I remember being six years old and going with my Mother on a shopping trip. Shopping with my Mom was one of the most enjoyable experiences that I could ever have. She seemed to know every woman who worked in every toy department in every store in Oshawa. I always scored the neatest playthings.
There was always a sense of excitement on a shopping day. My Mother would always begin with a trip through the women’s stores. I was always kissed, hugged, and tickled by the salesgirls. I attribute this to my appreciation and love of women as I grew. I was never alone while my Mom tried on a multitude of different outfits.
After my Mother finished buying new clothes we stopped for a drink at the Kresgee’s counter. Kresgees was a department store, and they had a built-in restaurant with a long counter. The woman behind the counter was always very friendly and always gave me a paper triangle cup in an aluminum holder filled with grape soda and ice.
After our little break, it was off to the children’s clothing stores, and finally, as a reward, my Mom took me into the Laura Secord’s Chocolate Shop and bought something delicious for us to munch on in the car on the way home.
What happened when I was a young child helped form who I became as an adult. I had an idyllic life thanks to loving, caring parents. They instilled a love of life in me that I am grateful for every morning when I wake up.
When I was nineteen years old and in my first year of University I went with my Mother to the Oshawa Shopping Centre to try on a pair of jeans. I insisted on treating my Mom to a nice refreshing cool drink. We decided on the Kresgee’s counter.
I watched with amazement as the woman behind the counter took six different orders and gave a little boy who was sitting with his Mom a grape soda. After dropping the soda off she came over to take our order. My Mom asked for apple pie and tea, I had the traditional grape drink.
I asked the waitress how long she had been behind the counter and she stopped and looked up at the ceiling. ‘’Thirty years, I’ve been serving people for thirty years, it has been fun.’’ She said Kresgees had provided her with solid employment and a job she really loved. I asked her about retirement and she shrugged it off. ‘’You should never quit a job that is fun, and as long as I can keep having fun, I’m not going anywhere.’’ She ended by saying the day Kresgees closed would be the day she packed it in.
I was married when I was twenty-one and we had our first child two years later. My wife was from Atlanta and became very close with my Mother. It was an added bonus that they both loved to shop. It was only natural for my Mom to take my wife to the Kresgee’s counter for tea and pie.
We received a letter from my Mother and Father about three months after our visit, telling us how much they missed us and especially their Grandson. Enclosed with the letter was an article from The Oshawa Times. It was about the closing of the Kresgees store in the Oshawa Shopping Centre. The owner after thirty-four years had decided to call it quits.
The owner said she had loved owning the department store. She said she would miss interacting with people, she had a lot of fun and it was hard to believe it was all coming to an end. She said it was amazing how she watched children grow up into adults. I smiled a huge smile when I looked at the picture of the owner. It was the woman who had always served us. She was standing behind the counter proudly wearing her waitress outfit. Reading the article made me feel on the melancholy side. I had to go to the refrigerator, I all of a sudden had a craving for a grape soda. I then picked up the phone to call my parents and thank them for giving me the best childhood that any kid could ever dream of having. Funny how a grape soda could trigger those memories, but it did every time.