The Jan. 19 letter by Peggy Gutshall about the William F. Gable Co. Department Store brings back many fond memories.
Collectively the people of Altoona should write a book about Gables.
A trip downtown started with a ride down 11th Street on the streetcar. It was often filled, so we kids would stand in the back. As we approached 11th Avenue, it was time to get off the streetcar to begin our adventure "up the avenue."
We were greeted with the wonderful aroma of fresh roasted nuts coming from The Nut Shop. We'd go past the bank, the outdoor vegetable stand and a couple of theaters, and then there was Gables.
Mr. Little, a tall handsome man, was at the door to welcome you. I don't know what he was paid, but he was worth a million bucks. I guess he was the official greeter. He probably unlocked the doors in the morning and locked up the store at night.
My wife tells of her mother wearing high-heeled shoes, a hat, and gloves when going to Gables, and I guess everyone dressed to make a fine appearance.
In addition to the departments that Gutshall mentioned, there was the grocery department with a corner counter filled with dried chip beef, and nearby there was even a shoemaker shop that actually smelled like leather.
Don't forget my favorite department, the toy shop upstairs. At Christmastime, there were about a half-dozen Santas in various stores, but the real Santa was always the one at Gables.
I was fascinated by the toy train display; I could watch them for hours. I may be mistaken, but I seem to remember a rickety, old wooden escalator that took you up to the arcade.
When Altoona had a parade, the best spot to watch was on 11th Avenue in front of Gables. The Mirror always seemed to carry about eight pages filled with ads from Gables.
One Christmastime in 1945, my one uncle was just back from the military service, and he got a temporary job driving a big dark green Gables delivery truck.
Being 13, I sometimes was invited along. As we approached the destination of a customer, we would call out as loudly and slowly as possible "Gaabblleess," and often the residents would get to the door before we had a chance to ring the bell.
Gables, like all the other downtown stores, was open six days each week. Only on Mondays did it stay open through the evening.
When they turned out the lights and locked up the William F. Gable Co. Department Store, they closed up downtown Altoona.
J. Hubert Ream