Monday, April 16, 2012

He Had A High, Squeaky Voice

Amazingly, this isn't actually a ghost.  Roberts' Shoe Store still exists and still sells shoes.  But those signs are just too good to leave out.  It's right next to the last trio, right at Chicago & Lake.  Roberts' offers "Happy feet for all the family," with helpful musical notes that sure make the sign looks like it's from the Singing In The Rain era of the early 1950s.  I can almost hear Bing Crosby singing the jingle.

The store was founded by Nathan Roberts in 1937, and carries very, very large All Stars.  It's also apparently the place go if you like really, really old shoe fitters, as their's averages 32 year experience.  Old Nathan bought the store after the previous owners went bankrupt in the Depression (the Great one).  And yet everyone in the neighborhood was apparently working at the time.  Hm.

What is now the Midtown Tower, and now houses Midtown Global Market used to be a Sears (if you look closely you can still see "Sears Roebuck" over the doors), is down the street.  Sears closed sometime before 1982 as part of the neighborhood's overall decline before a more recent resurgence.

Check out some old pictures of the building in 1956, 1956 at night and 1951.

Maybe even better than the Roberts' sign is the one to the immediate right of the tree in the middle, which says "Meats."  Maybe I'll go by again to see if I can get something more identifying, but I like it anyway.  There might be another sign just above that too, but I can't read it.  There is definite paint on brick though.

Finally, take a gander at the awnings on the Lake Street side:

UPDATE: Sam's question in the comments got me looking for a recording of the jingle from the first sign,  which took me to an old recording of a radio show from local legend Steve Cannon from 1957.  Around 8 minutes in, there is a singing weather ad from Roberts' followed by copy from Cannon.  Unfortunately, they don't seem to sing "Happy Feet for All the Family."

I remember Cannon as having the afternoon drive time show on WCCO for years and years, but I didn't know that before that he was at WLOL, which was the hip pop music station of my youth (now long gone).  Listening to him in the 1950s is like a recording from another world.  I particularly liked how he broke in to tell the ladies that it was hot enough that they didn't need wear their seamless nylons.  I'd assume that was a joke, but it still says something about the times.

I'll post another update if I find audio of the jingle.


  1. Sam - Your question got me looking, which took me to an old recording of a radio show from local legend Steve Cannon from 1957. Around 8 mins in, there is a singing weather ad followed by copy from Cannon. Unfortunately, they don't seem to sing "Happy Feet for All the Family." I'll post a link in an update.