Farewell Old Friend

This article appeared in the Dayton Daily News on January 11, 1992

FAREWELL OLD FRIEND

Glory that was Rike’s will soon be gone but not forgotten

by Roz Young

 

            One Sunday after church four of us stopped in at Lazarus downtown for a farewell luncheon in the dining room.
            Decay had already set in. The waitresses wore black dresses with white aprons. We remembered the cheerful yellow costumes the waitresses wore when Lazarus was Rike's. Paper place mats spread out over bare wood tables; we remembered cloth table cloths and napkins. We remembered decorations of other years; now the walls have several years' grime on them and little else.
            Each spoke of memories of the glory that was Rike's.
            I remembered Marianne Woolery in the book shop. She had golden hair and bright blue eyes, and she loved books. She knew all the customers and what they liked and if a special book came in she thought one of her customers would like, she put it back to show him or her.
            Winnie the Pooh was first published in 1926. I found a copy at a friend's house and fell in love with Winnie and all the animals in the enchanted wood. The first time I went downtown to take a music lesson after discovering the book, I went into Rike's book shop and met Marianne. That is how I happen to own first editions of Winnie, Now We are Six, The House at Pooh Corner and Toad of Toad Hall. If Milne had written 100 more Pooh books, I would have bought them all.
            I began stopping in at the book shop every week after my music lesson, and when I grew older and went downtown every day to high school, I stopped even more often.
            I was starting my junior year in high school when one day I saw sitting on a table in the shop a life-size Raggedy Ann doll. I had worn out my first Raggedy Ann years before. This one looked exactly like the original ones with the yarn hair, the shoe-button eyes, the pinafore, the red and white striped stockings and the black boots. Only she was fully 5 feet tall.
            "How much is the Raggedy Ann?" I asked Marianne.
            "Sixteen dollars."
            My heart constricted. It doesn't sound like a high price now, but this was 1929. The fare on the streetcar then was 5 cents; the plate lunch in Rike's dining room cost 25 cents. "I would like to have her," I said, "but I'll never have that much money."
            My allowance at that time was $2.85 per week. Out of it I had to put 50 cents in the bank and a quarter in the Sunday School collection. Streetcar fare to school was 50 cents a week, my lunches at Rike's cost $1.25, and after school my chum Alice and I always went into the soda fountain and had a Coke. They cost us 5 cents a day. That added up to $2.75. That left me 10 cents for all my other expenses.
            "You could save that dime every week for the doll," Marianne said. "Let's see how long it would take to save enough." She took a pad of paper and a pencil from her pocket. "At 10 cents a week you could save $16 in 160 weeks. That's about - let's see now - 30 months or two and a half years. You could have the Raggedy Ann some time during the summer before you go to college. She would be nice to take along with you."
            I shook my head. "I could never save that many dimes. The money would get away from me. And even if I could, somebody is sure to come along and buy the doll before then."
            Marianne looked at me. "Tell you what," she said. "If you want that doll, I'll hold it for you. You bring me a dime every week and I'll keep it in a special place, and when you get enough, Raggedy Ann will be yours."
            So that's what we did. I gave her a dime every Monday, and she stowed it away somewhere. The month after I graduated from high school Raggedy Ann was mine. She went all the way through college with me, and to summer camp every year and for many a year after I began teaching she sat in a corner chair in my bedroom.
            Why did Marianne bother? She did it for the love of books and to encourage a gangly teen-ager to love books and because she was a special person.
            Hundreds of older Daytonians who remember Rike's in the old days can match this story with one about one of the sales staff who went far out of the way to serve. Rike's was a special place and even though in its last days the glory and the beauty are gone, many will grieve over the closing of the doors on what was once a splendid, lively part of all of us.