Lewis’s was a Glasgow landmark for generations as at one time it was the biggest department store in the UK. I remember being taken there sometimes as a child by my mum as a real treat. Anyone over the age of 30 who was brought up in Glasgow would have visited Santa’s Grotto at Lewis’s. Christmas was a very magical time in the store as the third floor stockroom was transformed, by a very talented display team, into a fabulous wonderland. Children’s faces just lit up when they saw the fantastic animated characters all the way through the grotto finally getting to meet Santa, collect their toy and have their picture taken. Janice Galloway talks about getting a pink manicure set which she thought was cutlery but I only remember telling Santa what I wanted, which was a walking, talking doll.
To be be very small in such a big store was a bit daunting. I got lost once and remember that feeling of panic as I looked around trying to see where my mother had gone in a sea of strangers. I remember sweeping central marble staircases with highly polished banister rails and every which way I looked from the stairs led to a different section of the shop. Mannequins dressed in the latest fashions here, make up fripperies there and it was jaw droppingly enchanting. I imagined living there. It will seem odd to younger readers that it was possible to do a whole day’s visit to the shops without actually buying anything. Gifts really were held back until Christmas mornings or birthdays. Needed new socks? Just as well your birthday was coming up!
After Lewis’s we went to Wendy’s which was a magical tearoom that did high teas specialising in bacon and creamed mushrooms on toast. There was a lit up display of a Wendy house in the corner just as you entered the tearoom and I used to look at that while we queued for a table. It was always busy on Saturdays but well worth the wait. The waitresses wore black dresses and white aprons and were lovely to young children. They served the cake from a trolley using plastic tongs. Perfect!
(Photo 2 in this link: http://urbanglasgow.co.uk/archive/people-and-places__o_t__t_1036.html )