This is a nostalgic post about the many days I spent with my mother doing

errands with her. I was blessed to be the only girl, my brothers were not

interested in tagging along with us.  Ever!

My father was put in charge of the ‘boys,’ while we sometimes dressed up

and went to the downtown Sandusky shops. Then, when I reached third grade,

we sometimes ventured off to downtown Cleveland. The big stores, like The

May Company, Halle’s, and Higbees department stores. Each had their own

luncheon menus, nice dining rooms and calm, quiet atmospheres.  It was so

indulgent of Mom to treat us to a nice meal out.

There were other errands, like to the individual stores, where you would go

into, just to make one or two purchases.  Not like today, the one stop shopping

experience! Nor were we yet, going to malls to search for necessary items.

In the paint store, we would look and look through colors of paint chips.

Sometimes those strips were available, but not sure when the time frame

was that they arrived at the paint store.

We also would go in antique stores and look all around, sometimes only to

purchase one vase or gift for my aunt, one of mother’s friends or for one of

the book shelves or display shelves in our home. I liked when we looked at

odd things, like tiles that were taken out of an older home, headboards or

frames for paintings. I had only two things I collected which were place card

holders and birds of all kinds. I normally would just look, unless my birthday

or Christmas were approaching. I was not one who would ask for anything,

though. Somehow, I just liked to look at all the pretty and interesting things.


At the fabric store, where all sewing items were sold, we would spend hours

pouring over the patterns for ‘back to school’ clothes, for her and for me. She

and I wore matching clothes to church sometimes, but while we were in two

different school districts, it never worried or embarrassed me to know that

my Mom may be wearing the same fabric and pattern, only a whole different

size! My favorites of all the parts of the store, were the turning racks of cards

with buttons on them. I also liked choosing rick rack for the edges of skirts.

One wonderful and sensory memory, was the smell of the fabrics! While men

may be excited about the scent of the ‘new car smell,’ I still love the smell of

textiles! The final nice memory, which really came flooding back to my mind,

today while quietly visualizing my experiences of errands is using the sense of

hearing. This is a sound which came resonating and reverberating back to me:

“Thump, Thump, Thump!”

The big bolt of cloth being unwound from its cardboard base.

Followed by the unmistakable sound of the fabric shears slicing through the fabric,

going along the weave, or the ‘bias’ of the fabric.

Then, the sales clerk, folding the fabric up, tabulating the items that went along with

it, buttons, thread, lace or rick rack, and the patterns. (Sometimes a zipper was also


Carefully gathered, placed into the bag. Sometimes it was a paper bag with handles, in

later years, it was a plastic bag.

If we were running to the grocery store, on a whole different day, we may not get so

dressed up. This may just be pants or shorts for me, a nice clean top inspected by my

Mom. My mother wore dresses through until the 70’s, for her wardrobe for ‘going out’

in. Then, there were pant suits, matching items.

Mom’s choice of makeup meant, a mirror came out, a lipstick was smoothed over her

lips, her face powder was applied, and then rouge.

She has still ‘Bette Davis’ eyes, which don’t need any mascara and she hardly ever chose

to wear eye shadow, either!


When you think of ‘errands’ you ran, with one or both of your parents, what senses seem

to be important to your memories?

What is a memory that is so fresh that you can remember many details to it?


28 responses »

    • Thank you, Carol! I am sure your memories are quite lovely, too! I enjoyed really concentrating on the senses. Somewhere else, I had read this is a good multi-dimensional way of remembering!

  1. you paint a very vivid picture of both the errands and your senses. i remember going to the grocery store, a very different experience when i was with my mom, or dad. with my mom, it took a long time, there was a list, things were in order, and crossed off. with my dad, we were all over the place, kind of picked things that looked good and off the list and usually forgot a few things. )

    • I love the contrast between your parents, Beth! I can just picture your Dad going in multiple directions, picking things that were not on a list and looked good to him or you! fun times! It is nice to have a little bit of both of their best qualities, right?!

