Whenever we got on the 12th Street car to go down to Halsted Street we would pass Holy Family church, and I don’t think we ever passed it where my mother didn’t say, “My mother was buried from that church.” So several years back, when I heard they were going to demolish the church, I sent them $25. And because of my $25 they didn’t demolish it–they restored it instead.
We didn’t go down to Maxwell Street. We’d go to Halsted between Roosevelt and 14th Street. My mother was a little afraid of Maxwell Street. It had all these open stalls and lots of people and carts going up and down. We could find everything we wanted on Halsted. There were all kinds of stores, one right after another. The 12th Street Store was at 12th and Halsted, and Klein’s was at 14th and Halsted. They were both bargain stores.
At Klein’s the shoes would all be out on a big counter. You had to look through the shoes to find your size. I hated it. And my mother would get in the dress-goods department and spend hours going around looking, buying pieces of fabric to make things with–dresses, whatever. She was very good with a sewing machine.
Our treat before going home was a waffle ice cream sandwich. I suppose they were a nickel or a dime or something like that. The waffle was hot, and then they put the ice cream in. Delicious.
The salesmen would be out front calling people in. “I’ve got good bargains today. What are you looking for? Coats? We’ve got coats.”
I was about 17. I was working at Sears, and I needed a new spring coat. It was the year sales tax came out. Three percent. We went into a couple of stores, and then I found this beautiful gray cloth coat with a black fox collar on it. Oh, it was beautiful. They wanted about $30. My mother, wrangling with the salesman, got it down to 15. He said, OK, he would sell it to us for 15 because he knew this little girl really wanted this coat.
He packed the coat and wrote up the bill, and he told her it was 15 dollars and 45 cents. And she said, “I’m not paying that. You agreed to $15.” He said, “I am giving it to you for $15.” I said, “Ma, that’s tax.” She said, “Tax? Well, I’m not paying any tax. I agreed on $15.” And she takes me by the arm, and we walk out of the store.
We were down to the corner, to Roosevelt, and of course I’m very upset, having lost this coat for 45 cents. She said, “Well, he said $15.” I said, “He couldn’t give it to you for $15 because he has to charge the tax.” She said, “You really liked that coat, didn’t you?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Well, you’ll probably wear it for years.” So we went back, and it was still in the box. And we paid 15 dollars and 45 cents.
It was a long coat, gray flannel. Good wool, lined with satin and all that. It was very nice. So then after a couple of years I went and matched up the material with yard goods. I had a skirt made to go with it, and I had the coat cut short. I wore it for a couple more years as a suit. So I got my 45 cents worth.