and beautiful dresses. My Dad once bought my sister and I matching dresses that were simply beautiful and such a treat!” commented Louise Albin.

“We drove an hour from our home to the store to buy me an 8th grade white graduation dress,” wrote Lisa Lenkiewicz.

Or people they saw …

“I recall seeing Ella Grasso there, methodically working her way through the clearance racks,” wrote Carole Goldberg.

“I remember having models weave through the tables while we lunched there,” commented Mary Beth Shimkus Murphy.

“I remember they would have fashion shows in the children’s department – somehow local kids would be in them. I remember participating a couple of times. Don’t know why?? Birdcage was the best for lunch w mom and grandma. Bishops was better w LT!” wrote Liz Murphree Kerrigan.

And the way you paid for your purchase:

Mia Finn: “I remember when you paid with cash, there were no cash registers. The money and hand written sales slip were put in a tube (like at the bank) and your receipt and change came back in the tube. As a kid, it was fascinating!”

“I remember that the sales associates worked out of a gift box as a cash register. No POS systems there,” wrote Beth Bolton.

Some readers worked at Lord & Taylor in Bishops Corner …

“I worked there in 1955 for a few months in the summer and spent more on clothes than my paycheck amount!” commented Blanche Ducharme Deasy.

“I worked there in high school and we weren’t allowed to bring purses to our stations. They would give us clear plastic makeup bags to put our personal items in. To make sure employees didn’t steal anything! Loved my boss Mrs Madigan. Worked with her son at Aetna many years later,” wrote Lisa Curran.

For the official record, Lord & Taylor opened in Bishops Corner in August 1954. Although Westfarms opened in 1974, Lord & Taylor did not move from Bishops Corner right away, as some readers pointed out. That move happened in the early 1980s, and the Lord & Taylor spot became Caldor and is now Marshall’s. The image was taken in the mid-1960s.

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

We will bring back an image on Thursday that is sure to trigger some first hand memories, but for Monday Memory here’s one (at right and in larger size below) that seems to be from farther back in West Hartford’s history.

Who knows what this is?

Where is/was it located?

What year was the photo taken?

Thank you to the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society for providing us with the images. They are always looking for new images to add to the collection. Visit their website at www.noahwebsterhouse.org for more information about membership and programs.

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Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Lord & Taylor, mid 1960s. Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

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