Several decades ago, Etta Hoot said yes to the dress.
It was love at first sight. “It was beautiful satin. I wanted satin with a long train,” the 86-year-old South Toledo resident said. And the price for her wedding dress was right on the money as well: $39.
Purchased at the popular Tiedtke’s store in downtown Toledo, Ms. Hoot’s satiny dream dress, along with a photograph of her on her wedding day, will be on display, along with other memorabilia, during a two-day Tiedtke’s Days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Margaret Hunt Senior Center in South Toledo.
This is no leisurely stroll-down-memory-lane. It’s about celebrating a magical place that enchanted shoppers at Christmas; that coaxed customers to purchase slabs of cheese from a gigantic orange wheel. It was a place to meet friends and relatives. “Let’s all go down to Tiedtke’s” wasn’t just a catchy phrase. It was an invitation to an adventure, and many area residents treasure the memories that will be refreshed and recaptured during the center’s fund-raising event, complete with booths offering foods similar to Tiedtke must-haves.
A 10 a.m. Friday ribbon-cutting officially will open the event with former mayors Donna Owens and Carty Finkbeiner scheduled to cut the ribbon.
No red carpet will be rolled out, but Claudette Davis, program/activities director, hopes the event will raise enough interest, and funds, to help spruce up the center where, she said, carpet needs to be replaced.
On a recent afternoon at the Hunt Center, 2121 Garden Lake Pkwy., several “regulars” shared memories of Tiedtke’s. About buying back-to-school clothes or Christmas gifts for teachers. And they talked about the fire.
Thousands of Toledoans, many drawn to the flames by nostalgia, watched as a spectacular fire snarled and snapped at the former department store in 1975, two years after the place closed. Tiedtke’s had been a Toledo institution, a carnival delight of supermarket, mall, and midway, since the 1890s.
So special was a trek to Tiedtke’s that you dressed up for the occasion: seersucker suits for the gentlemen and dresses, gloves, hats, and high heels for the ladies. Vern Ryan, 89, said he would don knickers, handmade by his mother, for Tiedtke’s trips when he was a youngster.
It’s no coincidence that the center’s event will feature Tiedtke-type booths where people can purchases items designed to conjure up recollections of the store’s favorites: casing hot dogs; pastries, roasted peanuts, Amish butter, cheese, peanut butters, specialty breads; chunk chocolate, pickles, popcorn, and fresh produce. Also available for purchase: handmade doll clothes, appliance covers, and jewelry.
“Most people have a warm memory of the old Tiedtke’s and we’re sure a lot of conversations will happen this weekend,” Mrs. Davis said.
Margaret Ryan, who turns 92 years old this month, said whenever she went to the store with her mother, they would buy a bag of orange circus peanuts.
Sally Snell, 68, applauded the store for its community connections, including the year when a fire hit their home. She and her eight siblings were invited to the store to shop, at no cost, for new clothing. Tiedtke’s, she said, was popular in part because the store cared about its customers.
She recalled, too, that “you never wanted to be bad on Tiedtke’s day or else you would have to stay home and miss out.”
Tiedtke’s featured the first “moving stairs” in the area, Mrs. Ryan recalled. Some folks would stand and and stare at the escalator and then would take the elevator instead, she said.
Bob Spenthoff, 72, remembered purchases of baseball-bat-sized tubes of baloney while Evelyn Crossen, 86, of Monclova Township fondly remembered the wonderful sweet treats such as ice cream. Sally Shaw, 70, particularly liked the baby sale where you could get oh-so-cute hats, shirts, and other clothing for infants for 88 cents an item.
Several residents chuckled when they described an “X-ray” device in the shoe department, a contraption that measured your feet and checked how shoes fit. Kids would stick a foot in, pull it out, stick it back in again. Over and over. Ms. Shaw said kids were warned that repeated use of the machine could be harmfu,l but she said her feet are just fine.
Mr. Spenthoff, who would walk home from the store to break in a new pair of shoes, doubts the Tiedtke’s atmosphere ever could be duplicated. “Nothing today could be like Tiedtke’s.”
Contact Janet Romaker at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6006.