Readers Forum: Kaufmann's memories

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

Pittsburghers have been shopping, and working, at Kaufmann's department store for decades. On Sept. 9, the name will be replaced with that of Macy's as the new owners try to create a national department store chain.

We asked readers to share their memories of shopping at Kaufmann's with us. Here's what they had to say:


What a wonderful department store Kaufmann's was! The owners had a vision of a store where one could buy everything from baby clothes to fine china and crystal, furniture, and of course all kinds of clothing.

In addition to providing a great place for customers to shop, Mr. E. J. Kaufmann also paid attention to his employee's and customer's health needs.

For many years, our mother, Mary McLaughlin Bonar was a nurse in Kaufmann's 'hosptial' on the 10th floor of the building, next to the furniture department. She was one of three full time RNs, the others were Nell Quinn and Betty Schwartz. Later Norma Adams added her talents to the nursing staff. Dr. Alfred Kamens M.D. was present several days a week to do employee physicals and to be a consultant for employee's medical concerns. Drs. Richard and Lawrence Wechsler also made important contributions to Kaufmann's hospital. The foot doctor and dentist were on duty one day a week. There was a 10 bed 'ward' as well as several private rooms where people could rest if they became ill while at work or shopping.

It was always fun to hear the stories at dinner about the things that happened that day at Kaufmann's. Some days they saw 100 patients! Some people had accidents, felt ill, went into labor, had a heart attack, or needed a prescribed medication. It was a regular medical clinic. Mary ("Miss Bonar") loved working there. She loved the variety that each day brought and she enjoyed the many friends that she made over the years. She retired in 1971 after a long and satisfying career.

Memories of shopping there with our mother are some of the sweetest memories, next to the graham cracker ice cream pie at the Tic Toc shop!

We each worked at Kaufmann's while in high school in the '50s at Christmas and over the summer at the service desk and another time in the handkerchief department where we had one handkerchief that cost $25.00!

Thanks, Kaufmann's, for such finery and for many fond memories.

-- Sheila Sullivan, Urbana, Ill.
-- Kate Eckert, Kennerdell, Pa.


My fondest memories of Kaufmann's revolve around the yearly international festivals centered on one chosen European country. Returning from classes at Central Catholic to Hazelwood, I would consult the newpaper ad I had clipped and see what activities I could still catch between buses. The store would have been transformed into a mini version of the "Old Country". Maybe a German wood carver today, or an Italian chef would be drawing a nice crowd. Now that was merchandising!

In my career I have been to 90 countries, but that was my first taste of the big world outside Pittsburgh.

Thanks Kaufmann's. Welcome Macys.

-- Bob Thompson, Hazelwood


I'm from McKees Rocks, Pa. Kaufmann's was a part of my life since the 1950's. I loved their bakery. I have never found a better ladylock, apple turnover, or cream filled coconut snowball. Kaufmann's catered to all shoppers; from the bargain basement up to the exclusive Vendome shop. I moved to Las Vegas in 1988. I was happy to find a Robinsons May store at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas. I felt at home cutting out my newspaper coupons to shop at a sister May Company store. I always found myself giving my coupons to tourists who didn't know there was an extra 15 or 20% off on their purchase. Since the Macy's Christmas parade is a tradition in New York, I hope they will honor Kaufmann's Christmas tradition by providing the beautiful window displays we look forward to each holiday season.

-- Deborah Vete, Las Vegas, Nev.


As I grew up in Pittsburgh, taking the bus with my mother from Highland Park to have lunch at Kaufmanns's, I thought nothing could ever be so elegant. Even many years later, when I got my first "real" job out of college as a buyer at Kaufmanns's, I thought that I would never need to shop anywhere else.

Good-bye old friend. The people of Pittsburgh (and those of us who have moved away) bid you a fond farewell. Thank you for everything.

At least now the people of Pittsburgh will be able to experience another fine retail experience when Nordstrom's comes to town (finally).

-- Adele Cannell, Chicago, Ill.


Kaufmann's Hornes and Gimbels. If anyone is truly from Pittsburgh, they know that the loss of Kaufmann's is the last of a trifecta that can not be duplicated. We may still have the Tree at Christmas, and the clock at 5th and Smithfield, but will we truly be able to "Celebrate the Season" Farewell Kaufmann's.

-- Paul Foster, Corona, Calif.


Eleven years ago my husband and I moved to Chicago. It is a wonderful city with a heart and soul much like Pittsburgh, which is where we grew up and lived most of our lives. Marshall Field's is a local department store that is also becoming a Macy's store.

Many Chicagoians feel that same way about Field's that Pittsburgers do about Kaufmann's. Having shopped all of the department stores in Pittsburgh, Kaufmann's has always been one of my favorites.

