Another Bartell's Story

March 12, 2024 at 2:35 p.m.
We are reprinting this Christmas-related article in March to give another human-interest story to the concurrent article about Bartell Drugs closing its stores
We are reprinting this Christmas-related article in March to give another human-interest story to the concurrent article about Bartell Drugs closing its stores

...by Dorie May Scott Roedell

Editor's Note: This article was written in 2012 but relates a story that took place in December 1944


I was eighteen years old and about to get married. But what to give my husband-to-be for Christmas?

I had money to spend from my job at the Bartell’s photo counter on Boren Avenue in Seattle. I’d been working there for two years, ever since I was 16. It was my first job and I made 65 cents an hour. In fact, I worked with my fiancé’s sister – she was my best friend (and still is). We’d both moved from small towns and met at Broadway High School, glad to grab ahold of each other in that big place. We were practically inseparable and would sometimes spend our hard-earned money on matching clothes – we often dressed alike, different colors, but matching, nonetheless.

What to buy for her brother? It would be the very first Christmas present I’d give to the man that has now been my husband for going on sixty-eight years. (The couple celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2019, their Diamond Jubilee.)

He had given me an engagement ring. What could match that? I know his mother gave him the ring to give to me, but still. In fact, the other day he asked me where that ring was. I told him, “It wore out, remember?”

Each Christmas season, Mr. Bartell himself would come down to shake all of our hands and to wish us Merry Christmas. He lived on the top floor of Bartell’s, which was sort of a warehouse back then. The day of that year’s handshake, a co-worker told me she was giving her husband a lifetime subscription to Readers Digest. It cost $25. Everyone probably thought it was a dumb Christmas present to give to a twenty-year-old kid. Not very romantic. But I didn’t know what else to give him. It was a very last-minute decision.

That subscription started in 1944 and it still comes every month. It’s incredible, really – a tribute to Readers Digest. They’ve never missed a month after all these years.

We both still read it. He always tears out all of the advertisements beforehand and swears that when he first started getting it, it didn’t have any ads. Go figure.

I wonder what I’ll get him this year?


This article was written by the editor's mother, Doris Roedell, and appeared in the December 2012 issue of Northwest Prime Time.
We are reprinting this Christmas-related article in March to give another human-interest story to the concurrent article about Bartell Drugs closing its stores, https://northwestprimetime.com/news/2024/mar/12/seattle-bartells-has-always-been-more-drugstore/
Dorie May Scott Roedell and her husband, Clarence, have since passed away after a long and happy marriage. Reader's Digest continued to arrive faithfully until we contacted them two years ago with a sad note to discontinue the subscription more than 77 years after it had begun. My mother submitted her article to Reader's Digest hoping they would print it. They didn't, but don't you think they should have?
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