When my sisters and I were kids, Dad and Mom sometimes planned a full day of shopping in Craig. While our parents shopped for ranch supplies and other things needed to keep the household going, we made small purchases and enjoyed looking around in the stores.
We particularly enjoyed watching the clerk cut fabric at the JC Penney Store. It was just down the street from one of the variety stores, probably our first stop when we got to town. Mom went to JC Penney to shop for fabric and other sewing supplies — important purchases because she sewed all of our clothes, made quilts, curtains and lots of other things.
Mom’s first stop in the store was at the basket of fabric remnants. These were small pieces of cloth that came off the ends of fabric bolts. These pieces of fabric were rolled up, and each one was secured with a piece of tape or paper. The prices for the remnants were reduced, thus their appeal, and Mom used them for all sorts of projects. Once in a while there was enough fabric to make an apron or blouse.
Mom bought yards of fabrics from the bolts, too. We girls, particularly Charlotte, enjoyed watching the clerk cut the yardage.
There was a measuring device on the counter that had a circle at the top with yardage numbers marked on it and a gauge that moved to let the clerk know when she had measured the desired amount of fabric. Once Mom decided on the fabric she wanted, the clerk removed the straight pins that secured the fabric to the end of the bolt and rolled out a little bit of the material.
Then she put the end of the fabric into a slit below the circle in the measuring device. She slid the fabric through the slit until she got the number of yards Mom wanted. Next, the clerk pushed a little lever that made the first cut in the fabric. She removed the fabric from the measuring device and either tore or cut the fabric from the bolt.
The clerk figured the cost of the fabric and recorded it on an order pad. She added all of the other purchases, took Mom’s money and put it in a tube (or cylinder) similar to one a person uses at the drive-thru at a bank. The tube was sent upstairs where change was made, and then it came back downstairs with a thunking sound.
When we girls got home, we played (pretended) that we were clerks in a store, measuring out fabric and sending money upstairs in a pretend tube (glass jar). Charlotte always wanted to work in a fabric store, selling fabric and hanging up sewing notions.
I think the Golden Rule Store had fabric, too, but I can’t remember for sure. I do remember the store’s wooden floors and the sound they made when we walked on them. Believe it or not, the store had a sort of X-ray machine that shoe customers could use to tell how their feet fit into the shoes.
Dad never missed lunch — ever — so at noon he looked us up and we went to a restaurant downtown, perhaps the Midwest Café. Dad’s favorite meal was a roast beef sandwich. I think we kids had hamburgers. Lunch was topped off with a scoop of ice cream or pie.
Sometime during the shopping day, we probably visited at least one drug store. It’s where we got our prescriptions filled, and Dad possibly purchased rubbing alcohol and maybe vaccine syringes for branding day. The drug stores in Craig were appealing because of the soda fountains where customers could sit up at the counters and order cold drinks, sodas and sundaes.
From about age 8, I was crazy about movie stars, so I enjoyed studying the magazine racks at the drug stores where I purchased a movie magazine like “Photoplay.” We also bought comic books about Donald Duck, Archie, Jughead, Veronica and other characters for 10 cents each!
Our shopping trip ended with a stop at the grocery store.
We went back home with lots of ideas for pretend play and small purchases that we enjoyed until we had another shopping day.
Copyright Diane Prather, 2013