When I found out that Kaufmann's was being turned into a Macy's I decided I wanted to have some pictures of the store while it was still Kaufmann's. I had my son snap a picture of me in front of the Tic-Toc and Kaufmann's Clock.

Like so many other people who loved to shop the store, I had my adventures as a kid growing up in the Pittsburgh area at Kaufmann's department store too. I met friends under the clock, ate countless lunches at the Tic-Toc and carried home many apple pies from the bakery.

Whenever I shopped for clothes or shoes, I could always find just the right item at Kaufmann's. I took my children shopping there, and I always made a point to have lunch at the Tic-Toc with them, telling them stories of when I was a kid and came to the store.

At Christmas the children were always brought into the city to see the decorated windows. They were as delighted to see the displays as much as I was many years before. And they were even more delighted to ride the escalators to one of the top floors where all the toys could be purchased.

My family and I will always keep these memories of a grand, department store that was a Pittsburgh landmark.

-- Lorie Annarella, Chicago, Ill.


I remember when we were little, my parents would make it a tradition to take us kids to see the beautiful decorated windows. My mom would also take us to have lunch at the famous Tic-Toc shop. I will miss seeing the Kaufmanns name but I'll always have my fond childhood memories.

-- Lauren Regan, Sharpsburg


I have many memories of Kaufmann's. My first non-babysitting job was working at Kaufmann's one summer, in ribbons, ties and sheets. Our fifteen minute break was spent riding up to the balcony to buy a soft-serve ice cream cone (before Dairy Queen). Exciting. Like others, we would meet under Kaufmann's clock, especially since that is where I caught a street car to visit my Grandma. My aunt used to take me to lunch on the eleventh floor tea room and then to the fashion shows that were held seasonly. Then we would visit the display of Steuben glass in a special gallery on that floor. Browsing in the yards goods dept. was also a ritual, as well as checking out the special Christmas windows. I feel sadder about Kaufmann's passing over to Macy's than about our local Marshall Fields also passing into history.

-- Dorothy Jacobs, Grand Forks, N.D.


I think of my late parents when I think of Kaufmann's. My mother did a lot of shopping in Kaufmann's(as well as Horne's).She was a well know caterist in Pittsburgh. Some of her gourmet food was on sale at Kaufmann's epicure shop.

I still have the Christmas gift that I bought for my dad when I was very young. It's a ceramic hippo that you put your jewelry in. He use to keep his watch, cuff links and loose change in the hippo's open mouth.

We also did a lot of bargin shopping in Kaufmann's basement!

-- Bonnie Lewis, Penn Hills


I remember taking a streetcar from Duquesne with Mom to see Santa at Kaufmann's. In later years, we would take the bus, waiting across from the clock at the Mellon Bank. Back-to-school and holiday clothes all came from the store with the clock. My sister and I would save our dollars to buy Cherry Ames, the Dana Girls & Nancy Drew books in the 1st floor book department back by the Tic Toc Restaurant.

One year Dad, actually did some of the Christmas shopping himself and found beautiful beaded sweaters and bathrobes for us there -- not very practical, but we loved them! I remember mom calling the store to order things we saw advertised in the Sunday paper. Kaufmann's provided my first charge card -- it was just cardboard or such with a metal rim around it. A rather different memory is that of attending a conference held on one of the top floor offices for school newspaper editors back in '57. We interviewed singer Vaughn Monroe and I got to ask him a question!

I haven't lived in Pittsburgh for nearly 40 years, but a visit to the downtown store was a must whenever we returned! Now my younger daughter and her husband live in the 'burgh. When I visited them in December of 2003, we were downtown admiring the Christmas windows and then went inside. I steered us up to where Santa was and they obliged Mom and sat on Santa's knees for a picture with Santa to mark their 1st "married" Christmas. The name & the particulars of the store may change, but to many it will always be Kaufmann's!

-- Hedy Howe, Bellingham, Wash.


I hate to hear that Kaufman's will change names, but at least it will not be torn down or made into a mini mall, like the old theater. I used to love to browse in Kaufman's as a child. The perfume counters always had me "sniffing," the elevators run by real operators, the revolving doors and just the complete array of items that were sold.We didn't always have the money to buy items there, but just to go in was a thrill! One of the last true establishments in Downtown Pittsburgh!

-- Linda J., Watkinsville, Ga.


I knew it would come, but it still is sad. Kaufman's is SO much a part of my past. I have since left Pittsburgh and moved to Calif, but still went back "home" frequently, always including a trip to Kaufman's. My fondest memories are of working near Kaufman's and meeting my friends Teddy and Dalene, almost every day, under Kaufman's Clock to decide where to have lunch. We have Macy's here, so I am familiar with it. It doesn't hold a candle to Kaufman's. But I hope it keeps some of the traditions.

