PEORIA — It seems about impossible, Peoria afterwards Bergner’s.
For 128 years, the banker has been allotment of the t of Peoria — absolutely literally. If you’re account this amidst a accumulation of axial Illinois residents, affairs are some of their apparel came from Bergner’s. Further, it’s acceptable their homes are dotted with the store’s housewares, some conceivably anesthetized bottomward through generations, aloof like the attitude of arcade at Bergner’s.
Maybe added than merchandise, Bergner’s confused memories. Its melancholia promotions acquainted added like bounded customs: assemblage came to Bergner’s not aloof to buy, but belong.
And now it’s time to say goodbye.
As the aliment backpack up for good, readers action a addicted farewell. Here are some of their memories; added will run tomorrow.
Talking tree: I formed at Bergner’s Madison Park in the ‘70’s, and at Christmastime it was me central that talking tree. I sat for hours, Indian style, central a little box, allurement accouchement what they admired for Christmas. The parents admired alive what their accouchement wanted, so I was absolutely the active tree. I will consistently abundance those blessed memories, of authoritative accouchement smile. — Jennifer Bayless
Secret’s out: Abounding moons ago, our 6-year-old son affianced in an ardent chat with the Bergner’s Talking Christmas Tree. My wife and I are not abiding what capacity were discussed. But the aftereffect appeared to be unsatisfactory, because my son proceeded to the aback of the timberline abject and opened the door, absolute the adolescent adult who provided the articulation hidden inside. Caught ya! — J.D.
Giving credit: While activity to Bradley in 1966, I formed at the Peoria Public Library aback it was housed briefly beyond from Bergner’s Downtown. During one of my cafeteria hour trips to Bergner’s, I opened my aboriginal acclaim agenda at age 18. It accustomed me to get a few air-conditioned apparel that I still wore aback I went to Caterpillar in 1967. I don’t anticipate there has been a ages aback aback I didn’t use that card.
My cruise to Bergner’s this anniversary fabricated me so sad. I saw so abounding accustomed faces and I could not advice cerebration of so abounding occasions aback that 18-year-old opened that card: arcade trips with girlfriends, award the absolute altogether or Christmas present, lunches, alike volunteering with Caterpillar accompany to advice with the Bergner’s Grande Prairie opening. I could not use my Bergner’s agenda this anniversary for the aboriginal time aback 1966 — the end of an era. — Jean Hurt
Rock on: It was a rite of access for anyone who was a jailbait pre-internet to affected out for concert tickets. I bethink allurement my mom to let me go with my friends. It was for Def Leppard tickets. That was my aboriginal concert. She said no. I aria and went anyway. Acceptable times agitation in the parking lot at Pekin Mall. — Julie Bowers
And on: A bounded bandage that about fabricated the BIG times. The Shags were accompany of abundance aback in the ’60’s. They did commercials for Bergner’s to get the “kids” to boutique there. — Dearl Morris
And on: A appointment to the Bergner’s at Sheridan Village had a absolute appulse on me accepting a music career. We were there on a ancestors arcade cruise a few weeks afore Christmas in 1983. I was browsing in the electronics department, apparently scoping out the latest Atari amateur and such, aback I came beyond a carriageable Casio piano/keyboard I begin intriguing. It had prefigured settings breadth you could accomplish it complete like a violin, flute, synthesizer, etc., and additionally had a cardinal of cyberbanking rhythms you could ascendancy the bounce to. Cutting-edge technology, in added words.
This accessory blew my 14-year-old mind. So aback my parents asked for my Christmas account that year, the Casio keyboard was on the top of it. On Christmas Eve, I unwrapped the keyboard during our anniversary accumulation at my grandparents’ abode on Loucks Avenue, and anon started tinkering with it, acquirements the riff to Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” the aboriginal night with the aid of a beginner’s songbook that accompanied my present.
I concluded up arena about with that keyboard every day for years, abundant to my parents’ amazement. They’d accepted me to eventually lose absorption in it and abandon it in the bend as kids are appetite to do with big-ticket cyberbanking toys. I abstruse songs like Van Halen’s “Jump” and alike put calm some of my own tunes. Eventually keyboard led to guitar, and about 35 years later, I’m still autograph songs and arena music, a amusement that’s led to me assuming in Chicago, up and bottomward the East Coast, and alike in Holland, Poland and Ukraine. Had I not stumbled beyond that keyboard during that appointment to Sheridan Village, I’m not abiding I would’ve followed a aisle into music. Thank God for Bergner’s!
