Bio Note: Last week I read an article about the transformation into a condo building of Pittsburgh’s iconic department store, Kaufmann’s. It triggered this memory of the 14 floor store (14th was offices only, I think) that loomed so large in my childhood.
I loved taking the escalator in Kaufmann’s Department store. Wide gaps in grooved metal steps, meant mom always called out warnings to hold on and not let anything on my person shoelaces, long dress hems, dangle where those moving steps fold into one another, lest I be drawn in and Die A Horrible Death. Escalators were just one risky part of an entire world was that waiting to swallow me up at the smallest misstep. At age twelve I was allowed to go downtown alone to shop I loved to take the escalator to watch the merchandise counters disappear from that odd triangular perspective as I held tightly to the handrail, exalting in the frisson of fear present in all risky undertakings. Once, just for fun, I rode up all thirteen floors from first floor perfumes to last floor furniture, gawking at ladies and men’s apparel, toys, books, housewares, and more in between. However, whenever I felt tired, or unsure of my shoelaces, or my hands were full of packages, and I could not grab the rail, I took the elevator. Even now I try living that same balance for what worth is daily life without some risk?
©2021 Joan Leotta
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