Hahne's Ladies Keep the Party Going
Department store alums meet monthly to share stories and lunch.
Once a month a group comes together at the Windsor Diner in Clark, sharing stories and memories of a time when they felt going to work was spending time with family and having fun.
The group of roughly a dozen women all worked at the Hahne's Department Store on North Avenue until Lord & Taylor bought the store in 1989. In the 21 years since, the group has looked to recreate the lunchtime atmosphere they had when they worked at the store.
"The store when we were working there had a cafeteria downstairs, it became a family," Adelaide Wright said. "When we left we wanted to stay together. We had a much bigger group and one by one we are losing people."
Coming to the group's table, laughter comes from the ladies as they talk about the times at Hahne's, old customers and what they are up to now. Many remain active and in the community, shopping, seeing friends and enjoying a day around town. They said they continue to be recognized for their work.
"We meet customers we had in the store and they recognize us and still call it Hahne's," Marcelle McKeon said. "I go to the grocery store and people stop me."
Wright, who worked at Hahne's for 21 years, said that the store did not start out the size of the current North Avenue building, rather it grew over time. Due to that growth, the lunch goers said the staff remained close-knit and had a good relationship with management. They recalled former managers greeting the staff by name every morning and saying goodbye to the staff every night when they left work. Those who remained with Lord & Taylor said the environment did not remain the same.
"Back in Hahne's we were names," Dot Waugh said. "With Lord & Taylor we were what we produced that day."
In some ways the group's monthly lunch – the second Tuesday of the month – is a way to continue what they thought they once lost.
"When Lord & Taylor took over, the person came and had us come to the cafeteria," Wright said. "She put her hands on her hip and said 'the party is over.'"