Hundreds flocked to Irving’s Toy and Card Shop this past Labor Day weekend for one last trip down the most famous retail aisle in Brookline’s history. Ethel Weiss and her late husband established the Brookline landmark in January 1939. Ethel ran every aspect of the store for 76 years until her passing last December. Ethel’s daughter, Anita Jamieson, opened the store one final time to raise $5,807 for the Devotion School PTO and give us all one last go-around.
“As much as I wanted to find a way to create a non-profit and keep Irving’s going,” said Anita Jamieson, “I simply couldn’t find a way to do it. My mother loved Brookline and all her customers, many of whom became her friends. Every day, I meet people who remember her kindness and a big smile.”
Many patrons fought back tears as they shared memories with their children and grandchildren, while other patrons would listen. Some came from far away. Others who’ve moved too far out to come back for the sale sent family and friend emissaries to take pictures and purchase keepsakes. Children who have never been to Irving’s came and were just as enthralled with the store, which changed little over the years, as all the children who came before them the previous seven decades. Irving’s was the perfect blend of candy, toys, cards, tchotchkes, and love.
“It was bittersweet spending time at Irving’s this weekend,” said Daphne Strassman, who spearheaded the Irving’s Labor Day Popup Sale, “I enjoyed seeing so many new and familiar faces. Thank you, Ethel, for the lasting magical memories and thank you, Anita, for giving us a chance to enjoy Irving’s once again, we are forever grateful.”
I was fortune enough to man the register all day Friday, semi-competently helping the long line of Ethel’s customers and listening to anecdote after anecdote. It wasn’t enough for most people to simply purchase items. People felt compelled to explain why they were there and what Ethel meant to them and how they felt Ethel impacted their family and our community.
Like many words these days, the word “beloved” is overused. Nowadays, the word seems to be used for media celebrities and people none of us really know. We are sold on the notion that these people are “beloved”. Ethel earned her love the old fashion way, by earning it with her Irving’s customers one person at a time for 76 years.
Thank you, Anita, for giving us one more weekend to remember and for doing it in a way that would make your mother proud. You are 100 percent a chip off your mother’s block.
If you have memories of Irving’s, Anita and Daphne invites everyone to share their photos on Irving’s Facebook page.
Thank you to all the volunteers!
Daphne G. Strassmann, Popup Store Manager, Devo PTO
Steve Strassmann, Devo parent, Popup Store PR & Web
Charla Whitley, Devo parent and PTO Co-Chair
Arden Reamer, Popup Store Treasurer
Rona Gertner, Devo parent
Melissa Dulla, Devo parent
Elizabeth Dailey, Girl Scout Troup Leader, Devo Parent
Sheryl Weit, Devo parent
Dominique Gonyer, Devo parent
Danny, Hadassah and Ada Margolis, 3 generations of Devo alumni/students, father, daughter and grandchild
R. Harvey Bravman, BrooklineHub Publisher, President ADW Video Productions