IL Brokerage Store year end awards dinner
hosted by management at the DeSoto Hotel in St. Louis, MO.
This is just one table of the employees or husbands/dates of employees from Mt. Vernon
who attended in December 1950.
Back row: Lilly Parsons, Irma Standridge (head cashier for many years),
Doris Casey, two IL Brokerage Staff members of St. Louis office, Bill Tom McGehee & friend.
Unidentified shoe department manager, unidentified lady employee,
Leota Kinison, Jean Crowder, Lionel Harsbarger (husband of one of the employees),
Lila Gerard & husband.
Bonus awards were given based on our individual sales for the year
(and/or performance if one was a cashier).
Often they gave gifts for outstanding performance (sales topping previous year's, etc)
such as silverware, luggage, electrical appliances.
At this time, 1950, I remember they had 22 stores in the mid-west.
They were started by a Jewish immigrant, Papa Greenberg,
who arrived in Chicago with just a scant few dollars in his pocket,
who went to work in a clothing store.
Through hard work and savings he bought his own store and
the rest was history.
Their buyers went to the big clothing, shoe manufacturers,
fabric manufacturers in the country buying close out's, seconds, samples, over runs, etc.
The stores were great places to shop for poor and moderate income families.
Those days (in the late 40's) you could buy well known brand of shoes for $3.00 a pair,
or less if you wore sample sizes.
My heart would literally bleed at the financial constraints of some of the customers.
They would bring their children in to buy school clothes for the year.
Most of the girls got two cotton dresses (or yardage to make them),
one pair of shoes purchased really big for growing room, one cotton slip,
a cheap coat and hat.
The boys usually got two pair of jeans, a shirt or two, one really big size of
shoes for growing room and a cheap coat and hat.
Some of the mothers would have the money tied up in a handkerchief
(sometimes hidden down in her bra). This was probably egg money saved over the year.
We sold lots of yard goods as women sewed a lot in the 1940's and 1950's.
I remember my first pay envelope (paid by cash in those days), I made $2.45 for 8 hours
of very hard work (after fifty cents taken out for union work permit).
When the east side of the square burned in December 1950 a lot of us stood
on the courthouse lawn and watched and cried.
WMIX was broadcasting from the site. I can remember our wonderful old store manager,
Mr. Jack Bennett, with tears running down his face.
The best I recall the fire was started by a faulty furnace in a liquor store in the same block.
The IL Brokerage opened again in a building on 10th Street.
Because so many of our customers had their Christmas presents in Lay Away,
we cashiers were asked to come in and try to identify people who did not have
receipts so we could make some sort of adjustment to them.
Our regular customers became like friends and we tried to remember just
what they had put in lay away.
Later, in 1951, when the store was in full operation our Retail Clerks
were chosen to strike.
Glassmen's, The Mammoth and other stores were under the same
contract but I guess they figured we old IL Brokerage clerks were
tougher and could withstand the pressure of a strike.
I remember well someone standing on the roof of the drug store on the
corner shooting a BB gun at the legs of our strikers who were picketing
(most of us wore dresses in those days even on picket line).
We didn't get much help from the Mt. Vernon police at that time.
After that strike was over the head office of the company never treated us the same.
I don't know when the store left Mt. Vernon as I left in 1952 and I don't know if
the Greenberg Corp. is still around.