-- Sandi, Sacramento, Calif.


I haven't been in Kaufmann's in years. I have the same memories of Christmas windows, the candy department, and the book department as everyone else, but the picture I see when I close my eyes is the first floor and the mezzanine with chairs which were Art Deco, black and silver. Who knew that that could stick with a kid?

-- Anna Marie Mulvihill, Vienna, Va.


There are so many things that are synonymous with Pittsburgh. Kaufmann's is certainly one of them. I have not lived in Pittsburgh for 15 years now. Every time I would come home for a visit a trip to the Downtown Kaufmann's was a must. The Kaufmann clock has to be one of the Country's most notable time pieces, I can't tell you how many times I would designate the Kaufmann clock as a meeting place for friends and family. I have such fond memories of Kaufmann's at Christmas as a young boy. My parents would take us kids to Kaufmann's for Christmas shopping. I remember always sitting on Santa's lap at Kaufmann's. Pittsburgh is all about tradition. There are so many nostalgic places and memories for me, but Kaufmann's is one of the most meaningful.

-- Paul Pozeg, Ocala, Fla.


My parents Mary Jane and Chuck used to meet under Kaufman's clock. They were both students at Duquesne University. It was the late 40's. The name Kaufman's will always make me think about my parents. Thank you for giving me that memory!

-- Mary Hafenbrack, Coral Springs, Fla.


Kaufmann's was always the store with the Christmas windows, where we would get on and off of the streetcar and especially the store that smelled great.

When you walked into the store the combined smells of the cosmetic counters combined to give a calming effect and you knew you were in someplace special. Even the packed elevators gave you the feeling of being someplace special.

To this day when my sisters and I talk we will make comments that someplace or something smells like Kaufmann's. The store will be missed by all.

-- Susan H. Eisel, Kill Devil Hills, N.C.


My daughter and I would make an annual trek to Kaufmann's downtown, last minute Christmas shopping. We would ride the crowded escalator to the top, then work our way down.

Bargains were not a priority, only that we finished before Santa. If Mom didn't like the plaid knickers as much as we did, there was never a problem.

Thanks Kaufmann's -- for the magical memories

-- Bill Bensor, Clearfield


Kaufmann's will always be special for me. Most of my life I had lived on Long Island and we had always shopped in the department stores along 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan and at Macy's big store on Herald Square. In 1950 my parents retired and moved back to Waynesburg, their home town. That is where I was living when my husband and I decided to be married.

My husband was attending Waynesburg College on the G. I. Bill. He was almost finished with his course work and beginning a job search. For that reason we decided to be married between semesters, which gave us only about 6 weeks to arrange for the wedding. It was very important to my parents, however, that I wear my mother's wedding veil. It is a full length rosepoint lace veil which my mother had purchased in Venice, Italy, in 1922 for her wedding. The veil was taken out of the safety deposit vault where it had been stored and into Pittsburgh I went with it in hand. It had been carefully kept in linen and tissue but inevitably it had yellowed somewhat.

I really did not know Pittsburgh at all then and Hornes was the only store I knew anything about, so it was to Hornes I went. But when I showed the veil to the sales woman in the bridal shop and explained to her that I was looking for a gown to complement the veil, her first words to me were, "My dear, must you?" In tears I rushed out of the store and went directly to Kaufmann's.

In the Kaufmann's bridal shop the sales people were kind and completely understanding of my needs. In fact, they searched through sample gowns from the year before until they found one that had just the same touch of yellowing and arranged to have it altered to fit.

I never shopped at Hornes again and from that day forward shopped only at Kaufmann's.

-- Margie Baker


I grew up on the South Side. The biggest treat for me was riding the streetcar (then bus) with my mother to downtown. Christmas time was the best. Kaufmanns had the best Christmas window displays. I can still see them. My mother and I would then go to the candy department for a treat! When I started working, I would then meet my mother, you know where, "under the Clock". Good-bye Kaufmann's. Thanks for the memories.

-- Joan Cindrich, Boulder, Colo.


My parents LOVED to shop. At least once a month, we would make the trek to Pittsburgh. I, of course, have all the common memories of Kaufmann's: Christmas, the bakery, etc.

Ours was all about bargain shopping. Half the fun was finding something on sale. Then, it was the gamble of waiting until next week to see (if it was still there) if it had been reduced any further. This mind-set extended to ,what I remember as, one of the greatest shoe departments of all time. This was before all shoes were carefully displayed on the racks we are familiar with today. This is when all the pairs of shoes were held together with a string. All sizes of all available shoes were piled into several shallow bins in the department and you rummaged until you found something of interest. Ocassionally, the pairs became separated. Then, once you found that ultimate shoe in your size, you were forced to rummage around until you found the mate. Heaven help the person who just joined the game and happened to latch on to the very mate that another woman had been searching for for way too long. I have seen some real stand-offs. All the while, the spouses sat in the chairs scattered throughout the department and watched it all take place.

