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."