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Monday, August 15, 2016

The "Mother Knows For Better Clothes . . ." Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sometime in the early 1950s and Easter was fast approaching.  I was a choirboy in the St. James Boys Choir and since Easter was just around the corner I was in need of a new suit to wear on Easter Sunday.  Never had a suit in my life, but my mom and dad thought it was time for a "dress-up" suit.  My mother was a stay-at-home mom, as were just about all women with children, and my dad was a watchmaker and salesman at Meiskey's Jewelry Store in the first block of West Chestnut Street in downtown Lancaster.  We lived in a semi-detached home near the train station that sat next to a printing business.  What mom and dad lacked in monetary income they more than made up for it in their wanting the best for their two young sons.  So, to buy the suit I needed for Easter, they took me to Robert Hall.  
Robert Hall on West Orange Street
Robert Hall was located at the fartherest end of West Orange Street, right where it met Columbia Ave. which was also known as Route 30. For those readers who are too young to remember Robert Hall, it was a national clothing retailer who was famous for their plain stores full of clothing racks that offered budget-minded buyers reasonably well-made American clothing.  We entered the main door and headed to the right where the boys and mens clothing was located.  I was in awe of the place and could hardly believe I was going to get my first real suit.  I tried on a few suits and mom and dad made the selection for me.  I could hardly wait for Easter so I could wear my new suit.  But, that's not where it stopped.  Seemed that just about every year, depending on how fast I grew, we made another trip back to Robert Hall for a new suit for Easter.  Well, Robert Hall stores are long gone, having declared bankruptcy in 1977.  
Newspaper Advertisement for Robert Hall
Another part of Americana that is only a memory for me.  While doing some searching for this story I found a few neat items about the store that I never knew before.  Things such as their clothing was made in America, they were the first big-box retailer in the nation, most suits came with two pairs of pants, and the founder and head of the company wasn't named Robert Hall.  Guy by the name of Jacob Schwab was the founder and he just "plucked the name out of the air."  Now, there was also one thing that I will never forget and that was the jingle that I heard year after year on TV commercials.  But, the funny thing is . . . as I was writing this story I asked my wife what she remembered about Robert Hall and she looked at me and said, "Did you hear me singing the Robert Hall jingle on the phone the other night.  I was talking to Sue and we were both talking about the place and were singing the jingle together!"  I looked at her and said, "That's really strange because I didn't hear you!"  Now how strange is that?  Mental telepathy I guess.  Been around each other too long.  What is the chance I would decide to type a story about my first suit at the same time she and Sue were talking about shopping at the same store?  Anyway, I have added the catchy jingle at the end of my story for you to hear for yourself.  And . . . I believe one of the stores pictured in the commercial is the store where I got that first suit.  Another coincidence?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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