ChicagoNow is a group of bloggers from all sorts of different backgrounds.
With so much collective experience, we’ve decided to put that knowledge to use by posing some of the oldest and most popular questions to the group.
What is your favorite Marshall Field’s memory?
“I sold women’s shoes and handbags at the Marshall Fields store in Park Forest the summer before I started college. I was 17 years old. What amazed me is that women would ask me my opinion on certain styles of shoes and whether they looked good on them. My reassurance, as a know-nothing kid, sometimes tipped in a sale. Marshall Fields also had a policy of accepting returns, no matter what. Many customers brought in worn-out, old, smelly shoes for a refund, which I gladly gave them. It was a bit of a training ground on how to talk to women.” — Mark Andel, Hot Dog Diaries
“Christmas windows. It was always a very special trip downtown to see the windows. Sometimes we added on a trip to Skate on State. Once, we went to the Walnut Room. Just going in there and being able to ride the escalator and look (not touch anything), was a glimpse into luxury. We’d also always go there to get a box of Frango Mints for our teachers for a Christmas gift. My great aunt and mother at holiday dinners still talk about how it was such a special thing to get to go downtown and the Marshall Fields.” — Stephanie Esposito, Chicago Rucks
“Visiting the Walnut Room after seeing the windows decorated for Christmas. For years after Marshall Field’s became Macy’s, I held a Marshall Field’s Memorial Dinner at in December. The entire menu came from the Marshall Field’s cookbook and the decor included many Marshall Field’s tchotchkes.” — Jessica Gardner, Little Merry Sunshine
“Marshall Fields use to have a warehouse on Pulaski and Diversey. It was loaded with furniture that they couldn’t sell from their stores. I got a Bernhardt leather sofa from there and even at their “warehouse discount” it was, at the time, the most expensive piece of furniture I had ever bought. Fun Fact: calling a sofa a couch is considered uncouth slang in the design and decorating world.” — Michael Messinger, Mysteries of Life
“Working the Christmas season taking phone orders for Frango mints. I was amazed at how many people across the country would orders numerous boxes at a time just to give people a taste of Chicago! It was more of a staple, really.” — Sabrina Nixon, Purple Reigns: How to Live a Full Life with Lupus
“During the blizzard of January 1979, I was one of a handful of hearty souls that made it to work at our ad agency in the Standard Oil Building. When the office offically closed about an hour later, I walked down Randolph to Field’s for a snow day adventure. The store was empty, but of course every department was staffed by professional employees. I browsed through Field’s Afar, notions, hats, perfume, lingerie, shoes and finally settled on women’s coats.Spring clothes were just starting to arrive. There I purchased a cream colored trench coat, full price, with my Marshall Field’s credit card. Of course it was wrapped in carefully folded tissue held together with a gold Marshall Field’s seal, placed in a two piece, heavy cardboard box and tied with gold cord. It was my reward for making it into work that day. And offered hope that spring was not that far away after all. I wore that coat for over twenty years.Oh, and that Marshall Field’s credit card? When I graduated from college, broke with no credit, I was turned down by Visa and Master Card, but Field’s took a chance on me. I never forgot that.” — Terry Parrilli, Very Terry
“I loved the window displays at Christmas. Even if I couldn’t get downtown to see them, there were always articles to read about them.” — Susan Schulhof, Looking for the Good
“Getting off the Lake Street L at Randolph and taking the special 2nd floor walkway directly into the dinnerware department. Great walls of china! I remember seeing all the famous brands like Lenox and Wedgwood and especially Noritake who seemed to have whole four-foot sections to themselves. Years later I worked for Noritake and learned that indeed they would have as many as 150 patterns on the walls of Marshall Field’s china department. Most other companies didn’t even make that many patterns. Back in the day when you knew someone who was getting married, you would ask them where they were registered and they would always say “Field’s.” Maybe also Carson’s. Then brides started to register at Crate and Barrel and maybe Field’s, too. Then just Crate.” — Floyd Sullivan, Waiting4Cubs
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Lead image via Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune
Filed under: Ask ChicagoNow