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When Goldblatts closed, Hammond lost a part of its identity

When Goldblatts closed, Hammond lost a part of its identity

Times Capsule

Readers of The Times on Oct. 31, 1981, received a large dose of bad economic

news: Gas prices were headed up, the state faced a cash cut and there was new

agreement that the country was in a recession.

But, for some, the worst news was the continuing problems facing the

Goldblatts, owner of the flagship department store in downtown Hammond. The

company already had filed for bankruptcy and was closing down the fourth floor

of its Hammond store. The next year, the entire store would be closed, the

final remnant of downtown Hammond's storied past.

Jim Thorley grew up in Hammond in the 1930s and has fond memories of the

downtown with Goldblatts and all the dime stores and movie theaters. He

remembers going to the eye doctor's office above Kresge's and getting his first

pair of glasses.

"He had a window facing Hohman, and he said, 'Here's your glasses, take a look

out the window.' It was like looking at another world. Everything looked so

good," he said. "But look at Hohman now. I don't recognize any of it. All of

Hammond is closed."

Thorley and his friends used to walked from North Hammond or take the streetcar

downtown. The driver, Thorley said, used to make him stand on the platform

because the motion made him sick.

Holidays were a special time when it was a tradition to go see the windows at

Goldblatts and the other stores. "Everybody decorated," Thorley said. "Every

store and every bus."

The Goldblatts building had stood on Hohman Avenue since the 1920s, when it was

known as the Lion's store. Goldblatt Brothers Inc. bought the store in 1931 and

retained control until the store closed in 1982. It reopened as Guinta's bazaar

a year later but was left vacant in 1991.

In 1992, the city decided to raze the building.

Janet Bradshaw also grew up in Hammond and spent a lot of time at the store.

"Everybody met under the clock on the main floor," she said. They had a

beautiful clock. If you had a date -- whether it be with a guy or a girlfriend

-- it was 'Hey, I'll meet you under the clock.'

"They also had a wonderful deli with great ham and cheese and breads. It was

wonderful. I hated to see those things go."


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