Long before Wal-Mutant came to Gloucester and quite some time before Country Casuals took up shop down past Fleets, Fosters Department Store was the place to be if you needed clothes but didn't want to go across the river to town.
That just now came back to me--that we called Newport News (the closest urban area) "town." As in, "We're going to town this weekend to shop at Nachmans or Thalhimers. Possibly Leggetts." Nowadays if you say you're going to town, people think you mean the court house, also known as the village. Interesting.
Anyway, Fosters sat directly across from Richardson's Drug Store in what is now called the Halcyon Building. Quite honestly, even though it says Halcyon Building in plain print right there in the photo, I've never, ever, never heard a soul call it the Halcyon Building.
To me, it can only be Fosters.
Fosters was a multi-level department store loaded with clothing of every possible description. But if I ever purchased anything there, I don't remember it. I didn't go there for the clothes.
What I do recall is the rich, earthy smell of that old building; the well-worn, green carpeting that went up the old wooden staircase, whose steps creaked and moaned as you climbed up; and last but not least that cash register.
The huge antique cash register at Fosters was like a museum exhibit--that was 100% functional. I'm convinced I made trips into that store just to study that piece of art. When I grew tired of that, I'd slowly ascend those steps, savoring each and every creak.
When Fosters went out of business, my number one concern was for that cash register.
I wonder where it is now.
For Mathewsonians, do you have any Fosters stories or memories? Did you also say, "going to town" to refer to Newport News? I still say "going across the river" but not "going to town." That needs to change.