Wednesday, November 14, 2007

At Least the Star

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The Macy's star has become a holiday tradition in Seattle.

The Seattle Times had a story in today's paper about Seattle's traditional star. Although I have lived in the Seattle area since 1979, I knew nothing of the history of this yearly Christmas decoration. Evidently, the star has been a part of our downtown for over 50 years. The man, Bob James, who designed it helped with its installation on top of Macy's yesterday. He is 86 years old and was a lifelong employee of the Bon Marche, the original local department store hosting the display.

Frankly, I miss parts of the downtown that existed when I worked at Third and Columbia. At Christmas time, during lunch breaks from my stressful and overwhelming job, I would walk down to the triumverate department stores before there was a "Westlake." On one corner was the Bon Marche, which opened in 1890. On another corner was Frederick & Nelson, also a local store, though related to Marshall Fields. The third was a small Nordstrom which also had its birth here.

I loved Frederick & Nelson. The top floor had furniture and our current living room coffee table came from there. The bottom floor in the basement had gourmet foods and candy including Frangos. They always had the best Santa and either when Kaley was a baby or when I was pregnant with her, I took Lucas--just him and me--to a Santa breakfast at the store. The window displays were out of this world and a delight to all. Over and above the city blocks, the Bon Marche star was always visible.

The Bon Marche is no more having been taken over by Macy's. They tried to soften the blow by calling it "Bon-Macy's" for a while but when nobody was paying attention, they dropped the "Bon" part. Previously, Frederick & Nelson went out of business completely. When that happened, the Bon took over the yummy F & N candy called Frangos. Macy's has continued with the candy after taking over the Bon. Nordstrom then moved into the giant beautiful building that had been Frederick & Nelson's to become a flagship store. Cold Creek or Old Navy or some other global chain store moved into Nordstrom's old building---I am not sure which.

Don't get me wrong. I love how Seattle's downtown is thriving with lots of stores, boutiques and new restaurants. I just miss the triumverate.

At least, we have our star.