CharlieMC (charliemc) wrote,
CharlieMC
charliemc

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Lipman's

I worked there in the late 1970's. It was an amazing store.

I worked for supervisor Lucille Stelzenmueller. (I'm not sure about the spelling of the last name. Might have been slightly different.) She, too, was amazing.

Most people found Lucille an ironclad bitch, frankly. And many times I agreed with that. But I saw other sides of this woman, too...

She was forceful and strong. She ran her department well. She was loyal to the store and loyal to the employees who worked under her. She also (bless her) had a soft side that was rarely shared with others...

For some reason I've had dreams about her recently. Three in the past two weeks. The one early this morning (I woke at around 3:30 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep until around 5:00) had me lying awake thinking about her.

And about the store I worked for.

I went online first thing this morning to try and do some 'research' on Lipman's and Lucille.

I have to admit that I've no clue how old Lucille was when I worked for her. I'd have guessed she was in her 40's or 50's. I was in my early to mid 20's at the time. She seemed 'older' to me, but not old. (We had two women in the department who were older--perhaps in their 60's. Lucille seemed younger than them--and I believe she was.)

I admit that I've never been good with age. I guess it doesn't impact me all that much. (One of my best friends at the current time is more than ten years older than me, for example. And I've had loads of friends who are much younger. This was true all through my life, I guess.)

Lucille had a dream when I knew her. She wanted to retire from her full-time job in our department. (The work there was hard, frankly. It was the 'Service' department--and had a variety of roles. We sold postage stamps, Tri-Met tickets and passes (common practice at the time--a few banks did, as well), did wrapping for mailing and fancy gift wrap (some of the best I've ever seen to date), made store change (handling thousands of dollars daily) and so on. The line almost never ended from the second the store opened to the second it closed...

(We also 'manned'--though our department was always 100% female, mind you--the nearby Green Stamps booth. My first department job was in that booth at Christmas! LOL.)

Lucille wanted to retire from her supervisor job and get a part-time job as a hostess in the famous Lipman's Tearoom (on the tenth floor of the store). She confided that to me more than once...

I left Lipman's before the store was sold and became another Frederick & Nelson's. Sigh. It wasn't the same. At all.

I can't believe how little there is about the store online. It was a beautiful building! We were the hands-down winners at that time in the on-going battle of the time with our neighbor Meier & Frank. Far more classy. A step above in service, in decor, in merchandise.

When I worked there they'd recently lifted the requirement that all store employees dress entirely in black! There were still some women 'on the floor' (saleswomen) who did dress in black dresses, though! (And men in black suits. Three pieces.)

We always called those who visited the store 'patrons.' To this day the word sticks in my mind.

No one ever beat me over the head with it. No one ever had to remind me to use the word. It was carefully mentioned in the little booklet I was given on the day I was hired. I loved the concept behind the word and I still do. There was a sign of respect there when we called you a patron of our store!

The idea of customer service was very strong then. We prided ourselves throughout the store that we offered some of the best personal service to our patrons. We were considered by many the 'creme de la creme' of high class department stores.

We still had one elevator that had an actual operator on board. Not because it was difficult to operate, mind you. But because it was classy. That was the elevator many patrons wanted to ride. The operator would deliver a patron to the exact location, in a sense.

I remember riding that elevator a few times while I worked there. The operator was very sweet and really liked her job. (The main operator. She had relief, of course.) She was always very nice and friendly with me.

I used to end up assisting patrons on my lunch break if I wasn't in the lunchroom. We didn't often take breaks in our department (except to dash to the bathroom), to be honest. We were too busy!

I recall that working there was when I first started to have trouble with me feet. LOL. We stood all day, of course.

My (beloved) Aunt Dorothy used to ride the bus downtown in the days when I'd be on Saturdays so she and I could go to the 'Orange Slice' (I think it was on the sixth floor... ?) and have coffee. Well, it was tea for her! LOL.

Saturday's were slower, so I was able to take a break with her. She loved that, by the way--and so did I!

I was 'in charge' of the department on Saturday's after I'd been there six months (I guess). Opening and Closing our department was quite the thing. We did a partial inventory in the morning and a full inventory at every single closing (which is why we didn't need to do a full inventory in the mornings!).

We handled more postage than any location that wasn't an official post office. At the time, we handled more Tri-Met sales than Tri-Met did! We were the store change for the bottom five floors of the store, as well...

Okay, I could go on and on here about Lipman's. In fact, I think I'll record more on purpose! At least there would be one place that had mention of what the store was like in those days!

The other online accounts discuss the store in the 1880's (not the same location), or in the 1950's. Or in the 1980's--after it was no longer Lipman's!

(There's also a Lipmann's here in town, which sells party supplies. Nothing at all like Lipman's, mind you!)

The building is now a historical building. Not that it matters much to me, seeing as it's no longer a store you can enter and shop in. And they made drastic changes to it after it was sold...

Lucille never got to realize her dream. That's very sad. I wasn't working there at the time and I'd lost touch with her. I wish I could figure a way to locate her (if she's still living).

By the way, why is it so hard to find records of people via the internet?

(Those interested can look for more parts to my Lipman's saga in future entries! I just might have to devote part of one of our websites to Lipman's...)
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