Monday, April 2, 2012

Memories of Woolworths:

     It was American to have a Woolworth’s in every town. Ours was in a good central location on Broadway and Main Street where marching bands paraded by and flags waved from the store front. It was a meeting place, where friends greeted old friends. When I was a child my favorite windows held the back to school displays starting at the end of summer. We were excited and couldn’t wait to return to the classroom with new supplies.
     That afternoon after school, I could smell the burgers and fries before I even pushed open the heavy double door angled on the corner. 
     I stood wide eyed wondering where to go first with my list. Then I spotted my favorite red haired waitress behind the counter right under the neon clock. She wore a uniform, her apron was see through like angel wings and she smiled when she saw me. I walked across the big square black and white tiles and sat down at the horseshoe counter. Ladies in dresses and high heel shoes clicked when they walked by.
     “Hello,” I said as she gave me a glass of ice water and a menu.
     I spun in a circle on the red leather topped stool because there was no one to tell me to stop.
My egg salad sandwich on wonder bread with crunchy lettuce was perfect. And my root beer float was made with one hard scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was almost too full to shop. 
     This was the best place to buy presents when you were a kid. There was even a big old fashioned picture of Mr. F.W. Woolworth on the wall beside the emergency exit.
     The fish tank was tucked in the corner at the back of the store. Some parents left their kids there to watch the fish while they shopped. The little kids scared the fish. They couldn’t read the sign that said not to knock on the glass. The fast moving fish were colorful but I didn’t think mom would like that for her birthday or the baby ducks and chicks that come in all pastel colors. I particularly like the boxes they come in with the wire handles.
     The sweet smells of the aisle with perfumes and aftershave tickled my nose so I didn’t go there.
     There were scarves and neckties and barrettes and hair clips, brushes and combs. There were pet supplies, but dad wouldn’t let us get another dog. There were also curtains and rods and material but she didn’t sew.
     I paused and fingered the candy cigarettes, squeezed the marshmallow chicks, smelled the black jack gum and aimed the cap gun. Sometimes I bought a roll of caps and hit them hard with a big rock on our sidewalk out by the mom couldn’t see. They popped and sparked.
      I walked up and down each aisle until I found the balloons and party supplies and greeting cards. My mother liked the kitchen aisle and tried out all the gadgets because she was left handed and sometimes they didn’t work for her. I finally found a gravy stir and it didn’t matter if you were left or right handed. I had the lady put it into a medium white box with a wire handle and added a nice card for a great mom.
     I will always miss you Woolworths. Bob Hope said it... “Thanks for the memories.”
                                                                                    by Emalou King, RN,BSN, PHN

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