People who never experienced that shoe department can't even imagine those bins overflowing like fresh fish being dumped off a boat when it comes in to dock. It's something long gone in any store that I will always remember from Kaufmann's.

-- Andrea Ros, Moon


I loved Kaufmann's, especially the downtown store. It was my favorite. I remember doing my Christmas shopping there on the day after Thanksgiving, sometimes shopping more than twelve hours. I got my ears pierced there about 25 years ago. When I went to Pitt in the seventies, I used to stop in Kaufmann's every day, because I caught the Bower Hill bus in front of the store. In my mind, I can still see each of the floors, filled with exciting things to look at and desire. One holiday season in the mid-eighties, I worked at the Kaufmann's in Mt. Lebanon. I still have an old Kaufmann's brown and white charge card, which I'll keep as a souvenir. To me, Kaufmann's was a big part of the spirit of Pittsburgh. I have shopped many stores in many cities, from Macy's in San Francisco and Eaton's in Toronto to Harrod's in London, but there is no store that will ever compare to Kaufmann's.

-- Beatrice M. Hogg, Sacramento, Calif., (originally from Lawrence, Pa.)


My favorite memory of Kaufmann's is from a Christmas in the early 60's. There was nothing so magical as shopping there! When I was about 8 or 9 years old my mother took me to Kaufmann's and gave me some money so that I could do some Christmas shopping all by myself. I'll never forget the lovely woman who helped me pick out my gifts. I chose a beautiful green scarf for my mother that was boxed and wrapped for me. My mother loved it! In fact she wore it often and kept it all her life. I still have it today, a little worn, but it still looks beautiful to me. I think of my mother and that Christmas at Kaufmann's everytime I look at it.

-- Helen Cable, Toronto


I think I grew up in Kaufmann"s. My Dad sold uniforms there for years (police, fire, drum corps etc.), and men's clothing. We always went to see the Christmas windows, my first bike came out of a Christmas window. The ice cream cakes at the 11th floor restaurant, eating lunch at the Arcade. I remember when the annex was put in for men's accessories. In fact my first job was there selling men's ties, for 5 yrs. My first tickets to a Hornets game given to me by a Canadian hockey player, getting Bobby Layne's autograph (wish I had that one), seeing Phylis Diller shopping. Watching all the flags lower thru the windows in the annex when Kennedy died. And of course working the night the Pirates won the series in 60,and all the windows on 5th Ave. were boarded up. The best (after seeing the Xmas windows) was sitting in the 2nd story windows and watching a Drum Corps Parade down 5th Ave. that seemed to go on forever. I even remember the big strike in the early 60's. I have a picture of the Clock framed in my home. In those days, you knew everyone from the Pres. to the elevator people. So I have some very good memories of the store. I am thankful I kept my Dad's retirement card. Of course times change, but at least we get to hold onto the memories of our youth. Its sort of sad to know that the name has to change.

-- Karen Kelly White, Barstow, Calif.


As a youngster during the '60's, I remember my mother taking me into town almost every other Saturday. It was one of my mother's favorite things to do. We would take the bus early in the morning from our Elliot neighborhood and would have breakfast at Palmer's in the Jenkins Arcade. Then we would spend the rest of the day going between Kaufmann's, Gimbels and Horne's, along with all the other stores that are no longer there. We would ride on the "Golden Triangle" bus or trolley to get around town. As a young boy I wasn't too crazy about shopping in general, but going to the 'Tic-Toc' for a club sandwich and a milkshake was a real treat. The best time of year though was at Christmas, when I used to love to see all of the Christmas displays in the store windows. Kaufmann's always had the best. I just hope that Macy's would continue in this beautiful Christmas tradition so that today's and tomorrow's children would at least have a sampling of what past generations of children have enjoyed. It's just a shame that the Kaufmann name will no longer adorn Downtown Pittsburgh after all these years.

-- Joe, Wexford


In 1973 I moved to Pittsburgh to attend Point Park College. Many a free day from studies was spent wandering around downtown, and a visit to Gimbels, Hornes and my favorite, Kaufmanns. Saturdays were always a great day to visit and look around.

Eventually, getting a job dancing with PBT and CLO provided me with the cash to actually shop there. I recall buying some great home items for my apt. in Chatham Center.

I also recall riding the what seemed to be endeless escalators.

I eventually moved back to NY, and returned to Pgh. only once, in 1999,

I took a long trip dowm memory lane that weekend, and my final stop on my last day was Kaufmanns. It was a Sunday and I had the store to myself. I couldnt remember where anything had been, so I just wandered . looked around and was transported back to the 1970s.

