Ann Halle Little
Famous Name and Fabulous Life
For many of us, the Halle name is burnt into our memory. What Clevelander doesn't remember "Halle's 7th Floor" the home of Mr. Jingeling? *
But for young Ann Halle and her four older siblings Halle's was just the "place her father worked." It was also a wonderful place to spend Sundays because her father would allow her to ride the elevators all day long while he worked. "Oh these weren't elevators like they have today. They were very hard to open and close, and operate, but I loved that. And Father never said no."
The Halle Family
Young Ann is seated, 3rd from left
Now 96 years old, Ann Halle Little shares some of the amazing life she has led.
As a young child she lived at the top of Cedar Hill on Hartcourt Drive. In the early days, she remembers a trolley going by her street. "At the bottom was the earliest medical building of Cleveland Clinic - the only one. How it has grown since then".
She graduated from Laurel High School and then went to Smith College to study architecture. "Nobody in my family was an architect at that time, but I was just interested." It never entered Ann's mind that she would not pursue an interest or a dream. Both of her parents were extremely supportive. Luckily for Ann, they were also in a position to help her make her dreams come true.
Salmon and Samuel Halle in 1916
"Mother and Father were wonderful. I never heard "no" about anything. So all of us grew up to be quite different. Mother was simply adorable." Her siblings (Kay, Walter, Margaret and Jane) all shared her enthusiasm for life, but Ann had a special thirst in her that only an adventure could quench.
One of Ann's many hobbies was flying. She loved being a pilot even in what she calls "an ancient kind of airplane." "I can remember flying over our farm, out in Kirtland. Mother used to love to take sun baths and I flew over her and dove right down and flew right on top of her!"
Ann Halle in the cockpit
This memory brings a hearty laugh from Ann - a laugh she is famous for and not shy about using.
She also took up photography and to this day has a tremendous collection of photos including 3D pictures dating as far back as 1924. She loved to capture a moment in a photograph, whether it be a landscape, portrait or building - they all held special beauty to her. She was an accomplished equestrian and loved to ride her horse, Thistle.
Ann Halle Little taking photographs at her 45th Reunion in 1980
Ann idolized her oldest sister Kay. She was not only beautiful but was a career woman as well. Ann tells the story of Winston Churchill's visit to their home. "Winston Churchill came to stay in our house because his son wanted to marry her [Kay]. Mother thought nothing of that. Later somebody told Kay that there was something in that family that wasn't quite right and she shouldn't marry Churchill. So she didn't - but she remained a friend for years. "
Ann, of course, met Winston Churchill, and thought nothing of it until other people told her how special this was. She also met the Kennedys and a number of other presidents, statesmen and celebrities, but has a hard time listing her famous friends because she never thought of them that way.
It is only in looking through old photos or hearing others tell stories of her past that one realizes just how many remarkable experiences she has had. Her sister Kay also dated George Gershwin and sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
Ann Halle's parents 50th anniversary
Ann is standing, 2nd from left
Ann did not quite get her degree in architecture; something amazing stopped her in her tracks. She met and instantly fell in love with Robert A. Little, himself an architecture student. "I knew lots of boys before but I never thought about them seriously. This one was different - everything made him different."
The wedding of Robert Little and Ann Halle
Robert Little was the son of a famous geneticist, the founder of the Jackson Laboratory of Cancer Research in Bar Harbor Maine. Bob's family could trace their roots back to Paul Revere. For Ann however, none of that mattered. She just knew she was in love.
Ann was a woman with a plan - and marriage wasn't part of it. But when she met Bob she says it was out of her control, she loved him so deeply. They had a wonderful marriage for over 60 years when Bob died. Ann still lights up at the mention of his name.
Her marriage to Bob was exciting, romantic and very happy marriage. "I don't think we ever had a cross word - not one."
Robert and Ann Halle Little cut the cake at their wedding
Shortly after they were married Ann and Bob had their first child, Sam, who was followed by a younger brother Robert. Robert, who was a musician, died a few years ago. Sam, like his father and mother, is an architect. Ann has three grandchildren, all boys.
