Shared memories of Minas




  by Susan Bieber, activities director at Regency Place of Dyer with Pat Kincaid, PastTimes coordinator | Posted: Sunday, May 9, 2010 12:00 am

Edna Ecklund, 98, walked 15 minutes from Lansing to save enough money for a car.

Lucille Downey, 91, rode the bus from her home in Hammond.

Their destination was Edward C. Minas in downtown Hammond where both were employed - Downey in ready-to-wear (coats, dresses, slacks and jackets) and Ecklund in millenary (hat department). Now residents at Regency Place of Dyer, they recall and share fond memories of their days spent at the grand, historic store. Ecklund recalled going into Chicago on a buying trip and picking out hats for her customers. She also remembered that if she left the store for lunch, she wore a hat.

Both women worked throughout the 1940s, '50s and into the '60s at the downtown retailer. The department store was the "it" place where mothers would bring their children for new school clothes and shoes.

"It was the Marshall Field's of Hammond," Downey said. "My mother would have my special occasion dresses made, but the fabric always came from Minas."

This day, they each sported a brimmed hat, Downey's royal blue with geometric hat pin and Ecklund's classic black with striped hatband. Family members from Lansing and Munster had brought the hats for them to model.

Ecklund remembered manager Miss Blus' strict but very good ways. She told about being instructed to tuck hanging price tags to the inside, so that hats could be tried on and viewed without seeing the tag. Ecklund's self-imposed challenge was to get every customer to smile before leaving the store.

"We wrote cards to our customers twice a year," Downey said. She loved selling clothing. She remembered repeat customers requesting her assistance. "I worked five days a week and loved every minute of it."

Because the store's furnishings were so exquisite, wood cabinetry with sliding doors and ornate drawers, a visit was quite an experience.

"It was always neat, clean and like 'stepping into another world' through the doors to the store," Downey said. Both mentioned the sales staff wore only black or navy blue except for July when they were allowed to wear lighter clothing.

"I loved my job. I'd go back today," Ecklund said. She remembered once being out of town on vacation and having a Minas customer come up and greet her. They remembered when fashions from Minas were sought after by local clubs and organizations for yearly style shows. Both helped to dress models for those events, sometimes held off the store premises.

They remembered Mr. Nelson, the window trimmer ,was so particular and Bill Stump, who assisted him. Mr. Jensen oversaw the fabric department. They mentioned their employee lunchroom was a small cafeteria with two women who cooked for them everyday. And when the parking garage was built, employees parked on the fourth floor, leaving the lower levels for customers. Both agreed their experience as sales persons at Edward C. Minas was wonderful because the store, fellow employees and managers made it a great work environment.

Copyright NW Indiana Times Newspaper


Lucille Downey shows off her
royal blue, wide-brimmed hat with its black-ribboned hatband and geometric hat-pin.



  Hohman - 1930s   Hohman - 1940s   Hohman - 1950s   Hohman - 1960s  

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