113 Year Anniversary Memories


Do you have Greenbaum's-related memories you'd like to share with us and have included on this webpage?  Maybe it's a favorite memory as a child - or you can ask your mom and dad what they remember about Greenbaum's.  We'd love to hear from you!

If you have a memory to share, please send it to us via email and remember to include your name and the subject line "113 Year Anniversary Memories".  All submissions may be edited.  Thanks!

And now, for some memories....

•  From Ann Scott:

When I was a teenager in the late 70's and early 80's my mother would take me to Greenbaums to pick up notions primarily for hand sewing, mending, etc. Once I had taken "Home Ec", I became very interested in sewing. I remember coming in to Greenbaums and being fascinated with a kit on display on the wall that could be purchased to make a down vest, complete with packaged goose down in the kit. Every month when Mom and I went to the store, I looked at that kit hoping one day I could afford to buy it but at the same time feeling a little trepidation that I might not yet have the skills to complete it.

When I returned to Salem last year after living almost 25 yrs in NC, my BROTHER (of all people) suggested I go to Greenbaums when I had mentioned to him that I wanted to do some quilting while I was here. What a transformation! Yes, the store looked and smelled familiar but the fabrics and quilts were something to be dazzled by! It was almost like being in a candy store, but much, much better!


•  From Irene Greenbaum Depenbrock (Sylvia's mom!):

From 1916 this store was like a second home to me. All it took was mother’s permission and five cents for car fare and I had safe transportation from home to store.

The store looked very different in those days. The shape of the front windows was the same and the two front doors, but little else.

The south window always displayed men’s wear. The center window was for millenary and the north window contained women’s and children’s things.

To reach the millenary department you walked straight through the main building, thru the archway into the warehouse. An old wood stove was the only heat. There were tables of lovely hats and three or four ladies decorating more. That was always the busiest place in the store, because every lady and every girl wore a hat.

In the main building the men’s and women’s departments were divided at the center front window by shelving and counters. This division ran clear back to the shoe department where the sexes came harmoniously together.

The shoe department was my favorite spot. It had such a wonderful and beautiful ladder. The ceiling was a good six feet higher than it is today. I loved to climb those pretty little light oak stairs that ran so smoothly along a little metal rail. They were just wide enough so I could sit on any step I wished. I would climb to the top and look all over the store. Then it was easy to grab a shelf and pull myself along the full length of the track. No one ever forbid me this pleasure.

If the shoe department was busy I could fill the spool cabinet with black and white cotton from the coarse #8 thread on the big spools to the very fine thread on the little spools. Today it sits in a place of honor high on the south wall.

Speaking of old time items that long glass display case that sits in the shop today holding numerous small items once was along the north wall of the old store stretching from the front door to what is now the play room. It held baby things, yarn, and hosiery – wool & silk (no nylons). There was cotton hose too, but that did not need to be kept under glass. If my memory serves me correctly, the best silk hosiery was called “La France” and sold for $2.50 a pair – several days pay for a clerk.

One item that stays in my mind was sheeting. I don’t know if there were ready made sheets or not, but I never saw any. Sheeting came bleached or unbleached in widths from 54” to 91” and designated by the number of quarter of yards in its width, 9/4 was the normal double bed size. Those bolts were terribly heavy, the ladies beautified their beds by buying pillow tubing and having them hem stitched. They frequently crocheted pretty borders.

The last thing I want to mention about the old store is the row of tall thin mirrors along the south wall. There must have been a dozen of them and they remained there until my brother changed the dry goods store to a fabric store about 1948. Their purpose was to allow the men to try on nearby hats or neckties or other attire close by and then check their appearance.

Oh yes! We needed lights. Gas lanterns hung from the ceiling. My father lit them with a lighter wand and put them out with a snuffer pole.


•  From Patricia Gattfried:

Art Gattfrried bought tennis shoes at Greenbaum’s for 49cents in the 1930’s, then they went up to 59 cents.


•  From Maridee C. Nye - Albany, OR:

What I remember about Greenbaum’s: When I was a very young child (probably 5 or 6) my mother would take me to Salem to visit her parents, but we always had to stop at Greenbaum’s to visit with an elderly gentleman and some of the clerks.

My mothers name was Mary Wisner and she was the milliner in the store before she married my father in November 1915. In reading some of her memories, she worked in the store from early 1905 until her marriage.

Later when I was in my teens and could drive a car, she would ask me to take her to Salem so she could go to the store to visit with “Adolf” and a clerk named “Fannie.” This was in the thirties. I always loved to go as I loved fabric and was Home Ec major in school. I remember the rows of fabric, the high ceilings with I think were tin. When I was raising my own children and working full time I had little time to frequent the store. But I knew it was still there.

Since I retired in 1982 I have frequented the store many times and always enjoyed shopping there. Lots of times you can find something there that you can’t find elsewhere. You can usually find me there on the third Thursday of the month as I love their free quilt seminars. By the way, I’m 82 years young and sill going strong.


•  From Sue Ellis - Albany OR:

My favorite memory of going to the shop was this:  It was a day where I had had to take my mom to the doctor. She has Alzheimer's and the doctor was just trying to help her to be more comfortable, but it was a saddening experience for all involved. I was very tired after taking my mom back to her care center.

Since I was already in Salem, I decided to stop by the "Forest" to just be surrounded with cheerfully colored cloth, quilts, and the eye-candy of fat quarters.

Stepping into the shop, it felt as if I had entered a time-warp. There was soft music, many happy customers, and an eager staff. I stopped thinking about sad things and just calmed down. After touring the shop looking at fabrics, books, and cute little projects, I began to feel more rested.

Thank you so very much for creating a place that is truly a refuge for the fabric artist. It is refreshing to enter your space and be so encouraged. I appreciate you!


•  From April L. Wicker:

It's been a week since the Winter Retreat and I am still excited by all I saw and did that weekend. The time away from ordinary concerns reinvigorated my desire to sew. I even tried free-motion quilting for the first time last weekend! I liked it!

Mostly I want to thank you and your staff for the wonderful experience. Everyone was helpful, encouraging, and just plain nice.

But-the most heartfelt thanks go to you. I won the "Date with Kaffe" basket Saturday night. The fabrics, the magazines, the patterns, the video and the basket are all wonderful gifts. Thank you for putting together such amazing prizes and an all-round superb retreat. I plan to attend again!

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240 Commercial Street NE - Salem, OR 97301
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