22 March 2009

Always something there to remind me...

On a day when it seemed there was only bad news, Arizona brought me two things to smile about.

First, the Wildcats very improbably made it to the Sweet Sixteen. When I was in high school, and even for years afterward, I followed college basketball simply to watch the Cats. When I was growing up, no one really paid any attention to UA's football team, but the basketball team...I'm not sure even the Lakers had so rabid a following. More recently, I've just kept a weather eye on the Cats, and this year's weird and sad loss of former coach Lute Olsen looked like the start of a really crushing season for the team. But, Sweet Sixteen. I am that pleased for them.

Second, while reading the paper tonight, I came across a column on longtime Tucson fashion maven Cele Peterson, who celebrated her 100th birthday this month. The idea that she was deposited by a forklift into a wagon for the Rodeo Parade five years ago made me laugh. I saw her once in one of her stores--oh she was the creme de la creme for formal wear when I was young--and I just remember her as so upright and regal and elegant.

I didn't always dislike shopping, you know. Back when family department stores reigned, not the homogenized shopping "experience" that's forced on us today, it was fun to go to stores to browse. Every store had its own character and architecture and decor and merchandise. The older stores in the Downtown area had shiny brass railings and intricate tiled entryways, chandeliers and red carpets. There was a lovely little department store, Goldwyn's, next to the grocery store, not so fancy as the larger ones but with a nice selection of nicer casual clothing, and I loved looking in their windows, especially at night when the spotlit mannequins seemed both magical and terrifying. I remember precisely the outfit I received from that store one Christmas when I was about the daughter's age, one of the few fashionable outfits I had as a child.

Steinfeld's was both glorious--I remember being overwhelmed by the grandeur of the Downtown store when I was small--and tragic after the elder Steinfelds were killed in the Pioneer Hotel fire. Levy's was especially gorgeous at Christmas and I enjoyed walking through the wide, uncluttered aisles, just looking. Levy's also kindly bestowed upon me my first ever credit card (that's another story).

They are all gone now: Goldwyn's and Steinfeld's, Levy's and Jacome's, even Goldwater's. Some of the smaller boutiques like Cele Peterson's survive, but other stalwarts like Korby's and The College Shop have long since vanished too, replaced by the likes of Forever 21 and Wet Seal, cookie cutter clothes for today's cookie cutter lifestyle.

Go listen to some music: "Bachrach/David Medley" from the album Carpenters by The Carpenters. This album was given to me as a gift when I was just a little kid. It was "approved" music.


elfridabeetle said...

I was born in Tucson in 1955, my parents moved here in 1942. I miss what Tucson was, and lament what it has become...

guerrilla girl said...

My family moved to Tucson in the late 1960s from Washington, D.C., and I left in the 1980s to go to college. Like you, I miss the Tucson I knew in those days, and find it harder and harder to go back there now.