Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Welcome to SkyMiles. Here's your new number.

Eh? Skymiles?

By way of explanation, the email begins..."As part of the Northwest/Delta merger, your WorldPerks® account is now a SkyMiles account. Please begin using the below SkyMiles account number — instead of your WorldPerks number — for all future Delta, Northwest and partner transactions."

As a frequent traveler between the Eastern Seaboard and the Midwest, most of my travel time was spent on Northwest Airlines, for better or worse. And during times of great frustration they were generally referred to as that (insert your favorite curse word here) airline or more mildly, Northworst. Yet, I knew the ins and outs of NWA and where the good lounges were, how quickly I could get to Starbuck's or Caribou Coffee from the NWA terminal at various airports without missing my connecting flight. I was rarely thrilled with the service (I'd always had better experiences on Jet Blue) but I adapted and adjusted my expectations and was comfortably discomfited.

When all of the merger talks started with Delta I inwardly groaned, but didn't think it would all change so much. I hadn't considered that Northwest Airlines (formerly Northwest Orient Airlines--if anyone is old enough to remember the old cartoon commercials with the bird..."It's the ooooooonly way to fly...") was really going to disappear. Not only   from the tails and signage of their fleet, but all the lounges, terminals and apparently, from their loyalty scheme as well. Let's just say when the "Welcome to Skymiles" email came, it wasn't so much that I was surprised, but a little sad to see that NWA was really going the way of the dodo and the t-rex.

And this got me thinking...thinking of a few things that I've loved that have become, for lack of a better world, extinct. Things change so quickly these days, it's kind of surprising how many stores, products and objects have just disappeared.

And at the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney (a MUCH younger and cuter version who has nicely groomed brows, thank you very much, but still...)

Dayton's and Marshall Fields. Dayton's was part of most Minnesotan's lives. It was the big department store in downtown Minneapolis--think Mary Tyler Moore tossing her can see it in the background of that opening sequence! They held Christmas displays and Spring flower shows in their huge auditorium and no trip to The Cities was complete without making a stop at Dayton's downtown. They had outposts in Duluth, Rochester and a few other mid-sized Midwestern cities. In 1990 Dayton-Hudson acquired Marshall Field's and many Dayton's stores were rebranded as Marshall Field stores. That was one midwestern favorite replacing another. Then when Macy's got involved in recent years, all the stores were branded as Macy's. Minnesotan's by nature aren't necessarily quick to adopt new things (we can be a contrary lot...) and more than a few people I know still call it Dayton's and will likely never call the flagship store in downtown Minneapolis anything but Dayton's. I'd have to believe that Chicagoans are of a similar's always going to be Field's.

Banana Republic. Yes, Banana Republic still exists, but it's not the BR of old. I loved the fun, quirky old "safari" khakis and great white cotton blouses of the old BR. Now-a-days (did I really just type that??) Banana Republic is office wear, for the most part. That's fine, but I liked them better the old way.

B. Dalton Booksellers, Musicland or Sam Goody stores. Perennially one of my favorite Christmas gifts was a gift certificate--the precursor to the ubiquitous gift card--to B. Dalton. I could pore for hours over which books I was going to take home. And the same with Musicland--I loved going there to check out the cassettes...and eventually CDs. Both are basically gone, there may be a few B. Dalton's left out there, but not many. The internet has forever changed the way consumers purchase both books and music.

There are other silly little things I miss...John Frieda's Beach Waves spritz for my hair (the B&B stuff is great, but that's also hard to find); Pepsi-Lite...I always loved that little tinge of unnatural lemon flavor.

Don't get me wrong...I love my mod-cons. My beloved BlackBerry (yes, there I said it, I LOVE MY BLACKBERRY) is perpetually at my side, tucked in my bag, slipped in my pocket, or clutched in my hand...don't even ask what I'd do without it. But I still have--and love in an entirely different way--my Filo-Fax. It's the BlackBerry backup. And I've already sung the praises of XM radio allowing me to listen to the Twins vs Royals the other day as I ambled around Kensico Cemetery.  And iTunes is such a blessing. I can't even begin to count the number of cassette tapes I had to buy when there was only one actual song that I liked. (Yes, Mom, next time I come home I'll go through some of those boxes.)  The ability to be able to listen to at least small bits of every song on album before buying--let alone buy just one or two songs--is a great thing for a fickle music lover like myself. So I'm not knocking modernity, I'm just saying there are a few little things and places I remember fondly and am sorry to see are gone.

Farewell Northwest Airlines, Dayton's and Marshall Field's...I'll have many happy memories of you all. (Well, probably not NWA, but I'll be generous here.)

Anyone out there have any other favorite shops, restaurants, brands or items they miss?? It's healthy to share...

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