by Nancy Nelson
As a child growing up in the fifties, I will never forget running from store to store in the cold and the snow while Christmas shopping with my parents on the streets of Charleston. Those were the happiest times of my life. I’ll never forget the restrooms at OJ Morrison’s. You had to pay 5 cents to get in the stall. However, if you were skinny like me, you could crawl under the stall or wait for someone to come out and hold the door open for you. I’ll always remember the mezzanine where you could sit and look over the railing onto the first floor. I remember the row of pay phones on the back wall. They had seats where people could sit and talk on the phone.
At the other end of Capital Street and Washington Street, you had JC Penny on one corner and Montgomery Ward on the other. In my mind there was no hotel as large and elegant as the Daniel Boone, which sat on the corner. I remember my dad coming home from work and talking about eating in their restaurant alongside The Supremes.
What a blast it was going though the revolving doors at One Valley Bank, thinking those were the neatest things ever, and then turning the corner and walking to Stone and Thomas on Lee Street. We would leave there and walk down Hale Street to the Bible Book store. I loved that store, but I must say, my greatest memory is of The Diamond. The outside was covered with clear lights at Christmas. I made sure I visited every floor, from the bargain basement all the way up to the fifth floor cafeteria. However, it had a snack bar on the first floor that was much cheaper.
I could go on and on about my memories of Charleston in the fifties and sixties. The movie theaters, the restaurants, the smaller stores like Lerners, Kresge’s, Henry’s, Frankenbergers, Embees (where I bought my wedding dress in 1969), Silver Brand, McCrory’s, Woolworth’s and others, but that is not the point of this article. The point is: Make memories with your children of the city of Charleston. The streets may be a little different and the stores may have changed, but it is up to you as parents to make memories that will last a lifetime. I will turn 67 this year and those Christmas shopping trips will be etched in my mind forever.