Eaton Store in the 1950s (not at Christmas, though)
Postcards from the Past, PC 1282
Calgary is my home town. My parents came here in the 50s because my dad had landed a job with Pacific Petroleums. Having grown up and gone to school here, I find myself in an interesting position, working with the history of the city because, apparently, the time of my childhood is now a historical era! In that spirit, I often find myself combing our Local History collection to verify my memories. Now seemed like a good time to go on a hunt since the Christmas season is upon us and is much on my mind.
We had a few family rituals at Christmas. One was the Pacific Petroleums’ children’s Christmas party. In those days, the company was fairly small and two annual events were planned for the kids of employees: in the summer, the company picnic, often at Bowness Park, and, in the winter, the Christmas party. There was a Christmas party for the adults, too, and I remember my mother’s collection of blue Christmas plates from Birks that were the annual gifts to the wives.
I also remember the trip to Eaton’s to see Santa. I never sat on Santa’s knee, I was far too timid to do that, but I did look at him. My brother was braver and was easily convinced to climb on the strange man’s lap. We would also visit Toyland to see what kinds of things we would like for Christmas (everything) and we took a look at the beautiful window displays. We had one of the moving vignettes here at the Central Library for a while. A group of dancing bears done up in Victorian nightwear spun and twirled here for a few years after Eaton’s closed its doors.
I had two favourite things that I just had to do when I was at Eaton’s. Since my Nan worked there, I used to “do lunch” with her in the cafeteria and I always finished with a bowl of square jello. That was de rigueur for a visit to Eaton’s. And my most favourite thing? It had to be the tunnel that led from the parkade to the store. We got to take the elevator, with its funny round buttons and then roar down the underground passage, so cool, making echoes all along the way (but only if we were alone, my mom said.) That was the very best part of the whole trip. We would start before we got our coats on asking, “can we go through the tunnel, can we?” Probably drove everyone nuts, but at least I wasn’t begging for toys.
Do you have Christmas memories you’d like to share? Post a comment to this blog to tell me about your favourite Christmas things and places. And to you all, Happy Holidays from all of us here on the 4th Floor of the Central Library.