Date With Grandmother Grace

Date With Grandmother Grace

It was the middle of June, finally warm days in the Pacific Northwest. Sister and I had a date with Grandmother Grace. She would be escorting us to town today. We had been looking forward to this outing for some time now.

We carefully dressed for the occasion. One could not go out with Gramma Grace, as we called her, without being properly dressed to her standard. For her, this meant a dress hat, and of course gloves.

For us, this meant white gloves and our Sunday shoes. We fiddled with each other’s hair and created a bow of braided ribbon to clip in our hair. We each had a small purse with hankie inside, extra bobby pins, and ribbon.

Transportation would be by a city transit bus, a 30-minute ride. Once we got off the bus, it was just a short walk to Second Avenue and the department store, where we planned to have a fun afternoon.

Rhodes Department Store, a downtown landmark in Seattle, Washington, took up more than a third of the block and was six stories high. It had a bonified tea room on the mezzanine that was a real delight.

Stepping just inside the doors from the street, I could immediately hear organ music playing. Just to my right, I noticed large floor urn planters greeting us with dark green foliage spilling forth. I could smell sweet-scented perfumes strangely mixed with freshly brewed coffee.

I noticed lights hanging from the ceiling all around us. I was attracted to the shiny glass display cases which had brass lamps on top. There were several high fashion displays that stood toward the center as well.

A staircase in the shape of a horseshoe went up on the right side and down on the left. Once on the mezzanine, there were small tables with chairs arranged along the sides of the stairs and down the middle of the floor.

Each was set with a crisp white damask tablecloth and napkins. Pretty silverware and glass goblets for water, plus a little vase of baby’s breath and violets adorned each table.

We were served tea right away. Soon small triangle-shaped sandwiches of cucumber, deviled ham, and egg salad were served. There were buttered scones and raspberry jam. A dessert of fresh strawberries and cream finished the meal.

While we sat there enjoying our lunch, we were serenaded. Beautiful organ music floated around us, provided by a very nice silvered-haired man.

After lunch, Gramma Grace escorted us over to one of the huge brass-looking elevators. Once on, the elevator lady asked those on board, “What floor please?” And as we neared each floor, she would announce what we could find there.

We giggled as we rose up, up, up to the fourth floor, which housed Rhodes’ famous children’s toy department. A magical place for us.

A lovely day, a lovely memory. Thank you, Gramma Grace.


Sharon Smith was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (USA); owned a healthcare uniform business for many years. She also lived in Japan and presently resides in Michigan. She blogs about her experiences and shared observations touching on culture, lifestyle, and the people around her.

Sharon Grace Smith, author

A Place Called Home - A Memoir is Available Now

A story of faith, family, and one woman's path toward finding herself and her future by opening her home to strangers.

3 thoughts on “Date With Grandmother Grace”

  1. Lovely…brought back many memories for me…thanks Sharon. As far as more recent memories before Covid, it made me want to to go to Van Maur in Laurel Park and listen to the pianist…maybe soon?

    1. Thanks, Kathy, I am happy you enjoyed my memory. I was challenged by my writing group to share some memories from childhood.

  2. Marci Kobayashi

    I didn’t know about Rhodes until you started writing this post. Of course, I enjoy learning about your childhood. Getting to know a little Seattle history this way is an extra bonus. I look forward to reading many more!

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