The Old Atlantic Mills StoresWhen I was a boy we always shopped at the Atlantic Mills Department Stores. These were like the Kmarts of today. They offered a good variety of goods plus apparel for the whole family.
When I was 12 years of age i did go on a shopping excursion with my mom. It was during the summer so i didn't need to miss out on going to school. I remember it was in July and my sister's birthday was on the 18th of the month. My mom asked my older brother to go with her but he wasn't interested, then it fell to me. My mom hated shopping by herself. Once we got in the car i was told we were shopping for birthday presents for my sister and that it may take awhile. She said she wanted her to get some clothes and some toys as well. The drive itself took about an hour, so as we traveled I began to think what would she like to have. I had seen quite a few of the pretty dresses that they sell there but not much of the toy department. I wondered what besides all the dolls would be in that secondary girls department. I knew she liked one of my dolls, maybe they had one like it I could get for her.
Soon we arrived at the store. The building resembled an old airplane hangar with it's rounded roof line except in front was an arched glass entry way with two sets of double doors. We parked the car across from the hoarders of cars closer to the doors. My mom's car was new and she worried about someone hitting it or running one of the shopping carts into it. Upon entry into the store my mom got a cart and we off to explore. Like i said these stores were vast inside. I wondered how they got so much stuff in such a building. We headed over to the toy department first. They had three rows of dolls from the stick figure like dolls to baby dolls. Then an aisle of doll accessories. then all the kitchen things and tea sets as well. This was definitely a girls heaven, at least a little girl's. I searched all the doll aisles but couldn't find one like mine. Then I saw it. There all by itself was a boy doll. he was about 20 inches long, wearing a pair of yellow shorts with a t-shirt that said "I am Mama's Little Guy". I showed him to my mom and she agreed that would make a great gift, it would be different from from all the girl dolls most girls got for presents. I put the doll in the cart as my mom picked out some other things to go with this doll, like clothes and such. Soon we done in the toy department and moved across the store to the girls clothing.
Once there I began searching through the dresses and skirt outfits that would go good with her long auburn hair. My sister was little bigger then i was at the time, not getting my growth spurts. There were so many to choose from unlike today where dresses only take up less then a half a rack. They were in all the bright colors from the pinks to the yellows. Some were pouffy and lavished in lace and frills while others were more plain. It was rwally hard to choose which she would like as to another one. I finally chose a light cream colored dress. It had trims in lace with little half-sleeves bloused at the elbow areas, it had a petticoat attached as well and was more like a party style dress but not overtly fancy. It had a two inch sash for around the waist and buttoned up the back with pearl white buttons, the collar was more like you'd see the pilgrims wore a way back when with little eyelet lace around the edges. I knew she would look very pretty in it. I showed it to my mom and she said okay. I hung it on the hand rail of the cart to prevent it from being wrinkled. My mom had picked out some summer shorts for my sister and a new play dress. Then we were done. We went out to the car and my mom said she had forgotten something and would be right back out and asked me to load the things into the car. I did and soon she came out with another bag in her hands. She started the car and we went on home.
At home i took the things to her room and then went out to play with Kathy, the girl across the street. On my sister's birthday we gave her all her presents and she was overjoyed to have the boy doll and the dress I picked out for her. The next day i thought everything would go back to normal. It was raining so I couldn't go out to play so I went to see how my sister was playing with her new doll. She had already dressed him in one of the new outfits and asked me if i wanted to play with her. I agreed a few moments later my mom came in and saw us and said we should really dress the part. She told my sister to put on her new play dress and I was to go with her. It turned out my mom bought me a matching dress to my sisters. It was great. We both played with her and my dolls as mommies the rest of the day, my younger brother was made the father which he didn't ob