Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Look Through Penney's Window...

…is a look into another world, one different in so many ways from the world we know today. For one thing, people tended to dress up – to visit relatives, to travel on a train or plane, and go shopping. Shown above, in two sidewalk-level views taken soon after its April 14, 1955 opening, is the J.C. Penney store in Plainview, New York. The interior decor is typical of new Penney stores of that era – pastel colored walls, white fascia boards with cutout-letter signage, delicately crafted displays befitting the company’s image as a leading merchant of soft goods.

As interesting as I find the architecture, interior designs and styles in scenes like this to be, I’m equally fascinated by the people in them. Were that not the case, I probably would have named this site “Retail Store Classics” or something along that line. Take the folks depicted here, for example. Whether they were paid models or actual shoppers (asked to “hold that pose”, of course) is probably unknowable and certainly irrelevant at this point in time, 56 years later. They were real people - with real lives and real hopes and dreams, long since realized or forever deferred.

The store was replaced long ago, the styles changed scores of times over since then. The youngest people in these photos would now be older than the oldest ones pictured. Just a couple of moments in time, long faded away.