‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through downtown,
Not a creature was stirring, Elm Street was shut down.
Oh, the road? Sure it’s open – try to cross if you dare –
But most of the widows and store fronts are bare.
But how did this happen? How come commerce went south?
The street seems so empty, so down in the mouth.
Where it once teemed with shoppers, now it reeks urban blight.
The crowds? They’re all gone. They’ve vanished from sight.
Friends used to converse under streetlights, on curbs.
Now the folks there at night time? The word is “disturbed.”
While shoppers would prowl for gifts on the shelves,
These people just mutter and talk to themselves.
It used to be different. Shopping downtown was fun.
And so what? You got snowed on before you were done.
You’d bump into old friends, bundled up for the cold.
“Want a sip of my coffee?” “If it’s hot, then I’m sold.”
Familiar acquaintances, chatting and mingling,
Backed up by the sounds of cash registers jingling.
You could catch up and gossip, get shopping advice.
“There’s a sale on at Stratton’s.” “Those new dresses are nice.”
“You want a good tip? Try the neckties at Barton’s,
and if you want argyle socks, go directly to Martin’s.”
“Go to Nugent’s for nightgowns – Hey, there’s Anne at the bus stop! –
but for real buys you should try the P&Q Men’s Shop.”
Carroll’s Cut-Rate? A must. A new book? Go to Goodman’s.
“And make sure you remember to get more film at Woodman’s.”
“A tool box?” “Got to Moreau’s.” “Hunting knife?” Mickey Finn’s.”
“Hey, what’s at the State Theater? Think we can get in?”
“Pariseau’s second floor? Elevator or stairs?”
“We can always try Leavitt’s and then go to Zayre’s.
“For suits, try Ben Richards. You can’t beat their styles.”
“You nuts? Go to Easler’s! It’s better by miles!”
“As for me, I like Floyd’s. You’ll never do better.”
“Except for Pandora. Just check out this sweater.”
“For the wife?” “That’s a toughie. Wow, you’re on the spot!”
“How ‘bout, a ring from Desjardin’s? Or Pearson’s? Or Scott’s?”
“Nylons from Machinist’s? Undies from Bell Shops?”
“Hey pal, she’s your wife. Better pull out the stops.”
“Corsets from La Mode? Or high heels from Satter?
A mink stole from Crawford’s?” “The price doesn’t matter.”
If you don’t mind driving, you could try Mammoth Mills,
Or make like West Siders and shop Forest Hills.
While parents were shopping, kids clamored for treats,”
“We’ll stay out of your way if you just spring for eats!”
We’d have a dog at Perillo’s or a Puritan shake,
How ‘bout doughnuts from Cheddie’s? Or that Mayflower cake?”
Go to Chime’s? Or Kay’s Kitchen? The Alibi? No, Good Earth!
Have some Chinese Chop Suey with your seasonal mirth.
We’d have baked beans from Levi’s while shopping for Dad.
“Kennedy’s has those white shirts. Or would he prefer plaid?”
“I know he’d like loafers. What about Thom McAn?”
“They have ox blood and brown, but he prefers tan.”
“A pen from Llewlleyn’s? R.G. Sullivan stogies?”
“Hey, Larry’s Manhattan has felt hats like Bogie’s!”
Now those mem’ries grow faint. Yes, they’re fading with time.
Guess it’s only nostalgia that’s fueling this rhyme.
There’s no more Beauregard’s, no Varick’s on Elm Street.
By day, banks and law firms. At night? Kids with rap sheets.
Where’s old J. Ferretti’s? The fancy fashions at Hill’s?
Tell me, what good is Christmas without all the frills?
No Lynch’s or Bon-Ton, Newberry’s or Woolworth.
So we pray for the Bookery to trigger a rebirth.
Where the heck are the shoppers who once decked these halls?
They’re shopping on Amazon, or bound for the malls.
But think for a minute of all that’s we’re losing.
Pray tell, what good is Elm Street if it’s only for cruising?
Let’s bring retail back, let’s fight the good fight.
Happy Christmas to all, but to malls? A good night!