This brought back memories of the three “five and dime” stores in my town and one Christmas shopping event. It starts with a punishment. I was a bit clumsy and frequently broke dishes as I washed or dried them, and the ritual punishment was that I replace them from my $0.25/week allowance. I broke four cereal bowls.
Next bit of background. My mother would take me Christmas shopping for all other family members and help, not only with decisions but with paying. No one thought to take me and do the same for her, so I was on my own and her gifts were usually some little thing I had made or something from the five and dime.
That year I thought I had the perfect solution. I was never too good at knowing what she might want or need, but that year I knew she needed four cereal bowls.
So I bought them for $0.25 each, wrapped them and put them under the tree.
Her amused reaction when she opened her present puzzled me.

Lillian's Cupboard

Neisner's (1024x795)At Christmas time, my little sister and I loved to go to Neisner’s 5 and 10 (“the dime store”, we called it), a treasure trove of gifts for children, or adults for that matter, with small coins in their pockets.  We circled around and around the counters, picking up cards with beautiful jeweled earrings or flowered boxes of dusting powder or the ever popular Midnight in Paris perfume in small cobalt blue bottles.  These would be wonderful surprises for Mother, the Grandmas, the aunts – if we pooled our money.  There were small bottles of shaving lotion, glistening emerald green on the counters, which were standard fare for the men in the family.  For small cousins there were jack sets, paddle balls, tiny dolls – such an array!

Now, that 5 and 10 stores are a thing of the past, I remember all those dear people opening our dime store…

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3 responses to “

  1. quilt32

    I love your story. I was also notorious for breaking dishes and it continued well into adulthood. I don’t know what we would have done as kids without the five and dime stores.
    Lillian
    lillianscupboard.wordpress.com

  2. Florence

    Cute story. I can’t believe you remembered how much your allowance was way back then (I sure couldn’t)! And a good girl ending.

    • Not sure why I remember. Or the price of the bowls. There sure are a lot of other details that have slipped away. I also remember I baby sat for $0.35/hour and $0.50/hour after midnight. And my mother tells of paying a babysitter $0.50 for a whole evening based on what she would have gotten as a child. She had to get a neighbor to tell the sitter that she had learned the going rate before the girl would sit again!

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