Thursday, January 18, 2007

Woolworth's Lunch Counter

The F.W. Woolworth Company was founded in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth.

Woolworth's pioneered the five and dime store genre: they were the first to set merchandise out for customers to handle. Stores at that time usually kept goods behind counters, which necessitated asking for service from a sales clerk.

There was a Woolworth's in our neighborhood growing up, and I have fond memories of it. My absolute favorite element of that store was the lunch counter. It seemed frozen in time, recalling a 1960's diner. My mother took me there as a child, the way her own mother had taken her...

A Woolworth's menu, circa 1960.

The menu was very diner as well. The ladies that worked there really seemed to care. I remember so vividly the taste of their club sandwich, which the waitress had dressed with mayonnaise beforehand. (I've never quite understood why restaurants always serve it on the side...)

Vintage Woolworth's dessert and soda fountain signs.

Our Woolworth's even had cutlery engraved with the store's name. I had asked our waitress if I could buy one (I could never steal from our Woolworth's). She let me keep it, wrapping it nicely in a napkin so that I wouldn't be accused of theft...

I still have that spoon, long after Woolworth's and their beloved lunch counters have all disappeared...

A Woolworth's lunch counter in the 1940's.

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