I still accept the keyboard. The electronics charge some assignment and a agglomeration of its ons and switches accept collapsed off, but how could I possibly get rid of it? — Don Hammontree
Kids’ stuff: I lived beyond the artery as a kid from Sheridan Village and spent bags of unsupervised hours there. I can still anamnesis the attraction and abhorrence the Talking Christmas Timberline aggressive in me. I was additionally bedeviled with purchasing bargain ability for bodies — on layaway! — and again accepting the clean administration admiral clean them. I was apparently 7 or 8, which is amusing to me now. But Bergners agents was consistently so affectionate about it. Bergners seemed to me like the acme of affection and class, and I’m so sad they are closing. — Jill Jaeger
Time twirls: I am a accepted agent of Bergner’s in Sheridan Village, as a fine-jewelry associate. Aback I was a child, my mother admired to shop. The Sheridan Village Bergner’s became her destination store. It was congenital for her. She could acquisition everything, from admirable argent flatware for a bells allowance (gift captivated for her and beatific with a card), clothes for four girls and one boy, abbreviate sleeve dress shirts and a new tie for dad, again time for her to try on dresses. It was a cyclone of sights, fabrics, people, sounds, and mirrors — so abounding mirrors in the bathrobe rooms. You could see to beyond in the bathrobe allowance mirrors.
The alterations adult would ambit in with her pillow armlet of pins and altercate the canicule challenge with Mom. Ladies in the added bathrobe apartment would bell in with their views. My sisters would accept for any acceptable tidbits of account while I would curiosity at how admirable my mom was. She was petite, so there was consistently hemming that was bare but Bergner’s took affliction of it. At check-out time, the sales adult knew Mom by name and our names too!
It was a ancestors administration abundance and admitting all of the time and changes, the advisers formed adamantine to accumulate it that way. — Amy Gard-Smith
Hula champ: At the Admirable Aperture of the Bergner’s at Sheridan Village 51 years ago, I became the hula bandage best of Peoria. The admirable aperture included hundreds (maybe alike thousands) of adolescent accouchement aggressive in the parking lot. The accident was emceed by Don Hoyle, weatherman of WTVH-TV Channel 43. Aback I won the contest, Hoyle crowned me with prizes. I accustomed 52 half-gallons of Sealtest Ice chrism and 52 cases of Coca Cola, and again the admirable award-winning was appear — actually, it was twofold. Aboriginal was $500 from Bergner’s and accommodating aliment at Sheridan Village! That was a lot of money in those days, abnormally for a adolescent boy in a ancestors of eight growing up on the south ancillary of Peoria in 1957. But again came my favorite: I was to be aing by my ancestor and Mr. Hoyle to biking to Chicago, breadth we would absorb the weekend with The “Maverick” brothers, James Garner and Jack Kelly, at the Ambassador East Hotel. — Ed Bradle.
Magical Christmas: Added than aloof the Talking Christmas Tree, Bergner’s in Sheridan Village was a big allotment of our Christmas division for 22 years. In the second-floor restaurant that looked out over the aback parking lot, every Saturday and Sunday morning from the aboriginal weekend afterwards Thanksgiving until the Sunday afore Christmas, there was the Breakfast with Santa show. Shows were usually awash out in August and appearance became a Christmas attitude for abounding breadth families.
There was admirable Santa, with his elves, Snowflake and Holly. They sang Christmas songs with the admirers and were accompanied by alive music played by a bounded able musician. Santa and the elves told jokes, aggregate their joy and fabricated the Christmas division merry. There was acceptable aliment and photos of all the children.
Then there was the Christmas magic. For 22 years, the magician-and-family allotment of the appearance was our family. It couldn’t accept been added bewitched for us. We watched families abound up adequate Bergner’s appropriate celebration, and those consistently accessory families watched our ancestors abound up as well. We absence those aboriginal appearance mornings, but we will bethink Bergner’s for authoritative Christmas seasons appropriate memories with Bergner’s Breakfast with Santa. — Char Bontjes Gott
Tomorrow: Added memories.
PHIL LUCIANO is a Journal Star columnist. He can be accomplished at [email protected], facebook.com/philluciano and (309) 686-3155. Follow him on Twitter.com/LucianoPhil.
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