Monday, February 5, 2007

Kmart Cafeteria, S&H Green Stamps, Crazy Cecil's

I had a dream recently that involved me sitting in a booth of the old KMart cafeteria eating one of those little squares of jello with whipped topping on top. Remember those? The cafeteria, not the jello square.
That dream got me to thinking about the old KMart stores and some of the other stores I remember that used to be here in the Springfield area.

There was the little cafeteria in the middle of the KMart store. I want to say that it was called the Piccadilly Cafeteria but I'm not sure if that was it. It might have just been called KMart Cafeteria, I dunno. I couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 years old when I used to sit there with my dad eating a jello square while Mom went shopping elsewhere in the store. Mom always made desserts at home like Jello for us kids, but for some reason, there was nothing like having Jello at KMart with the whipped topping on top. It just tasted better. I think it was all in my head though. We didn't get to go many places back then.

There also had a little deli section at the front of the store past the checkout that sold these amazing submarine sandwiches that my dad used to buy. The main thing I remember about them was the ungodly amount of thinly sliced onions that were piled between those two oblong pieces of bread. Those sandwiches consisted of so many onions that you could smell them outside as you were getting out of the car to go inside.

Also, KMart was the only place I knew of in town that sold ICEEs. We begged for an ICEE every time we went there. Cherry ICEE was my favorite. Remember the cute ICEE Polar Bear logo? The deli also had little stuffed ICEE Polar Bears for sale. Oh how I wanted one of those polar bears! I never did get one, no matter how many times I asked.

KMart, at that time, also had this thing called the Blue Light Special. A little cart with a blue police light whirling around on the top of a long skinny metal pole. I can remember us flying down aisles looking for the blue light cart as soon as Mom heard "Attention KMart Shoppers...." announced over the intercom. It didn't matter what the special was, we checked it out all the same. You picked up what you wanted from that specific department or section of items, took it over to the clerk at the blue light cart and they would taking a pricing gun and mark it down for you. Instant savings! No way a discount pricing system like that would work in this day and age.

One thing I think of when I think of the cashiers at KMart was them completely surrounded by hangers. Not flimsy little store hangers like you see today, but those thick, clear hangers with the metal clips one each end. I can still hear the sound of a handful of those hangers being thrown into a big, dirty, fabric-covered cart behind the cashier. That was after she ripped off all the tags and put them into their appropriate slots (Key 1, Key 2, Key 3, etc). There were also no conveyor belt type checkout counters then. You had to keep scooching all your items down, down, down until it was your turn to checkout.
Now that I think about it, KMart seems like it was a pretty cool place to be back in the day.

For some reason, thinking about the old KMart store, reminded me of S&H Green Stamps (check out the link for an awesome picture of the old books and stamps). I'm not sure if there was a store located in Springfield, if there was, I don't remember where it was located. But I do remember those little books of stamps all over the house and my parents used to collect them by the buttloads. I've licked my share of those little green stamps in my lifetime. I can't recall if they ever got redeemed for anything but I remember Mom having many, many filled books of them. I'll have to ask her if she remembers turning them in for something cool. I wonder why they got phased out. It would be interesting to read the story behind their demise. UPDATE: Here's the Straight Dope on the end of S&H Green Stamps.

Last but not least, there was a Crazy Cecils store at the corner of the West Bypass and Sunshine, where WalMart used to be before they moved a Super WalMart to the opposite corner of that same intersection.
I can't remember much about Crazy Cecils except that it was the greatest place in town to buy candy. I used to get those 2/$1 bags of Circus Peanut candy. Mom married a guy named Cecil once and hence the memories of the Crazy Cecil store was talked about often. I remember him buying peanut logs there a lot. The rest of the merchandise sold there reminds me of a cross between Army Surplus and a dollar store. Maybe one step above a truck stop.
Unfortunately, I can't find anything about Crazy Cecils online. I wonder if it was a national chain or a local thing.

Do you have any memories or pictures of these places or places no longer in existence in Springfield? I'd love to hear about them.

Oh bittersweet nostalgia.....


Anonymous said...

So, what exactly were those key slots for?

Stacia said...

Wow, I can't believe I found this! When I was a kid I went to Crazy Cecil's a ton. I still have a box of poker chips with a Crazy Cecil's price tag on it. For some reason I thought it was in Lebanon, where I used to live, but that was such a long time ago it's no wonder I have forgotten.

And mom collected S&H stamps all the time. We got some new pillows and lamps from them, which were a big deal back then!

nickposh said...

Wow, what memories from being a kid in the 80s. I found this blog by googling "K-mart" cafeteria. I'm also looking for pictures of the old joint. I remember it being really dark inside. If I recall correctly, the interior was wood paneled and it was partitioned from the store with gold 70s-ish plexiglass windows. This was at the Brunswick, OH location. I also remember the oniony subs made from pressed ham (and popcorn???) at the front deli. My location did not serve icee brand frozens. They served "frozen cokes." The cherry flavor was Fanta. Their competitor at the time, "Gold Circle," served the icee brand drinks. Another memory of the store was the Muzak and the smell of cigarette smoke wafting through the cafeteria into the store.