    • Thank you and hope you have an excellent weekend, too! Did you have any memories of how you and your Mom went to stores? I like to hear a variety of different experiences. All of them are so interesting! Smiles, Robin

  2. With so many kids in our family I remember, once I was old enough, to be the errand runner. By foot. To get diapers. Or milk. Or eggs. Etc. I remember always getting cabbage instead of lettuce (you think mom would have known better by a certain point to not have me be the picker upper of lettuce).

    I enjoyed your sensory recall. How vivid! And how wonderful your trips were with your mom. 🙂

    • Oh, sorry you were the errand runner, but did you sometimes feel ‘important’ as such? I am laughing, because at least once I asked my Mom why the cabbage head wasn’t what she wanted when she asked me to go find some lettuce! (Really true, too!) This made me laugh at how things are when we are young, then we are older, we don’t really see it as so funny!

      I am glad you reminded me of those words, ‘sensory recall,’ Colleen! This is what it was!

  3. I enjoyed the trips to the fabric store. I made all my clothes through high school. The sounds and the smells you described brought back some fond memories with my mom too.

    • Oh, this is what I had hoped for, April! To bring back some fond memories! I made some of my clothes when I was in high school, but mainly my Mom was the best seamstress in our household! Have a great weekend, April!

  4. Nothing readily comes to mind on errands. My mum was very busy, I doubt we ran errands together. But, I enjoyed reading about yours and the warm images they evoked. I’ve always liked the smell of baked/baking bread in the supermarket.

    • Oh, bread’s baking in an oven is a heavenly aroma! It can get my mouth watering, along with popcorn in a theater, Timi! Thanks for letting me know that your Mum was the shopper, sans children! Smiles and enjoy your weekend, Timi!

  5. Robin, you’ve brought back the memory of the fabric stores. I spent a lot of time there as a kid, for my grandmother and for me, mainly. Then at 18 I had an interview to work at a fabric store, and they gave me a math test and although I scored very high on standardized math tests I was so nervous I couldn’t answer ANYTHING. So I didn’t get the job. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    • You have written about sewing, which I think is so wonderful. The clothes, doll clothes, blankets and other special home-made items are such really great ways of feeling part of the other person. Their ‘gift’ of using their talents, your grandmother and also, your mother, my Mom and others… truly makes us feel loved! I am so sorry that you ‘froze’ on the test for the fabric store!
      You are welcome, as always, for trips down memory lane, with me, Luanne!

  6. Love this, Robin! I loved going to the mall with my mother and my grandmother, when she visited. We ate at the Hot Shoppes Cafeteria. My grandmother always wanted to stop at Woolworths, since there wasn’t one in her town. Great memories!

    • This is so fun, hearing about different errands and shopping trips from my friends’ memories, Jill! Thanks for enjoying it, that makes me feel good! I loved hearing about where you ate, I have not heard of a Hot Shoppes Cafeteria. It sounds like a great choice, my grandparents liked a cafeteria in Florida, was it “MCL cafeteria?” I think. Anyway, it is nice when you were growing up, to have a chance to have both your mother and grandmother, shopping at the same time. I used to enjoy a Woolworth’s in Sandusky, Ohio, then a Pilsner’s 5 and 10,
      five and dime, in Delaware, almost 27 years ago, when we arrived here.

  7. Vivid memories Robin. I didn’t do errands with my mum much, though I do remember going into town where a supermarket, though they weren’t called them back then, had a large cafeteria and after a train ride into the city and a look around the shops, we would go there for lunch. I remember sitting down at laminated tables amongst all the housewives and their children. Love that your mum has Bette Davis eyes ~I look like a rabbit without eye makeup – smiles

    • This is so fascinating, listening to the different stories of shopping with parents, only one told about their Dad, though! (Beth, dear heart!) I think going into town on a train, into the city, where there was a large cafeteria, where you could each choose your own food, would be quite fun, Jen! I like the idea of sitting down at laminated tables, where housewives and children were gathered. This could make an entirely interesting poem or story, with your people watching, from your own eyes, as a child.
      I am so amused when I have had men in my life, tell me this, each not knowing others’ before them, had noticed them! Smiles back to you, Jen!

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