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Friday, 23 December 2016 10:18

Enduring memories: Through a child's eyes

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Walworth County board supervisor Nancy Russell looks at downtown Lake Geneva shop windows during the holiday season. Russell remembers looking at the big department store windows decked out for the holidays in downtown Chicago every Christmas as a child. Walworth County board supervisor Nancy Russell looks at downtown Lake Geneva shop windows during the holiday season. Russell remembers looking at the big department store windows decked out for the holidays in downtown Chicago every Christmas as a child. Terry Mayer photo

We seem to hold Christmas memories — the nostalgic, the sweet, even the sad — dearer to our hearts. Maybe that’s because this is a time of year that pulls us closer, makes us feel connected to each other. And when we asked area residents for their favorite Christmas memories, they were happy to share:

Christmas through a child’s eyes

For Nancy Russell, a longtime Walworth County Board supervisor and Lake Geneva resident, a Christmastime tradition growing up in Chicago was peering in the fantasy-filled windows of big downtown department stores decorated for the holidays:

I’ve lived in Walworth County for over 40 years, but I was born and raised in Chicago.

“When my sister and I were very young, my mother would take us on the bus, elevated train and subway ‘downtown’ to walk up and down State Street and view the Christmas windows in every store. There were a lot of great stores then: Carson Pirie Scott, the Boston Store, the Fair Store, Goldblatt’s, Sears and the biggest and best of all, Marshall Fields. Usually there was a theme or story that the big stores carried out through each of their windows, and it was different every year. We’d watch children, elves, animals, snowmen, trees and clocks moving separately and within the exhibit. Then we’d decide which windows we liked the best or if last year’s were better.

“Most of all, we looked forward to seeing Santa Claus at Marshall Fields, because I believed he was the real Santa and all the other store Santas were his helpers. He was beautiful in a dark red velvet suit, sitting on a raised platform, everything decorated as only Fields did.”

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