Worth Every Trip ❤️

By Gail Moore Woltkamp

In my very early childhood, my grandmother and I would walk a few residential blocks from my house, pass by several store fronts, including my dad’s barbershop, to the Woolworth’s store in downtown Independence, Kansas.

Once reaching our destination, our shopping experience was never disappointing. Sweeper bags, hula hoops, aspirin or a hairbrush, Woolworth’s was THE place for buying whatever we wanted or needed.

As soon as we walked through the door, the smells of perfume and day-old popcorn would welcome us back like an old friend. Down the slanted entry ramp and onto the wide-open fluorescent-lit shopping space, Grandma would head for the household items and I would go directly to the aisle filled with miniature ceramic figurines.

Always worth a trip to Woolworth’s.
Late 1960s-early 70s purchases from the Woolworth’s store in Independence, Kansas ❤️

After shopping the aisles, we would go to the lunch counter and order a grilled cheese sandwich and what was to me, their signature drink: a concoction of orange juice, milk, crushed ice and phosphate, aptly named the “Orange Whip.”

To this day, I have dreams about that Woolworth’s…the signature fluorescent luncheonette sign; the endless aisles filled with ten cent treasures, Woolworth’s, no doubt, made an impact on me…

F.W. Woolworth Company Signature Florescent Luncheonette sign. Photo courtesy of Google Images
A 1960’s glimpse of the Woolworth’s store in the background during the Neewollah Festival in the downtown area of
Independence, Kansas
(1967 Neewollah Program, Neewollah, Inc.)

Retail Pioneers 💙

Woolworth’s history in my hometown in Kansas and towns and cities across the country is a long and thriving one. Some deem the F.W. Woolworth Company the most successful retail five and dime chain store in all retail history. (Remembering Woolworth’s, Karen Plunkett-Powell, St. Martin’s Press, 1999)

Although the first store that opened its doors in Utica, New York, failed, Frank and Charles, the Woolworth brothers, opened a new store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1879 that would be the first successful “Great Five Cent Store.”

Famous Lunch Counter ❤️

On February 1, 1960, four African American students from the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina sat down at a Woolworth’s lunch counter at 123 S. Elm Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. Up to that point, the lunch counter had been for “whites only.”

When the students were refused a cup of coffee and asked to leave the lunch counter, the four freshmen refused to get up. The “Greensboro Four” or the “A&T Four,” as they would later be known, stayed until the store closed.

The next day, twenty more African American students went to the Woolworth’s store to join what is now famously known as the “Greensboro sit-ins.” Each day, the number of student peaceful protesters grew while other cities in North Carolina launched their own “sit-ins.” (international civil rights museum Website)

A sit-in movement spawned in additional cities and states in the south. After nearly six months of boycotts, store owners abandoned their segregation policies.

Visit the sites! 🧡

In 1993, a section of the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter was relocated to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., in Washington D.C.

A section of the lunch counter from the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s is now preserved in the Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of American History.
Photo Courtesy of the Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike

The remaining portion of the lunch counter, including the stools where the “Greensboro Four” sat, has been preserved in its original Woolworth location, 134 S. Elm Street, Greensboro, NC, now home to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which opened on February 1, 2010, the fiftieth anniversary of the original sit-in. info@sitinmovement.org

An additional exhibit titled “Standing Up by Sitting Down” honoring the first national peaceful protest is displayed at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. This exhibit includes original interactive video footage and honors the original 1960s sit-ins in the south.

Trip to the National Civil Rights Museum, at the Lorraine Motel, 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN with my cousin, Christopher Jardine (2019)
“Standing Up by Sitting Down”
The first national peaceful protest in America is honored through this permanent exhibit located at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, 450 Mulberry Street in Memphis, TN. (2019)
Photo by Christopher Jardine

Woolworth’s Today ❤️

The last Woolworth’s store in the United States closed its doors in 1997. While other retailers have used its name in many variations across the world, only a couple of those chains and corporations are currently connected to the original F.W. Woolworth Company brand.

In the US, the company restructured, existing as Foot Locker, Inc. which sells sports apparel and footwear, and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. (FL) ☮️

References

International Civil Rights Center and Museum website

http://footlocker.com

National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel website

NYSE: The New York Stock Exchange (Website)

www.goodreads.com

“Remembering Woolworth’s, A Nostalgic History of the World’s Most Famous Five and Dime,”Karen Plunkett-Powell, St. Martin’s Press; 1999

Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History website

🍋💚🍋💚🍋💚🍋💚🍋💚🍋💚🍋💚🍋💚

Published by Lemon Twist

💛Kansas City Girl 💛Freelance Writer 💛Baker University Grad 💛Love my family, my hometown and anything from the 1960s💛🍋💛

4 thoughts on “Worth Every Trip ❤️

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