It amazes me sometimes to think about the things we take for granted in today’s world. We talk, text or email people around the world from a little device we carry in our pockets. We scroll through hundreds of channels looking for a show to watch on television. Or to DVR so we can watch it later.
But it wasn’t always so. . . .
Think about walking into Dillard’s or Macy’s or any mall and having no option but a stairway to get to the second or third floor. Sounds pretty far-fetched nowadays, huh?
When I was a kid in the late 1940s and early 1950s, that was standard. Well, not the mall part. We didn’t have such things at all.
If you wanted to go shopping at a department store, you went downtown. In Fort Worth, it was Meacham’s or Monnig’s or Stripling’s or Leonard’s. In Dallas, it was Sanger-Harris or Titche-Goettinger. Downtown.
All of these stores had elevators if you wanted to take the time to find them, but they were small, crowded affairs. My mother always just led us to the stairways.
Then one day we heard an outfit called The Fair Store was going to build store in suburban areas. Department stores not downtown? Wow.
The first one opened in River Oaks, appropriately called Fair Oaks. This wasn’t near enough to our area for us to go there, so we didn’t pay much attention, but then we heard they were going to build Fair Ridglea about three blocks from our house. How cool was that?
Everyone in our neighborhood was excited about having a department store in the area, saving the trip downtown. Then we heard it was going to have a moving stairway. You could just step onto it and it would carry you upstairs while you stood still.
My friends and I could hardly believe such a thing. Automatically opening doors had been a big thing just a few years earlier—but a moving stairway? We couldn’t imagine such a thing.
When the store opened, we just had to ride our bicycles over to check this out. We were barely inside the door when we saw it. Sure enough, not one, but two shining metal stairways stood next to each other. The stairs on one moved upward, while those on the other moved downward. Was this for real?
I’m sure we ran, and probably shoved a bit also, to get onto it. After riding up, we immediately moved over to the other one to go down. Then back up. Then back down. Then up the down one and down the up one.
I don’t remember whether we actually knocked anyone down in this process, but we caused enough trouble a store official came over and firmly invited us to leave. He told us not to come back unless we were with an adult.
Can’t say I blame him. We were pretty disruptive. But it’s not every day a boy makes such a radical discovery as moving stairs.
Ø Think of your early childhood—what things would blow your children’s or grandchildren’s minds compared to their lives today?
Ø How did some of these things from childhood mold your development?
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