Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Defunct Department Stores-Chas A. Stevens
Going through the racks at Thrift America today, I came across an interesting, older suit jacket. Taking it off the hanger to examine closer, I noticed the familiar Stevens label that was once sewn in much of my clothing. I adored Stevens, and when they went out of business in the 80's, it was personally devastating. Sure, I liked Marshall Field's, but if I was headed to State Street, it was to shop at Stevens. I couldn't afford much at Field's.
I didn't bother trying the jacket on-for .99 cents it was coming home with me, and if it won't fit, I'll keep it anyway as a reminder of my youth. Some people remember places, and events by what happened, or where they dined, or the company they had-I remember events and places by what I was wearing. In detail. I don't think that is normal, but it is my normal. So it was, I recalled wearing a black, floor length jersey dress that snapped down the front to do a bit of underage drinking at a somewhat exclusive nightclub I had no business being in. Never mind it was all rather dull once we were in as we were expecting a disco, and got a jazz trio instead. And a piano player between sets. And the drinks were expensive. But we got into a club on Rush Street, and I credit my Chas. A. Stevens dress.
I went on my first date in a purple velour dress from Stevens. My first day of grade four I wore a red plaid trouser and waistcoat set with a white, cowl neck sweater from Stevens. I bought my first navy blue, "interview" suit at Stevens when it was time to look for work. I bought a dark green wool coat that my mother hated, and tried to convince me to get rid of...well, you know where it came from. Those four inch pumps with the faux fur sides that I ruined walking through un-cleared snow that fell whilst we were at a party in someone's basement in Andersonville-those came from Stevens as well. So much of my early life came with that Stevens label attached. So much of my teenage life was spent at parties in people's basements (and in warmer weather, garages) on North side of Chicago. But never mind that kids, the point is that standing there in Thrift America, more than 500 miles from Chicago, I found a bit of evidence that the life I remember living really did exist. In this age of, "it didn't happen if it isn't on the Internet", there was something reassuring in that silly little jacket from Stevens.
Don't stare at it too long, you'll get a headache.