Wound up in the candy dept, and made my last purchase, white chocolate covered pretzels.

I am sorry to see the name go, but I have my memories.

-- Thom Warren, Staten Island, N.Y.


I have very fond memories of Kaufmann's. Every saturday my mother, aunt and I would have lunch up stairs. Then we would go shopping. Those were the days when people dressed in there best clothing and most females, old and young wore white gloves. I have not lived in Pittsburgh for a number of years but I will miss the KAUFMANN"S name on the building.

-- Gloria, Palm City, Fla.


My mom and dad always made it an X-mas tradition to take us to Kaufmanns to see their georgeous window displays and to see Santa. That was many years ago, and my dad is gone, but the memories will never be forgotten.

-- Rose Costa Gold, Atlantic City, N.J.


Kaufmann's to me was the meeting place. If you were ever to meet someone downtown, all you had to say was, "Meet me under the clock" and they knew. It has been awhile since I have been in the store, I worked there in 1970 for the summer and I know things have changed. But when I think of Kaufmann's , two main things come to mind. The first is , that is where my late grandmother Lannie Anderson use to shop alot, especially for her grandchildren, and I remember the first time she let me use her charge card on my own. And the second thing is the Christmas season, they always had the most beautiful windows. They beat out Gimbles and Hornes. I as a child hated to leave ... . Gone is a name that will always be synomous with Downtown Pittsburgh.

-- Regina Oakes, Sandusky, Ohio


Kaufmann's reminds me of my late Grandmother.

As a child, I would spend the night at her house and on Saturday morning we would go downtown to shop. I remember the huge scale Kaufmann's had next to the escalator. So on our way up to The Tic Toc, my Grandmother decided to step on the scale. She was horrified at how much weight she had gained! Unknown to her, I had taken my foot and was pressing down on the back of the scale. As a 6 year old, I thought that was the funniest thing I could do to Grandma.

Some 30 years later, The Tic Toc is still a vivid memory. To this day, when I'm in my own kitchen and the sound of clanging pots and pans is ringing out, I think of The Tic Toc, breakfast with Santa and my Saturday shopping sprees with Grandma at Kaufmann's.

-- Karen Nuttall, Columbia, S.C.


I can remember going to Kaufman's to buy my first Christmas gift (a sweater) for my first girlfriend (Irene). It was the Christmas of 1957. What great memories. I've been gone from Pittsburgh for 41 years, but all the memories keep coming back. Sad to hear the store is changing owners.

-- John, Santa Rosa, Ca.


What about watching "The Guiding Light?"

I worked in Gateway Center and would not have been able to keep up with all those story lines if it weren't for the fact that all the televisions at Kaufmann's were tuned in to my favorite "soap."

The fans would perch on piles of carpet, eat their lunches, and share opinions and predictions. It was such a mixed crowd.

-- Patti, Bainbridge Island, Wa.


As a teenager I was the representative from my high school to the Fashion Board for three years. We shared opinions and trends and had fun. We took turns modeling in the teen department. Then my first job was modeling full time at Kaufmanns-mostly in their wonderful fabric department. Ofcourse most of my paycheck went right back to the store!

-- Mary Lou, Sanibel Fla.


In today's hectic world, shopping can become just another drudgery: push, shove, bump, oops, oh, let's get out of here. Sound familiar? One of the most enjoyable ways of turning shopping into a few tranquil moments is Sunday strolling through the various departments at Kaufmann's. Granted it wasn't the store's largest business day, but what a joy floating floor to floor in serenity. The atmosphere on Sunday could even affect your visual perspective and enable appreciation of the wondrous seasonal displays -- it's as though you were being transported to a fashion wonderland. Even the salespeople seem a little more courteous in this stress-free environment. If you haven't already experienced this contrast in shopping modes, give it a try, it may change the way you think about shopping in town. And by the way, there is plenty of "free parking" nearby on Sundays.

-- Victoria, Mt. Washington


I grew up in Oakmont during the late '30's and '40's. A trip to the city meant a bus ride and then a walk to Kaufmann's.

I can still remember the smell as we walked in the door: a combination of perfumes and food. Later, after I had graduated from college, I worked in the city for several years. A pecan ball at Kaufmann's was always the favorite pay-day treat. Best, however, was the wonderful book department where much of my pay check went. That was before the bookstore chains came to Pittsburgh and Kaufmann's more than made up for that lack. Now, many years later, I still treasure some of the "finds" from Kaufmann's. It was a great place to shop and browse.

