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Friday, August 15, 2008

Musings About Eibands

When I was growing up in the 1950s, Eibands was a magnificent, impressive department store in Galveston, Texas. As a child of 8-12 everything looked larger and sounded more wonderful than it was to a grownup. I imagined that the store stretched from one end of the block to the other. That's the way Eibands was to me, especially the days before Christmas. I can still hear those sounds of Christmas music in my head from the speakers above the sidewalk.

My mom and dad took us three kids downtown each Christmas to watch and listen to the colorful animated store displays. The movements were intricate, and the sounds of the Christmas songs were piped out to the spectators on the sidewalk. There was an excitement in the air as I watched the figures rotate their eyes, heads, and arms slowly from left to right, and right to left again. My face pressed against the glass, as if to think I could get closer to the figures. The music was twinkly and bell-like, as though the sounds were coming down from heaven.

The individual displays were larger than life in my mind and filled most of the front glass windows of the store. There was a religious display with the Nativity scene of Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, and the animals in the stable; a display of Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and their elves making toys; and, a display of children dancing and opening their presents around a Christmas tree. It was a special event that I looked forward to visiting for several years, and the memories of wanting to repeat the experience were in my head long before the time came to visit Eibands again.

It is important now to travel forty years in the future to the Bell County Museum in Belton, Texas where my family visited the Christmas exhibits in the 1990s. Lo, and behold, there were the same displays that I enjoyed so much in my childhood as I stood in front of Eibands in Galveston. It was an out of body experience, a deja vu. My eyes blinked. My face did a double take, wondering, "Were those the ones? Could those be the same figures I enjoyed so many years ago?" As it turned out, they were the same, and I was so totally amazed and awed.

I can still dream and hear those magical sounds and see the seemingly real-life movements of the figures in the displays of the storefront windows from long ago. It is amazing how our memory can trigger such joyous and pleasurable occasions from the past. I never want to lose the ability to retrieve those precious moments in time.

Eibands is no longer a four-story department store in Galveston, but the building on Post Office Street in the Strand Historic District still stands. It has been resurrected to lead a new life as condominiums for people who wish to call Eibands their new home. Perhaps you can go there someday and relive the memories of the past.

6 comments:

  1. Linda - When I was writing my post on stores of yesteryear, one of the web sites I found also mentioned that a lot of the Christmas displays from my child hood were placed in a "museum" of sorts for people to enjoy. I'm glad some of those old displays are still around. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  2. Your story reminded me of getting to go on year to Marshall Fields in Chicago just before Christmas. I was an adult, but it was still a great experience. I'd never been to a big city department store at that time of the year and it's one of my favorite holiday memories.

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  3. My grandmother was Ida Eiband. It was so nice to here your story. My mother has told me lots of stories about the wonderful store. After hurricane Ike I have thought a lot about the history of Galveston. I am thankful the memories live on..

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  4. My grandmother was Ida Eiband. My mother has told me wonderful stories about the store. After hurricane Ike I'm glad the memories live on...God Speed

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  5. My grandmother was Ida Eiband. My mother has told me wonderful stories about the store. After hurrican Ike I am glad the memories live on...

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  6. Amazing reading your comments today-4 years later. I often feel nostalgic about my Eibands experience and Galveston, Texas. I was BOI (born on the island) in the 60's and lived there until college. Eibands remains in my mind a beautiful and magical store unlike any other. My family was poor, but I still managed to shop at Eibands for myself and family members. On my lowest days I'd skip middle school classes with a dear classmate and head for downtown Galveston and mostly Eibands to find peace and solace.
    Eibands saved my life during my difficult teen years! I'll always cherish the memories of Eibands Department Store. Bless the Eibands family always! Lee Lee

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