by Bill Cherry
lunch with my wife in December at Neiman-Marcus's Zodiac Room, with
the store decorated for Christmas, I smiled and thought about the
world anomaly Stanley Marcus. Jewish by birth, agnostic by philosophy,
and whose wife was a Gentile, no one enjoyed or celebrated the Christmas
season with greater bravura than Mr. Marcus.
As my thanksgiving
for the memory of Mr. Marcus, I want to share this story with you.
Photo courtesy Galveston Rosenberg Library
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Nasher opened Dallas'
NorthPark Center about 1965, Neiman-Marcus ran an ad in "Dallas Morning
News" offering Gant button down blue oxford cloth shirts for $6.00
each at its new NorthPark store.
I was a graduate student at the University of North Texas and on a
tight budget, so up until then, I had not been able to justify buying
a Gant shirt. One might just as well have been a Rolex watch. But
for six bucks, I decided I could have one.
So after class my girlfriend and I drove over to Dallas
to buy that one Gant shirt. In pre-celebration, we stopped at the
all you can eat buffet restaurant that was on the Circle called the
Southern Kitchen. Then we went to Neiman's at NorthPark to buy the
We located the men's haberdashery and found the showcase with the
Gant shirts. I told the saleslady that I wanted one Gant blue oxford
"We only sell them by the box of ten."
"Your ad in the Morning News advertises one for $6.00."
"Nope, you'll have to buy a box."
We left and found the store's office because I wanted to check to
make sure the saleslady was right. A fellow came out and introduced
himself to us as Stanley Marcus, and he asked what he could do to
help us. I told him the story, and he said, "Do you have a few more
minutes?" We went downstairs to the haberdashery and he said to the
saleslady, "Mrs. Golden, my friends Mr. Cherry and Miss Hubbard were
just telling me that they couldn't buy one of the Gant shirts that
we have on sale."
"That's right, Mr. Stanley, we only sell them by the box."
"No, we sell single shirts."
"You're mistaken, Mr. Stanley."
"Mrs. Golden, our store is named Neiman-Marcus, not Neiman-Marcus-Golden.
Please sell Mr. Cherry the Gant shirt he wants." (I'll never forget
Move time forward 20 years. I was visiting my business partner and
his wife in Santa Fe. They had just put their elaborate home on the
market. Their Realtor called and said that Mr. Marcus was in town
and interested in seeing it. When he arrived, as soon as he walked
in and saw me, he extended his hand to me and said, "Mr. Cherry, so
good to see you again," and then he told everyone the Gant shirt story.
I went into total shock.
Move the timeframe forward another few years. I was sitting at a table
at the atrium of the old Saks Center in Houston
waiting for Café Express to call my number for my lunch. I looked
across the room. There was Mr. Marcus sitting with another well-dressed
Then Mr. Marcus' order number was called, and he got up to get it.
As he turned around, he spotted me, walked across the room tray in
hand, and said, "Mr. Cherry, I'm so glad to see you. Are you eating
alone?" I told him I was, he then asked me to join him and his friend.
As soon as he introduced me to his friend, he went right into the
story about the Gant shirt, and then elaborated about how important
it is to make sure employees are always properly representing the
Those three times were the only three times Mr. Marcus and I ever
saw each other. I had gone from a 25-year old to at least a 45, probably
a 50-year old. Not only had I changed in appearance, but Mr. Marcus
had seen and met probably thousands in the meantime, and he had gone
from about a 65-year old to a 90-year old.
So when someone says to me that Stanley Marcus was one of a kind,
I don't argue.
I am convinced there are some people who just aren't like the rest
of us, and no amount of work on our part will ever bring us to their
level. Mr. Marcus was one of them.
William S. Cherry
Bill Cherry's Galveston
April 2 , 2007 column
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Bill Cherry, a Dallas Realtor and free lance writer was a longtime
columnist for "The Galveston County Daily News." His book, Bill
Cherry's Galveston Memories, has sold thousands, and is still
available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com and other bookstores.