-- Helen Lewis, Hillsboro, Oregon


My mother would take me to Kaufmann's every year to see Santa (I still have all the pictures) and then to the Tic Toc corner for a waffle (YUM YUM), at least once a month we would go to the doll department and I would drool(!!!) over the beautiful dolls there, I got my Shirley Temple doll there which I still have. I remember our first new sofa was a Franklin Sofa from Kaufmann's and mother was so proud to say it came from Kaufmann's. My first charge card out of high school was the Kaufmann's charge which I kept until the last day. My children use to cry to go to the Tic Toc Corner for ice cream pie so we would hop the bus and just go for a piece.

-- Joyce Rodgers, Bridgeville


My grandmother never drove. That was just the way it was back then. But she wasn't afraid to take the bus from Highland Park to downtown Pittsburgh often and that was always to go to Kaufmann's.

A special time that each of us grandchildren had with her was on our birthdays. Nana would make arrangements days in advance. We got up early, got on the 73 Highland and headed for downtown Pittsburgh and to Kaufmann's. We were allowed to pick out a new outfit as our birthday gift and then wrapped up our shopping day with lunch at the Tic Tock Shop Restaurant. I think we always got the Cream Cheese and Nutbread sandwiches, fresh fruit and sherbet. The day was completed with a viewing of a movie at the movie theater down the block. Not a birthday went by without our annual trip to Kaufmann's.

I now live in Minnesota and used to shop at Kaufmann's in South Hills Village whenever I would return for a visit. It's a shame a store with such a tradition is leaving Pittsburgh. It was always a tradition to go to downtown at least once during the holidays to see the "windows" and to make a donation to KDKA's drive for Children's Hospital at one of the windows. I'm glad to hear that the new owners are going to keep the clock. It has been a constant part of Pittsburgh's culture for years.

-- Marsha Bible, formerly of Highland Park and Mt. Lebanon


Our maternal grandmother lived with us and worked as a Kaufmann's Shopper for 20 years, commuting weekdays on a bus from Washington, Pa. She and the other Kaufmann's Shoppers had a small office in the store, but people would also phone her at home for merchandise, and often picked up their orders at our house. She always arrived on the evening bus from Pittsburgh with several shopping bags in hand, and what she couldn't carry was delivered to our house, or directly to the customer, by Kaufmann's delivery trucks. The irony never escaped us that the regular driver on our route was Mr. Box!

Our day long trips to Kaufmann's with her were a real adventure. From the display windows to the toy department (was it on the 7th or 9th floor?) to Kaufmann's having the best Santa in town (and delicious scallops for that special occasion celebrated in the 11th floor restaurant) the good memories live on. Needless to say, our family's loyalty to Kaufmann's extended well beyond our grandmother's shopping days.

-- Robert Donnan, McMurray


At the age of 16 Years in 1944 I received My first Job as a Package Delivery Person at Kaufmanns, and I will never forget it,it was a wonderful job.

-- James Flodine, Level Green, Pa.


We were too poor back in the '50's to actually shop in Kaufman's, but Mom used to take the 4 of kids to town on the bus to see the Christmas windows. They were so beautiful. And, of course, who could ever forget that wonderful clock!

I sure hope Macy's decides to keep it, so Pittsburghers can continue to meet "under the clock" for many years to come!

-- Janice, Weston, W.Va.


I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, but my parents were native Pittburghers, so we made trips to the city often when I was little. When those visits included Kaufmann's, I recall being awed at the size of the store and loved taking trips up and down the escalators. I also enjoyed weighing myself on the giant scale near the entrance to the parking garage bridge. Later, while attending Pitt, Kaufmann's was the place to go for Christmas shopping trips.

I hope that Macy's delivers on their promise to maintain the Christmas traditions, as I'd love to share the experience with my daughter who is almost 3. There is no way to explain the difference in visiting a real downtown department store, as opposed to a mall store, without experiencing it yourself.

-- Dan Wyszomierski, Houston, Texas


Remember Kaufmann's slogan, "Everything Under the Sun." Sometime in the 1930s, a customer decided to challenge the store, and requested an elephant. Kaufmanns promised to procure an elephant if the customer could pay the extreme expense of buying, and shipping the beast to Pgh.

The customer, of course, demurred.

My dad was a buyer of housewares at Kaufmanns, and my aunt was Executive Secretary to Mr. Irwin Wolf the Treasurer.

-- Jim Weixel, Rockville, Md.


Kaufmann's, Gimbel's, and Horne's were the big 3 downtown when I was growing up during the 60's. My first pair of Levi's, and other school clothes that I purchased on my own came from these stores, after taking the bus from Blawnox to the Stanley theater. Now that I now live in a rural area of Texas I look fondly back on those trips and how much I enjoyed riding these store's escalators.

-- Ed Murray, Buna, Texas


I am from Germany and spent the year 2005 in Pittsburgh, which was just wonderful for myself and my family (Thank you, Pittsburgh!).

