Breslauer’s Department Store

Stevie and Gus Breslauer , of Breslauar’s Dry Goods, were like Ted Anderson, a Hyde Park institution. Their dry goods store was a classic period piece with bare wooden floors, 1910-counters and glass cases. Merchandise stocked hither and yon but Stevie, like Ted Anderson, knew where to find exactly what a customer needed. She always remembered customers, and their children, by first names. She was the female spirit of the Hyde Park Business and Professional Association. Always cheerful at their weekly Tuesday meetings – ready to offer any and all comers a generous dry martini.

In the 1960’s, Breslaur’s joined other Hyde Park merchants moving to a locally owned and managed shopping center at 53rd and Woodlawn. Now called “Breslauer’s Department Store”, the shop was a good deal more orderly, with proper dressing rooms instead of a curtained off area, modern show cases, yet retaining the postal substation.

On a trip to Chicago in 1978 I stopped to visit former clients from the Kimbark Plaza. Harry Weinstein and the “G” brothers had retired, Gabe’s Men’s Wear was no more, Ted was out for lunch but his right hand man, George, remembered me.

I walked into Breslauers, asked a sales clerk if Stevie were around, giving my name. She walked to the back of the store, Stevie enthusiastically called , “I’ll be right out” She came “right out”, with some physical difficulty: She had a stroke and was struggling with a walker. Her warmth and generosity had not tarnished. . We talked, how did I like California, did I know Gus was gone? and so on. “Oh, excuse me,” she said, like old times when i was selling an ad. I watched when Stevie approached the customer, hobbling along as if the walker didn’t exist. “May I help you”? she greeted then turned briefly to me, waving her arm, “It’s good to see you, Marylou.” Come back later when I’m not busy.” — like the old days.