Thank you, everyone, for discovering and visiting my new blog, Vanished Chicagoland Stories. I will start by writing my first story about my memories of Gatelys Peoples Store. Once located at 11201 S Michigan Ave in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. My family and I moved from South Shore to Roseland in June of 1969, 50 years ago this month. My father owned the property at 11135 S Michigan Ave and, it was a shoe store called Schiff Shoes since 1965. Our apartment was right above it. My mother wasn’t happy living there. She wanted a house with a backyard and a garden. My father explained to my mother that we are staying here temporarily for a few years. Truthfully, I was glad we stayed there because we wouldn’t have discovered Gatleys.
I remembered the front and revolving doors as we entered inside. Most of the departments that I remember were the jewelry section. There was a revolving Timex display. It lit up as it was turning, displaying the beautiful watches. I bought my very first one there. The next thing was when we bought school uniforms, located on the 1st floor. I also remembered the tobacco section next to the staircase. I remembered the cafeteria and the enormous book selection there next to it. The second floor had women’s clothing and furniture and, I saw Santa Claus there for the first time. I afraid of him, but he was very nice to me. There is a photo somewhere in my house with Santa Claus, my brothers and me. I looked very nervous in that photo. The third floor had appliances and TV sets. Some of the colors TV ones like Zenith, Motorola, and Admiral were beautiful. I don’t know what was on the fourth floor or there was a fifth floor. Someone who remembered can tell me.
Next was the basement. The basement had a grocery store. My mother told me most of the items there were expensive, but also shopped at the A&P at W 112th St. The National Foods Store at Roseland Plaza was at 115th St & Michigan, where DeKoven Drug Store was there too. The basement at Gatleys had a toy department which I loved very much. It had the Tonka toys on display. There was a popcorn machine there too and, it smelled so good. A lot of people on Facebook remembered the donut machine. The donuts were on a conveyor belt, rolling down like it was on a roller coaster and, they would drop in the oil bins were there being cooked and fried as the customers, and I was observing them. It was fascinating to watch and, the donuts were fresh and delicious.
We moved out of Roseland in September 1974 and moved to Ashburn on the southwest side near Ford City Shopping Center. Gatelys closed in 1980, and the neighborhood changed drastically over the years. There was another store in Tinley Park that opened in the mid-1970s and stayed opened until 1994. The building in Roseland is still there and smaller shops opened in recent years. The building had a fire on June 7, 2019. The Gatelys sign has been salvaged and stored in a safe place. The store is gone now, and few years before that, the parking garage too. Who knows what will happen to the property, and is still a vacant lot. People from Roseland and the South Side miss that store tremendously. Whether they took the 34 Michigan streetcar or bus, the South Suburban Safeway Bus Lines, which traveled you to downtown Chicago very conveniently, or if you drove there and parked at the garage in the back of the store, that place was unique at the time. I doubt we will get another department store like that one anymore. We all miss it very much. Well, that the end of my first story. I hope you will like it and please spread the word about my new blog. Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.