A Wedding Toast
She has traveled to most every spot on this earth, and has a huge map on her wall studded with more pins representing places she's been than one can count... Far East, Africa, Australia, Europe, South America and of course, North America. She's been in the penthouse but her favorite trips are the ones where she could really experience the local culture. "Goodness, not the Riviera. That's such a waste of time!"
Instead put her on an African Safari or a trip through the streets of India and she will be happiest. She also loved to ski. Her favorite ski spots? "Wherever there was a good steep hill" be it Colorado or Mount Cook.
Ann is still an avid reader and often re-visits the books she loved the most. Her coffee table holds magazines as well as copies of Angela's Ashes, Marley and Me and Abraham Lincoln.
Newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Little leave the reception
Nothing really makes her angry - she is happy all the time. This may come from her attitude about people. She loves people but is not the least bit concerned about what they think of her. "I give the best I can and do the best I can. If that's not enough - so be it. I'm not interested in leaving a legacy. If people remember me - fine. If they don't so be it."
She admits that most people think she is "slightly cuckoo - maybe a little off the beaten path" but she laughs and gives a quick wink when she says this and you know she enjoys this reputation and probably nurtures it.
Bob and Ann Little sailing
In her beautiful home, designed, of course by Bob Little, Ann is surrounded by nature: Trees, birds, deer, rolling hills and flowers. She is happiest in the winter curled up on the couch with a good book and a fire in the fireplace - perfectly content with the life she has lead.
Robert Little surrounded by canine family members
The Women's Liberation movement never interested Ann because she never thought there was a need for it. In fact, she thinks the concept of a glass ceiling keeping women down is "just preposterous!"
"I think it's time woman kicked the rear end of men and did what they wanted to do and could do. There is more wasted brain with woman. They should do what they are able to do. If they want to get married and have children they should do it, but keep your brain matter working.
"Borrowing a line from Nike® she says women don't need a "movement" they should just "DO IT". She thinks each woman should do it for and by themselves and there would be no reason for a movement or anything else.
Bob and Ann Little having fun
She blames a lot of attitudes on "Old habits - women should stay home and shut up!" but she is quick to add, "I never believed in that."
"Women are coming into their own now" she says. Pretty soon they'll catch up with her.
To this day Ann does not quite realize how special her life was. Halle's was her family's store. That's all. She thought the life she led was the life everyone led.
First Halle's ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer - February 8, 1891
Note the 231 Superior address
Ann's brother, Walter, took over Halle Brothers after his father. None of the sisters, including Ann, ever held a position there. That didn't stop them from discussing the plans and future of the store and making their suggestions. It was a rare event when the family got together and the store was not the focus of the conversation.
The store closed in 1982 after having been open for nearly 100 years (1891-1982). The memories are still important to Ann. As recently as a few months ago she had a visitor at her door - a stranger to Ann. The woman just wanted to let her know she worked at Halle's for years and loved the store and still thinks of Ann's family and her time at the store with heartfelt fondness.
"Can you believe it - after all these years? But that's how people felt about that store. It was like a family."
Halle Brothers trucks
The store motto was "... the place from which all good things come." For Ann Halle Little this store was just a stepping stone to an exciting, whirlwind life. Although she thought everyone lived the way she did, it was never in an arrogant or haughty way.
Listening to husband Bob Little speak She has always had a tremendous love for time spent with family and friends and knowing her for just a moment was enough for her to call you friend.
Her laugh is loud and contagious - it is hard not to be taken in by the spell of happiness that surrounds her. She is what young girls should aspire to be when they grow up; self confident, intelligent, happy and surrounded by the memory and reality of love.
Profiled by Debbie Hanson - 2009
* The Captain Penny program was produced by Earl Keyes, a master story teller who started playing the role of Mr. Jingeling in 1965. Mr. Jingeling was an elf who counted down the days from Thanksgiving to Christmas for Santa. The holiday event was sponsored by Halle's Department Store and ran until 1987.
Keyes was a native of Lakewood, Ohio and one of the original employees at Cleveland's WEWS-TV when it went on the air in 1947. He died of congestive heart failure on December 26, 2000 at the age of 81.
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