Over here in Germany we do not really have the extensive "malls", so Kaufmann's department store in Pgh downtown reminded me of old fashioned, European-style stores in vibrant cities with pedestrian zones and shops. And even as a foreigner I could feel the intense emotional connections many Pittsburghers had, and probably still have, to "Kaufmann's".

By the way, "Kaufmann" is a german word, and one translation is "merchant".

-- Uwe Werner, Frankfurt/Main, Germany


My parents believed in giving their three girls the best that they possibly could. In particular, they wanted us to have good shoes to take care of our feet, so we always shopped at Kaufmann's for our shoes -- school shoes, Sunday shoes, Christmas, Easter. Miss Rose always gave us an expert fit. A trip to Kaufmann's was the springboard for every special occasion.

Christmas was always a magical time. I remember me and my sisters sitting across the street at Palmer's restaurant. We were eating our cheeseburger, french fries and milk shake combo and looking out the window at Kaufmann's beautiful storybook windows. It was Christmas, we were eating, we were happy, safe, and anticipating all good things to come. For a kid, it doesn't get much better than that. It's good to remember.

-- Monica, McDonald, Pa.


As a child growing up in the Pittsburgh area life was enjoyable my father worked at J & L steel in Aliquippa and his job as a steelworker and my mother's job as a school teacher provided the money to take care of a family of five.

One of the places that provided the luxuries in the area was Kaufmanns the big downtown department store full of staples and many luxurious imports the memories included the big ornate clock at 5th ave and smithfield and the type of atmosphere that made you want to buy something in the healthiest department store between new york and chicago.

I now live in philadelphia and the same thing is taking place here with the transition of the stores but Kaufmanns has touched many of the people of the area it has a rich history in the development of the city and the area and the name will be missed.

I have lived in philadelphia for 26 yrs and i use to work in the strawbridge & clothier dept store and they sold out to may co and it has been down hill ever since but i think macys will try to do their best to integrate themselves into the pittsburgh fabric, boscovs is very strong and has a lot of the same qualities as kaufmanns.

Will be sorely missed but definitely not forgotten, who could forget the chocolate cookies from the bakery on the arcade and santa at christmas and the decorations and the very large crowds it will happen again and the beautiful big building lets hope for the best.

-- Keith, Philadelphia


Call me unsentimental. Or maybe desensitized to the passing of yet another great Pittsburgh brand.

Shortly before Christmas in 1964, I plopped onto Santa's lap at Misco's department store in Braddock. I asked Santa for a red wagon. He delivered. The next year, Misco's closed its doors forever. I knew the real Santa had been right there at Misco's, and I was crushed. Somehow I survived that trauma to adulthood while watching Gimbels, Isaly's, Claber's, Kroger's, Grant's, Eastland Mall, street cars, Forbes Field, Pitt Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium all pass from the Pittsburgh scene.We will get over this, people! At least the grand old Kaufmann's clock still ticks at the corner of Fifth and Smithfield, albeit soon under the legendary Macy's banner. Changes downtown could be much worse -- as in W.A.L.M.A.R.T.

-- Dan Skantar, North Fayette


My mom never drove a car. That being said, we were always in town shopping. My most memorable with Kaufmanns was my visit with Santa Clause and having my ears pierced there on the 1st floor. They haven't pierced ears for years. Kaufmanns did away with that along time ago!

-- Linda Mazefsky, Munhall


Well, when I was a little, as my friends, we got dressed up with my parents, took the 26 westpark streetcar, and went and bought my school clothes, pants, shirts, ties, shoes, etc and my late father Robert Sr. bought a suit- then we dined at (MICHAELS), and at Christmas time my parents took me to see the displays. Another time they played SANTACLAUS. now that we are adults, my wife and I do a bit of shopping at Kaufmann's and really enjoy the atmosphere of the city-and dine downtown.

-- Bob and Sue Harrer


The famous saying "WE'LL MEET UNDER KAUFMANN'S CLOCK" was forever in my vocabulary. I can remember as a child having my mother take me on a bus to meet relations under the clock and go to the Tick Tock for lunch. As a child, this was the highlight of the day.

When Kaufmann's closed their fur department, I was the first in line to purchase a fur coat, with my fathers charge. How excited I was to own that coat as it came from KAUFMANN'S. To this day I still have that fur coat, and cherish that forever. A little hot in Florida, but would not give it up for anything in the world.

Hopefully the clock will stay -- an maybe Macy's can make their memories.

-- Lois M. Sherry, Delray Beach, Fla.


What ... no mention of the "Tic Toc Shop"?

How can the restaurant's name be left out of all these Kaufmann's memories!

Eating there after shopping was just as much of a tradition as meeting under the clock.

