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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PhotoWednesdayXmas Eve 08 Edition
(Ho Ho Ho & a cake full'a rum)

I'm not big on Christmas. There. Smite me down oh jolly elf of western commerce! Go on fat man, make your move!! um ready for you, elfin magic is no substitute for street skillz!!

What I am big on (as my three point five devoted readers can attest) is telling stories about the spirit of Brooklyn past.

This Wednesday's photo was taken on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn at what was once the Abraham & Straus department store, which is now a Macy's.
Is there even a store in Brooklyn for kids to go to and see Santa anymore? And is he progressively multicultural like this one was in the mid 70's? Granted given my politics today, I doubt I'd want to expose my phantom children to the big red hoax but it's such a cute scene, no wonder parents cave.

The look on my face is me staring at his hat, (I was fascinated by the faux fur, in drawings I imagined it was like a white tire around his head, I was weird) but most of my time on Afro-Santa's knee was spent telling him he wasn't Santa cause he was black. Hopefully somewhere in the coming Obama age there's a Mexican kid trying to negotiate a Korean Santa thus demonstrating how far we've really come.

"A&S" as it was referred to for years, to understate, was a major store, rivaling all others of it's day. Real old Brooklynites will remember it as the big name on a Fulton Street crowded with stores like Korvette's, McCory's, Mays (not to be confused with Macy's) and Woolworths. All those stores are gone, no sadness, things change. But the A&S building still stands, it's a great grand Art Deco structure and worth it to check out even if you don't need to shop and if you want to get some history check the wiki entry for it here. Even better the NYTimes goes into architectural detail here.

All that to say I remember the photo, the day, being a kid and not really being excited to go see santa as much as I was excited to be outside, to see all the people shopping, walk thru that huge A&S first floor, take the ancient escalators, or even better, the elevators each had operators with that according fold gate they'd manually shut. I remember that experience and my family most of all. My grandmother took me have the photo taken. As we were leaving the apt my uncle, about 18 at the time insisted on coming and kept telling me what to do during the photo (that's his head from the left).

I remember that and more, all good times. I'm skimping on the story because the point is I hope these next days will bring you peace, warmth and if nothing else memories to love.


  1. cute kid. seems like kind of a troublemaker tho ;)

  2. very different scene there now, at macy's; brings back pleasant memories to the here-born, that great photo. and when we say different we mean not worse, not better, just different. que viva la diferencia.


  3. Yea man...I remember well. My memories that stick out the most were the animatronic muppets in the display windows in the front of A&S. I would stand there for at least a half an hour to memorize the patterns of each muppet and it's corelation to the rest. Ah yes, this was a time when I actually was under the spell of ol' St. Nick.

  4. YOOO!!!! I forgot the animated puppets in the windows, ohhh man that was the deal! Mannn thanks for bringing that one back, I always thought those windows were better than Macy's and yeh, groups of kids and tired parents would be motionless in front of those windows...

    Also I found as I was checking my recollections, that back in the day, before our time, A&S had live mannequins in the windows, and they would draw huge crowds. Eventually there was an in store fashion show, and the had residences in the store so the live mannequins could perform frequently.

  5. I wish someone would post a colored picture of the Tree that hung from the ceiling in A&S on Fulton Street. It was where the elevators were, 1st floor


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