CLIPPED FROMThe ProvinceVancouver, British Columbia, Canada05 Jan 1966, Wed • Page 24
For All You Youngsters Out There… Linda Knight Seccaspina
One of my top ten childhood memories is the late great Eaton’s Department store in Montreal, Quebec. It didn’t matter what province you lived in–everyone made a trip to some Eaton’s, no matter where they lived, and most of us also got the Eaton’s catalogue.
The Eaton’s catalogue was such a valued part of Canadian life and it seemed to offer all things to Canadians. In Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne’s House of Dreams” Anne and Mrs. Rachel argued over the propriety of the Eaton’s catalogue, and so did our family.
Canadians found practical uses for old Eaton’s catalogues. They were used as pads for hockey games; boiled down to colour Easter eggs; used as readers in classrooms– and of course reading material for outhouses.
I remember my Grandmother telling me about one of the local gossipers who worked at the Eatons catalogue office. She told us a story one Friday night on the South Street verandah about two local sisters. Every few weeks they would order dresses and then always returned them without a belt. They would keep the belts and then you would see them walking down Main Street and they would have a dress on with a non-matching belt.
Back in the days before shopping malls flooded the land and when the Bay was still Morgan’s: going to Eaton’s meant taking a trip to downtown Montreal in December. Eaton’s was the Blue Cake counter, the Penny Bank shop, and most of all, Eaton’s was Santa.
The Christmas Wish Catalogue and the Santa Claus parade signalled the coming of Christmas for all of us. Every child that I knew understood there was only one real Santa – and that man of Christmas was only at Eaton’s. My Mother brought me to the Santa Claus parade a few times, and all I can remember was the cold, and then bright lights, and crowds inside Eaton’s as we all pushed our way to go meet Santa. I can still see the frost over the windows as we went up the escalator with my stomach churning from a cold drink that we had at the Honey Dew Restaurant.
In 1968 Eaton’s became the store that liked young people and they were a sponsor for the popular TV show “ Like Young”. I lived right around the corner from the TV station and every Saturday afternoon I lined up outside CFCF-TV sporting my grandmother’s orthopaedic brown lace up shoes and my Le Chateau pants ready to dance.
After the show was over we would all head downtown and refresh our spirits at the Honey Dew restaurant on Saint Catherine Street. One giant glass of Honey Dew along with a hot dog and then it was off to Place Du Soul. Eaton’s had become the store for young people and as I was going to fashion design school I spent a lot of time downtown at Eaton’s buying Coro Jewelry, Yardley makeup and mini jumpers with big zippers.
Eaton’s might have been trying to grab the buying dollars of the teen scene, but I know my Father had no love for the store. He hated everything I bought, everything, but somehow he figured out he didn’t have a choice. My father was horrified when Eaton’s started showcasing bell bottom pants. He saw a gal come out of the local soft ice cream store with a white pair on and told our neighbour that his daughters would wear them over his dead body.
I didn’t want my father to die, but I had been a fashionista since I saw daylight at the Brome Missisquoi Hospital in 1951. The next Saturday I took my 10 year-old sister to Montreal. Buying the ugliest Irish Green acrylic pair in Eaton’s bargain basement; ( I’m sure they were rejects) I bought two pairs. I figured if my sister was also wearing them I would only get half in trouble. Trying to spare my little sister he said nothing as we went off to the Big Brome Fair that day. But, his face was bright red for a long time and you can rest assured everyone was hearing about it.
After Eaton’s closed I never really thought much about the store until one Halloween party years later. One of the ladies at the party was wearing a vintage Eaton’s 60’s mini dress. It was way too short and each time she bent over to dip a potato chip we were getting flashes of underwear that were not vintage. Her vintage Eaton’s pantyhose was also riding up in the front and sinking to depth defying lows in the back. When she bent over once again I could no longer look. After the fifth time I decided I could no longer sit there and watch this shady Shindig show. Suddenly she went in for the next dip and the Eaton’s dress was going up fast for the win. Immediately I thought..
“And that moment Linda, was brought to you by Eaton’s — “the store that thinks young!”
CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada22 Jan 1966, Sat • Page 24
And the Radical Literary Beat Goes On …
Hi Linda, thanks again for the memories…..Montreal’s Eatons, Morgans, Honey Dew and Simpsons, all within walking distance of each other . Morgans used to have private booths in their record department where in comfort you could listen to your favourite artist’s latest ’78 or ’45. And yes the only “real” Santa Clause was at Eatons.
Being a member of Christ Church cathedral next door we watched the Santa parade from the warm Cathedral Parish house! My husband worked for Eatons for more than 40 years
Judie… how I envy you and yes I remember Christ Church Cathedral well… thank you so much for the memories.
Miss you…. thanks for the comment..:)