-- Joann Cantrell, Pittsburgh


My late mother was raised on the South Side and went to both Pitt and Margaret Morrison College (now part of Carnegie-Mellon University). Upon graduation, she became Edgar Kaufmann's personal secretary. I remember that when they built Kaufmann's garage, she would get special parking privileges from the manager of the garage at the time, a gentleman named Ralph -- who also had worked personally for Edgar Kaufmann.

-- Andy Klein, Squirrel Hill


Although I no longer reside in Pittsburgh, I have many warm memories of shopping at Kaufmann's. I can't list all of them, of course, but here are a few.

I still get a smile whenever I recall my shopping 'expeditions' with a friend; after work we headed up Fifth Avenue to Kaufmann's where we would start on the first floor and work our way up to the top floor where the dining room was located, ending our evening with a lovely meal. I remember one memorable shopping trip when my friend bought herself a mink stole, then feeling a little guilty for having spent so much money on herself, bought her husband a pair of socks! We still laugh over that one, and I am sure her husband probably never heard this one which is why she shall remain nameless!

Kaufmann's is where my husband and I bought nearly all of the furniture with which we furnished our first home together, and in fact, we still have most of it despite a couple long distance moves to two different states.

I have shopped in some wonderful department stores over the years, and Kaufmann's was usually the "Gold Standard" I used to judge them. I am truly saddened to see this great store being swallowed up by yet another conglomerate -- sorry Macy's, that's what you have become.

Last but not least, Christmas will never be the same, in Pittsburgh, without the wonderful holiday window displays.

I will cherish, even more, a lovely print titled: "Under Kaufmann's Clock," which was given to me as a gift by one of my sisters. Goodbye Kaufmann's.

-- Leona Elro, Edison, N.J.


Say it isn't so! No more Kaufmann's? I was just reminiscing about Rosenbaum's, Horne's and Gimbel's the other day, now I need to add Kaufmann's to the nostalgia list. I can still picture the revolving doors, the first floor and the narrow escalator with the wooden steps. The Christmas window displays. And "I'll meet you under Kaufmann's clock" was a part of everyone's vocabulary.

-- Michael Pastor, Greensboro, N.C.


This is the first place I took my youngest brother Bryan Keith Walker to see Santa Claus, I remember how excited he was, and how beautiful the store looked with all the decorations. Bryan is 33 and a High School History teacher now. Unfortunately nothing stays the same.

-- Ellen Whitehead, Garden Grove, Calif.


My mother was a frequent daily shopper at the store in Monroeville. At her funeral we all joked when she died that "Kaufmanns would have to close their doors". That was twenty years ago and shortly after, the store in Monroeville closed. I will always remember going to the store for clothes etc and then being treated at the "Clock Restaurant". A great store and the employees were so helpful and truly appreciated our business. The down town store was a treat in the early 50's especially the toy dept with the train layouts, Santa etc. The store and the times will truly be missed. It was a joyous event in my childhood, teen years and college years to shop at the store. The greatest times spent with mom was at the store.

-- Dan Witko, Gering, Neb.


Hi, my mom was borned and raised in Pittsburgh, married my dad in 1943 and moved to N.J. We returned every summer for a family reunion, this went on for 58 yrs until my parents became unable to travel anymore.

Every summer, the highlight of the trip was to meet ALL of my Aunts under the clock for a shopping day and lunch at Kaufmann's ... one Aunt came from Glasssport,one was a Sister of Mercy so she came from where ever she was teaching at the time,one came from Carrick. It was a joyous time for us all.These are memories I will never forget.I now live in Virginia,and still go to Pittsburgh frequently to visit. All of my Aunts are now deceased but those times I will never forget. I have a replica from Hometown Collectibles, of Kaufmann's at Christmas and one of the Clock on my mantle. I will never forget those wonderful times.

-- Karen Burroughs, Moneta, Va.


Back in the early 50's, I worked for Blue Cross in the Union Trust Building and watched the daily process of adding on to Kaufmanns store from our window on the 2nd floor. My desk was right there and we saw everything that went down the avenue, including General Eisenhower when he was running for president. We spent most of our lunch hours walking through the store. Then, of course, there was the famous clock. Everyone met someone there every day. The pass word was "Meet you under the clock" and every person in Pittsburgh knew it was Kaufmann's Clock. Oh what happy memories we have of the store.

-- Barbara Hammond Pyles, Greer, S.C. (formerly of Mt. Lebanon)


The only trouble with the 'past' is that it has 'passed.' The good thing about the 'past' is, like Kaufman's, is that it will not be forgotten.

-- John H. Hunt, Lexington, Ky.


To me it's always going to be "Under Kaufmann's Clock."

-- Bob, Shaler



You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here