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The Villages
Thursday, October 28, 2021

Meet me under the Kaufmann clock

Barry Evans
Barry Evans

The Blonde in the House and I are in a downsized mode right now.

One of the things that means is that we do not have all the wall paintings and pictures that we used to have.  In fact, many of our old favorites are probably hanging in some place unknown to us right now. However, one that The Blonde refused to give up is still in our (small) living room. It is a rendering of the famous (to people from Pittsburgh) of the Kaufmann clock – along with part of Kaufmann’s. Kaufmann for the unknowing was a department store in downtown Pittsburgh. As with many department stores, it is no more, although I believe the clock is still there.

In the old days folks in Pittsburgh would say to their friends, “I’ll meet you under the Kaufmann clock.” They would and then go about their business together. I used to tell The Blonde that they did that so much because most of them were probably directionally challenged like she is.  Everybody knew where the clock was so it was hard to get lost if you were to meet someone there.  Kaufmanns was a great department store in its day.  They had boundless Christmas displays in their windows.  In fact, people from Pittsburgh would claim that they were better than Macy’s or Gimbel’s. There would be arguments about that if a New Yorker happened to be in Pittsburgh over the relative merits of the decorations.

Unfortunately, today there is little argument over such decorations – mainly because most of the department store buildings are harboring some other kind of store, restaurant or whatever today. That is rather sad.  Heck, I even miss what the Sandy Lake Five and Ten cent store used to have.  They would have a nice live tree with a stuffed Santa right next to it. There was only one window so it couldn’t hold too much, but as kids we were still excited about the coming of Christmas. I recall that one year the widow on one side had a collection of cap pistols.  I wanted one of each – which, of course, I did not get.  Today, even in what department stores there are none of them would dare put in a display of cap pistols. The world has changed and the only thing worse might be if a store displayed a Red Ryder BB gun.

I wish that I had retained some of my cap pistols and my Red Ryder BB gun. I could show them to the grandkids who would either be impressed or shocked that I would harbor such weapons of mass destruction in my house. Actually, I have never shot anybody in all my long life, but things were different then!  Today who knows what might happen if there were still cap guns in abundance!  I guess it is better that we do not find out.  Things are messed up enough already without getting in arguments over cap guns or BB guns.  We did have a ball with them though.  I never ran across anybody who had their eye shot out either. It should be noted that Red Ryder himself would have been very upset if someone did shoot their eye out.  His friend Little Beaver would also have been unhappy.

Finally, I figure if stores in the area can already have their Christmas decorations out, that I can write a column involving Christmas!

(Update) The FBI believes that it has found yellow rubber duckies Ludwig and Larry at Alexander Springs near Altoona, FL. The DNA has not been confirmed yet.

Barry Evans is a columnist for Villages-News.com

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