The Gold Room

When I was a kid, my mom’s mom worked at the Gertz Department Store at Mid-Island Plaza (now Broadway Mall) a few blocks away from her house in Hicksville, New York. Good thing the mall was so close, as Florence didn’t drive.

She worked in The Gold Room, where ladies’ gowns were sold. I’ve always had the impression Nanny was very good at her job. She worked there for years.

Among my memories of Nanny’s working in the Gold Room are the Clorets gum she always had at hand. I suppose she’d pop one in to freshen her breath at appropriate times. Clorets was an interesting brand, because it was initially sold during a “chlorophyll will freshen your breath” phase of the American market, which, according to quick web search, was in 1951. I used to conflate chlorophyll with chloroform, which appeared in entertainment media poured onto a cloth to hold over someone’s mouth and nose to make them pass out. It was confusing to this kid as to why that stuff would be in a gum.

Clorets' current packaging.

Sold as a hard shell covered chiclet, well, like Chiclets, in a Chiclets-like flat box that would rattle when Nan would offer them to us kids on occasion; these Clorets weren’t a candy. She treated them like they were a tool needed for her job helping ladies buy gowns.

Another memory related to her job was what were called the “smelly cards.” These were promotional postcards doused with perfume. Nan would have some of these at her house, wrapped in plastic, I believe. My sisters and I enjoyed giving them a whiff, comparing the different products. Did Nan dab herself with a card at the store as an inexpensive way to smell like the fragrance du jour?

So one day a while back, I’m replacing a wheel on the cedar chest I inherited from Nanny, and stuck underneath is a postcard I immediately recognized as one of the “smelly cards.”

Worth Parfum Je Reviens postcard

Worth Parfum Je Reviens postcard reverse

The card must have been lodged under that chest for twenty five years. I like the drawing, and wonder who drew it.

1 thought on “The Gold Room

  1. Pat Palmieri

    I really enjoyed this vignette about your mom’s mom and her job at Gertz. My mom
    and I shopped at the Jamaica store and I think there was a Gertz in Douglaston before
    it became Stern’s and then Macy’s.

    You might find information on that card at the New York Historical Society.

    All best, Pat

    Reply

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