It was getting late and we were about to close the doors. Then she walked in or shall I say, glided. She was a caricature of the Mickey Spillane novels that were so popular in the 1950’s. His alter ego character was Mike Hammer who was a two fisted private eye with a blonde under his arm. And then, moments later, he walked in. He was much older than the girl; wore the stereotypical striped suit with shirt and tie. He promptly sat down and started to doze off. It was a fabulous scene. The stuff that Hollywood movies are made of.
But I must refer you to my recent article. “Sex and shoes. Chicago in the 1950’s and 60’s”. This is one of the many stories about a ladies shoe discount store that I worked at. It was located on the corner of Dearborn and Randolph St. in the golden age of Chicago’s loop. The United Artists theatre was still standing along with the Woods theatre kiddy corner to each other. Next to the Woods theatre was a pub with entertainment but on the lower floor it was a place where men went to be entertained. The store, located on the second floor had a neon sign facing Randolph St. and that is where the story begins.
The store had a somewhat older customer base than the high end shoe stores dotting that area. They all wanted a comfortable walking shoe so that’s what we gave them. Remember the oxford shoe (ugh)? Thankfully we did carry a line of shoes for the more fashion minded customer.
And then on day, this beautiful blonde walked in and with her, the happiest attitude I had ever seen. She was a fish out of water when comparing her to the average customer. When I asked her how she happened to wander in she said ”I saw your sign in the window and I work as a stripper across the street”. She was accompanied by a man she described as her “friend”.
It turned out by some coincidence we had shoes that she liked. She purchased at least three pair that I remember and all had four inch high heels with bare backs and the springolater (popular in the 1950’s) that kept them on her feet. And all that time her friend was snoring while glued to a chair.
The other salesmen who should have left for the day hung around for another look at the blond stripper. She truly was a Mike Hammer blond, gorgeous and voluptuous in all the right places. When she was ready to leave, she said to her friend “pay the man”. He woke up with a grunt and half asleep asked how much he owed. But then he gave me a $l tip, the only time I knew of a ladies shoe salesman ever receiving one.
A dollar then bought a hamburger with fries and Cole slaw for seventy nine cents. He paid and then with that beautiful smile, the woman thanked me and left me with the memory of the most beautiful customer we ever had.
No, I never went to see her act but all these years later I can’t deny I thought about going. And that my friends is my memory of the stripper and her sugar daddy. Makes me smile whenever I think about that day.
Memories light the corners of my mind. I hope yours too.
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