When I first moved to Hamden, 38 years ago, there were lots of little locally-owned stores.  We had Cobb’s, a stationery store that sold pens, art supplies and greeting cards.  I could get lost in there for hours.  There was Richard Thomas, also in the Hamden Plaza, my go-to dress store.  I still have some of those Belle France dresses – waiting for a granddaughter or grandniece who wants to play dress-up.  Not that my grandson couldn’t dress up in them, of course.

belle france

It was the pre-Walmart era.  We had a Sears in Hamden, and of course Caldor and Bradlees.  They were quite Walmart-esque, but without the political scourge.

There were no cell phones.  There weren’t even any cordless phones!  It was all landlines with long curly cords.  No personal computers, no internet.  What did I do with my time?  Well, I had little kids in the 80s and early 90s, so that kept me busy.  I’d like to think I read actual books, but I am pretty sure it was more like People Magazine.


I did a lot of recreational shopping.  No Amazon!  When my then-husband watched football on Sunday, something that triggers a vile hate in me, off I went for retail therapy.  He was supposed to be watching the kids.  Of course he was!

Even the joys of shopping have changed.  I had a mad love affair with Nordstrom for many years.   I always found cute outfits for work and for casual wear as well.  They used to carry lots of tencel clothing – perfect for work yet comfortable.  They had Fresh Produce clothing:  great colors, sooo comfortable.  They had their own brand of sleep shirts, which were thick enough not to show anything but so incredibly comfortable to wear.  I treasure the ones I still have (which are over 10 years old), as they exist no more.  Nordstrom changed – a lot.  Or maybe I did, but I can’t find anything there even when there is a major sale.

FP Tshirt                                 Nordy sleep shirt

                Fresh Produce t-shirt                                                             Nordstrom Sleep Shirt

I can still find Fresh Produce clothes on the internet, but they have changed their ways.  They have fine ribbing which means they cling.  Yuccch!  The same thing happened to Life Is Good t-shirts.  They were a perfect cotton texture that had a little bit of stiffness to it (again, cling-proof), but they changed and they deny it (of course I wrote and demanded an explanation, to no avail).

Citron was a brand of clothing that I loved, and I had a beautiful dress made by that company that I wore to my second son’s Bar Mitzvah.  I loved that dress.  Citron still exists, but for some reason they changed all of their designs to an Asian theme, with lots of stereotyped prints of pagodas and geishas and icky dragonflies and scratchy silk.  I keep looking for the Citron of yore, but it’s not happening.


Citron dress (mine was similar)

All these changes are very hard to take and cause me to go into deep denial.  No matter how many times the bra of my dreams is discontinued, I never give up hope.  I find a new ideal bra, only to have that one discontinued too.  Even if I buy a dozen, eventually the elastic gives out and then it’s on to the next ideal bra, each one less ideal than the one before.

The same goes for makeup.  I loved the Revlon Eye Smokers, so away they went.  Then I found them in the dollar store – how perfect is that?  Bought as many as I could but now they are all just little nubs.

Ebay has been a godsend for some of these vanishing items, but so many good things have come to an end.  Even food items!  Pepsi One recently bit the dust, after months of our scouring various supermarkets to score 2 or 3 bottles at a time.  Lifesavers ButterMint – the best!  But I haven’t seen them in years.

I have to admit that some of the changes have been wonderful.  My children!  My second husband!  My daughters-in-law!  Redoing my kitchen.  My job.  My doggies. And of course, my adorable grandson!

Getting older means there will inevitably be changes.  As I look back, I can’t believe how many I have already lived through, but at the same time, how many things have stayed the same.  Still driving cars, taking trains, taking planes.  Still takes the same amount of time to get from CT to New York or Philadelphia.  Still coloring my hair the same old way.  Still wearing glasses, as I have been since I was 8 years old.  Still washing clothes the way I always did.  Still gardening the same way, except now my son digs the holes for me!  Leaves still need raking, house still needs dusting, food still has to be cooked (although…microwaves!).  I wish some of those things would change!

2 thoughts on “Ch-ch-changes

  1. I very clearly remember the shops in Hamden. My family was rooted in West Haven/New Haven, and we spent a lot of time in that area even after we moved. I’ve also had this sad realization that what I love has been discontinued. For me, it was Gap Long and Lean jeans. They were my favorite fit of all time, and they disappeared! I looked it up online to see what had happened, and I discovered they’ve been dubbed “mom jeans”! I guess it makes sense that I loved them so much, being a mom and all, but to be fair, I loved them years before kids came along! So sad…


  2. Loved this! Most of this brought me back to my own childhood, I LOVED caldors and bradlees!! My mom would always bring us there. I know what you mean too about falling in love with a product only for it to be discontinued – it’s happened to me as well many times and it’s infuriating! If I knew that the product was going to be discontinued I would have at least appreciated advanced notice to stock up, you know??


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