At the old Wanamaker’s Department Store,
now Macys, in downtown Philadelphia
To little girls who once sat on Santa’s lap
and giddily shopped for the first day of school,
Wanamaker’s seemed more palace
but it’s now just another declining Macy’s.
Though its enormous gilded ceiling
still rises high
above wraparound balconies and a marble floor,
the upper third of the building sits empty,
the once attentive staff
are nowhere to be found,
with tossed sweaters and pants,
escalators are in disrepair,
carpets are covered in dust,
but six days a week,
at noon and 5:30 sharp,
the majesty returns,
when a musician sits down,
places his fingers on the keyboard
of the largest organ in the world*,
and the towering gold pipes,
on the mezzanine
above The Grand Court,
come resoundingly alive,
forcefully pumping familiar tunes
and classical music
throughout the cavernous space,
pushing sadness aside,
filling elderly little girls
with memories of magic.
© by Joan Kantor.
Used here with the author's permission.
*The Wanamaker Grand Court Organ is the largest fully functioning pipe organ in the world.