"The Diamond was different than the department stores you see today," said Bill Smith, a manager at Diamond from 1970 until it closed. "We had a great many more sales associates, the customer service was better; each department was like its own little store."
In its prime, The Diamond was "a mall in itself," according to Roach -- with a basement and five floors of shopping. The store offered everything from clothing to appliances to books, as well as a large cafeteria -- and even the state's first escalators, which were installed in the 1940s.
"They would bring school buses of kids in, and they would come in one door, go up the escalators to the fifth floor, come back down, go back to their bus and leave," Roach said.
The main floor of The Diamond housed hosiery, fine jewelry, cosmetics, accessories, menswear and sportswear. The basement featured a budget store and a section devoted to Hickory Farms, and the second floor had a bridal shop, the shoe department and a range of women's fashions.
The store's third floor had draperies, furniture and carpeting. The fourth floor offered linens and children's clothing. The fifth floor had china, appliances and a cafeteria with "the best cinnamon rolls you've ever had," Roach said. The two upper floors were entirely stock and office space.
Smith said he was one of the last people at The Diamond when it closed. This year's reunion was billed as the last, but Smith said he's already heard about plans to keep it going next year.
"I turned the lights out," he said. "It was just a lot of fun, which is why these people have stuck together for so many years. I just can't give the folks who have been organizing this enough credit for doing it; that was the kind of loyalty employees had for a company that you seldom see anymore."
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.