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! Thanks for the memory!!! it brought back my childhood at
K-Mart, the Sub sandwich's they were 4 for $1 !!!! (in the 70's) and I also remember running so fast to a blue light special, that I dropped a bottle of nail polish on the floor and broke it, I was so embarassed. My folks also collected Green stamps..What a memory, Thank You.

Anonymous said...

I too miss the old Kmart cafe I can remember my mother working there and I being just 5 years old and sitting in a booth at 7 am in the morning while the store had it's monthly meeting wishing it was over so I could have a icee for being good

NoelleL Florence SC said...

I had forgotten about the Key Tag slots... Our cafeteria was in the back of the store, but I remember I loved their vanilla pudding with whipped topping...

I loved those subs.. Ours also sold chopped ham sandwiches which were shaved ham, mustard, shredded lettuce on a hamburger roll.. there were four in a bag.. I can remember my mom and grandma and I buying two bags and taking them with us to the movie theatre next door and eating them during the movie...

If you would like to recreate the sub sandwich here's a link to the "recipe" from a former Kmart deli worker...

Thanks for bringing back some great memories.

Anonymous said...

Crazy Cecils was started by a guy that grew up in Aurora. It was a local store and before WalMart and KMart etc. My brother knew the guy that started it...had gone to school with him. And it was a cross between Army Surplus and Dollar Store....Not very neat but had untold treasures in it at a good discounted price. There was a S&H Green Stamp Store in Springfield. It was at Campbell and Sunshine on the SE corner in that shopping center...back in the corner almost to the L. We saved those stamps too when I was a kid and one thing we got some nice Libby glassware goblets among other things. Those goblets were a prized possession of my mothers.
Woolworths down on the square had a cafeteria in it too with good stuff to eat. Don't remember a cafeteria in KMart.

Mike said...

This post is older, but I feel a strong compulsion to respond, because I remember basically all the things mentioned in the original post and the comments, as they pertain to Springfield.

Crazy Cecil: Oh, how well I remember the name! I barely remember when the building was actually called Crazy Cecil, but I have a very vague memory of being there, I think there were cowboy hats. At any rate, my grandma called the Wal Mart that took over "Crazy Cecil's" for YEARS after it was gone!

The Kmart cafeteria: I only remember the one on Sunshine having the cafeteria, but I remember it well. I always wanted to go in and eat there, but never did. It was in shades of orange and dark wood Formica or paneling.

S & H Green Stamps: as one anonymous poster stated, there was a Green Stamp store at Sunshine and Campbell. I remember going into it a time or two, but mostly I remember it being there because we shopped frequently at the Skaggs Drug Store and the Ramey's market in that center. I loved going to both of those stores, especially the Skaggs. It was smaller than the one on Glenstone, but still neat. We always entered through the big liquor department, though the folks never bought booze there.

What about Venture? I remember being little, and that Springfield's Venture always smelled like popcorn and chocolate chip cookies. I remember there was a little space near the front entrance where they sold a few bakery items, and they used to give me a free chocolate chip cookie sometimes.

Wondering if anyone remembers these: cafeteria/restaurant in Wards and Penneys at the Battlefield Mall, mezzanine cafe at Heers on the square.

Anonymous said...

I would like to respond to the Crazy Cecil comment. Yes Crazy Cecil's was local "Walmart" like store. No the owner was not from Aurora, but orginially from Cuba, Mo. I should know, I am his grand daughter.

Manbulance said...

Key Slots... Each of the different departments were separate entities. I once worked for the shoe department. The cashier would tear off the Key Tag and the next morning at opening, the manager for each department would collect the tags and tally up their day's sales. I worked in the Shoe Department which was owned by Meldisco. We used to have to enter each of those tags in a book and then punch the tally for each of our shoe styles into what was a glorified calculator that reported the sales back to the Meldisco headquarters.

Anonymous said...

I'm 38, my parents lived behind elfindale and there was an old closed slaughterhouse or something before all the retirement communities. it was Phipps before fassnight creek farms, my brothers remembered crazy cecils, it was a hair before my time, but my dad and I would go to kmart every Saturday or sunday, they had the best biscuits and gravy and decent burgers, it was kind of dark and dated but foot was good, like a mini heritage cafeteria, and the icee stand up front with popcorn and pretzels and every summer they would offer the major league baseball plastic cups. I miss the old kmart, it had showbiz pizza in it. reminds me of my dad who passed in 2009. anyone remember otasco where loftis pawn is now. that whole corner has changed, used to have tcby, otasco and wasn't there a ben franklin at Campbell and glenstone or was it where harbor freight is now