I think posting Amy Meadow’s profile on Monday got me to remanence about Marshall Field’s and all it meant to me as a child and, of course, as an adult. Just a few random thoughts in no particular order.
I can’t remember not going to Field’s as a child. Mom would often keep me out of school to take a trip downtown to State Street for a day of shopping and, of course, lunch in the Walnut Room or the Narcissus Room (see a recipe at the end of this post!)
The Walnut Room.
The Narcissus Room where I saw many, many tearoom fashion shows through the years.
Since we would usually spend the day we would meet my Father under the clock at Randolph and State and stay downtown for dinner at one of our many favorite restaurants (I can do a post on those in the future, all are long gone!!!).
When I was growing up we also had a wonderful Field’s in Evanston and we frequented that often as well. I remember thinking I had my very own charge plate (yes, it was an actual “plate” that was a paper card encased in a metal backing!) that my Father would give me to use while shopping, he knew all the sales associates and gave them a wink to accept “my card” while shopping for treasured gifts for Mom, she, of course, had her own card but having Daddy’s was very special, it was mine!!!! My Father adored giving gifts (as well as getting them!!!) and often came home with a special surprise for no reason, it was magical. I can tell you most of them were from Field’s. One I remember fondly was a fabulous aqua suede jacket, pretty special when you are 8 or 9 years old.
Two of my favorite memories were watching the Kuklapolitan Players in the Children’s Theater (no adults allowed!!!) where I would sit contently watching Burr Tillstrom and his amusing players. It was several years before Kukla, Fran, and Ollie became household names on our television screens. I am very happy to report the Kuklapolitan family now resides at the Chicago History Museum. I had the delightful experience of meeting Burr Tillstrom on a Twentieth Century Limited train trip to New York many years after the show had ended. He was in the Club Car and I, very timidly, approached him and told him how much he had meant to my childhood. He couldn’t have been more gracious and we chatted over a drink…what a thrill.
Burr with Kukla and Ollie.
The Kuklapolitans in residence at the Chicago HistoryMuseum
My second special memory, I have many more to relate at another time, was in the gigantic book section, it covered at least a half of a floor. Adjacent to the escalator was the “counter”, more like a huge library desk, that housed all the best sellers of the week and the person presiding over this temple of knowledge was my “Aunt Harriett”. Harriett Smith was known to all authors and booksellers alike, they came to her to sell their new books and get her advice which she, in turn, gave to her eager clients. Well, by now, you know I am a crazy book person, I have been since birth. Since I wasn’t able to take gym in school due to my asthma I spent that time in the school library (Evanston schools were and are some of the best in the country and the school libraries are amazing!) and had books by the carload at home. “Aunt Harriett” was a very close friend of Mom and Dad’s, they had been neighbors in a brownstone on Astor Street when my parents were first married. Every time we went to Field’s my first stop had to be to visit her. She would leave me in charge of her “kingdom” while she went to the children’s book section to select a new book or two or three for me. This continued into my teens when I was reading the latest fiction along with Camus, Baldwin, Williams, etc., etc. She absolutely looked the part of a maiden aunt (I have no idea if she was or had been married) and what would have been our thoughts on what the appearance of a librarian should be (whatever that means!!!) I haven’t thought about her in years and for some unknown reason she came to my mind when I was thinking about the wonderful times I spent at Marshall Field’s in is glory days.
Can you believe this amazing Tiffany dome was covered over for years. Stand in the Cosmetic Department and look up, it is extraordinary…a true jewel. It is the largest example of Tiffany Favrile glass in the world with 1.6 million pieces of glass.
Marshall Field’s slogan, Give The Lady What She Wants, was most certainly true for this little lady long ago…it gave me everything I wanted in beauty, glamour, elegance, style, and excitement… gone, maybe, but the memories linger…nostalgia is always best!
The Field’s Special
Mom always ordered the Field’s Special and I would be given a small portion until I was old enough to have my own. when that happened I felt like a real grown up! I must admit when I go to Macy’s today I go to the Walnut Room and my order must be the Field’s Special. I am sharing the recipe below from The Marshall Field’s Cookbook , which I highly recommend you add to your cookbook collection…lots and lots of super recipes (including what started it all, chicken pot pie), great color photography and a short history of Marshall Field’s.
Thousand Island Salad Dressing (enough for 4 sandwiches)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup chili sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1/4 cup chopped dill pickle
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
For 1 Sandwich
2 slices crisp bacon
1 slice deli-style rye bread bottom crust removed
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 head iceberg lettuce
2 1-ounce slices Swiss cheese
4 1-ounce slices turkey breast
1 tomato slice
1/2 hard boiled egg sliced
1 pitted black olive
Butter bread and place on plate, place 1/2 separated lettuce wedge on top of bread, place cheese slices on top of lettuce, place other 1/2 lettuce wedge on top of cheese, arrange turkey slices on top of lettuce and pour 1/2 cup dressing over turkey and lettuce. Top with a slice of tomato, egg, and olive secure with a toothpick. Place 2 slices of bacon and rest of egg next to sandwich and serve.