December 23, 2013

Forever Wanamakers to me...

The week that was...

More than five kids screaming,
Four fathers cursing,
Three mothers drinking I don't know WHAT from sippy cups,
Two security guards summoned,
And a VERY pregnant lady hauled outta line for starting a fight in line to see the Dickens' Village.

Yes....twas the Saturday before Christmas at the Wanamaker's Macy's Christmas light show in Philly.

"The Wanamaker's Christmas Light Show"
December 16 - December 23, 2013
Project 52 (51/52)

Back in yonder time when I was in elementary school, before "Child Protective Services", my parental units would allow me to take the train from our home in suburban Philly into center city to see the annual John Wanamaker Department Store Christmas light show and displays.  When confronted for an explanation on HOW she could ALLOW me to do this at such a young age, Mom claims it was a "different" time.  Yes it was. Altho there WERE homeless men sleeping on train station benches back then too, I know this because we sat down and talked to them a few times (I MIGHT not have ever mentioned that to Mom).  So much for the threat "do NOT talk to strangers!"  It was a real adventure for us to embark on that journey sans parental units watching our every move.

John Wanamakers was THE department store in the Philly area.  And the John Wanamaker building remains quite the beauty inside.  Completed in 1910, it is an Italian Renaissance design built around a grand court.  Fifteen department store floors in that Wanamakers.  The elevators had operators, dressed VERY nicely, that would announce "10th floor lingerie" when the doors opened.  Now?  It's no longer Wanamakers.  It's one in a gazillion Macys.  Only three floors are utilized by the store.  And you are totally on your own!  Except on Saturday where security tried to control the crowds on the escalator by yelling "keep moving".  Yes Virginia, there USE to be a charm to a Wanamaker's Christmas visit.  Macys?  It's okay as long as you remember to bring that extra 20% off coupon.

I decided it was time for me to introduce the family to a Philly tradition last week.  So we took the train into the city to take in the Wanamaker Christmas Light Show (sorry Macy' will always be Wanamakers to moi!).  

The unseasonable 65 degree temps, the last Saturday before Christmas, and the dreaded Philly 'tudes...proved to be not so much of a holly jolly environment.  People pushing, parents yelling at their kids, kids crying because they were yelled at, and even a full blown physical fight between a VERY pregnant woman and another mom with her toddler in tow.  Security was very VERY busy.  Yes kids, apparently mom was right, it IS a different time from my last visit.  It took us all about 45 minutes to reach our threshold.   Time to move on to Plan B...

"A Holly Jolly Happy Hour"
Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

...we exited Macy's and joined Santa for happy hour.  From the looks of what went on inside of Macy's, I'm pretty sure Santa has a HUGE "naughty list" this year.  Bah Humbug!

Here's where I'm linking up today ..."The Party's On"

Please join me on Sundays for Song-ography.
This week's song title is "Home for the Holidays".


  1. I may be crying. At my desk at should have waited until I got home. I literally gasped out loud when I saw the inside of the building. It was a different time....thought I don't think I started venturing into the city on my own (me, my math homework and the paoli local) until I was in 8th grade. I love this!

  2. OMGoodness...this the season for sure! Makes me laugh, and yesterday, I experienced that same wicked woman in the back of the line moaning and groaning very loudly, about having to wait in line for 20 minutes to check out. Here I am singing Christmas songs to myself, and smiling all the while because she was making a complete a** of herself and the poor thing didn't even know it. FA LA LA and all that jazz! Have a great Christmastime with all of your "things" Kathy. Aloha

  3. Such a fun post this is Kathy, and it takes me right back to "way back when". I grew up in the chicago area, and when I was a kid, it was the big thing at Christmas to go to Marshall Field and company for everything Christmas. Santa was always there, and was actually up high above the crowd on an elevated platform. When it was your turn, you took sort of a small cable car up to see him. The windows outside the store were different every year, and there were alot of them as the store took up a huge city block. The windows were decorated with a new childrens story which was animated, with each window advancing the story. Windows were hidden until the day after thanksgiving, ahem, when the Christmas season began. A gazillion people brought their kids every year to see the Marshall Field Christmas story. The inside of the store looks very very similar, even today, to your Wannamakers, and guess who now owns it. Yep, Macys. it is just not the same now as it was either. The design of the inside of the store though looks like the same person designed it, right up to the tree and the light show. The only thing I don't see here is that tiffany ceiling that is in the store in chicago ( not macy's to me either.
    Sorry that you did not have quite the fun experience that you remember, but yes... it is a different time. I still miss those elevator guys though... they were so helpful, and worked in the same store on the same elevator, sometimes for their whole working life. Maybe they are all now security guards. UGH! '
    Loved your post and your photos. They are all just great, and this really got me in more of a christmas mood,..... glad to get christmas and those pushy pregnant women over with, and head out to spring.
    Have a great holiday with your family!

  4. I laughed at your description of the chaos that you encountered, and the remedy that even poor Santa took up--happy hour! Those trees and lights are certainly beautiful, though. I remember going to Wanamaker's on my ONE trip to Philadelphia in 1976 when I was 12 (yes, I'm dating myself).

  5. LOVE these! The first one is amazing. I love that building - so gorgeous.

  6. That is truly a beautiful building and beautifully decorated also. It is too bad that people have not retained their grace and charm like the architecture has.
    Have a peaceful Christmas at home.

  7. Kathy! FABULOUS PHOTOGRAPHS!!! ABSOLUTELY F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. did i say FABULOUS??? OH I MEANT, FAB U L ...OUS!!! {so fabulous that I felt I was there and was right along with you} Thank you for the guided tour.

    In Salt Lake City, ...ew, they tore it all down [the old Z.C.M.I.] {google it} yet kept the unique facade and now Macy's claims it. But the new mall is very very wonderful and I love it there!!! Now it is City Creek Center {google it}. love to you my friend!

    (please see my post tomorrow)

  8. Amazing lights and what memories. Your description of the waiting line reminds me of the first time we took the children to Disney World. It was hot. Long lines. Crying children. Crying parents. We stopped for a second and took it all in and realized that we needed to slow things down and go at a reasonable pace. Fewer tears. (I'm guessing Santa isn't watching Disney either because at one point or another just about every visitor meets the criteria for the Naughty List.)

  9. Great photography! And what a beautiful building , looks grand! If I ever come to Philadelphia....A very merry christmas for you a your family.

    1. IF you ever make it to know you have a tour guide here :) Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  10. My you were such an adventurous child, ummmm and you still are quite the adventurer. And, we get to reap the benefits of seeing your awesome photos and reading your commentary which is always so full of great surprises. Wishing you all a Christmas full of love an laughter and a blessed New Year.

  11. Memories... I was one of those kids allowed to get on the R5 line from Lansdale at 14 and ride into Philly by myself or with a friend or two as well. Without a cell phone no less! Of course, pay phones were a quarter back then... and still existed in abundance. ;) Ah, Wanamakers... (sigh) Thanks for the memories and for giving me glimpses of life before Allentown and adulthood. LOL! Merry Christmas from that smaller city to your north west!

  12. Looks so Beautiful.. Wonderful photos once again my friend..


  13. Wow! That's pretty bad behavior for such a beautiful place and holiday. Glad you found some relief at happy hour!