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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Dorothy’s Place: Christmas Before Plastic

Dorothy’s Place: Christmas Before Plastic

by Pasadena Independent
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By Dorothy Denne

(Think Jingle Bells)
Dashing through the mall,
It is panic time today.
Ten more gifts to buy,
Money’s gone away.
Problem solved, problem solved,
Credit line is good.
Oh, what fun it is to shop
With a plastic card to pay!
What was Christmas shopping like before we had credit cards? Remember layaway? Remember Christmas Savings Clubs at the banks?

When I was fifteen, I sold shoes in Dan Cohen’s Shoe Store on Monday evenings and Saturday for 50 cents an hour. When I could, I supplemented that with babysitting for 35 cents an hour. My father had died when I was ten so most of that money went to my mother to help meet living expenses.

I bought Mom a chenille bathrobe for Christmas that year. Now, a chenille bathrobe was something really special. This one was red, which made it extra really special. Red was Mom’s favorite color.

I bought it as Habib’s Department Store. I don’t remember exactly when I bought it but I know I put it in layaway many weeks before Christmas. I paid a little on it each week. I managed to get it out just two days before Christmas. Mr. Habib himself saw to it that they gift-wrapped it for me for free.

The following Christmas was a little easier. I still used layaway but I had also joined a Christmas Savings Club at Mutual Bank. I had deposited 50 cents a week so when December came, I got a $25 Christmas check from the bank. That took the panic out of shopping.

When I was 16, I got a job in the office of Kresge’s 5&10 store. I was able to get early dismissal from school (1:30) so I worked every afternoon, Monday and Friday evenings, all day Saturday — all that at 65 cents an hour. Wow. I was able to join the $1 Christmas Club and get a $50 check.

Now, these many years later, I can dash through the malls with credit card in hand and no panic. But you know, I don’t think I have ever bought another gift that gave me as much joy as that red chenille bathrobe I laid away for Mom.

Merry Christmas to all!

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