This vernacular photograph was given to me on my birthday by my best friend. She shares my passion for old photos, but she has enough sense to pass them on instead of burying herself as I have done. I'm very lucky.

F.W. Woolworth_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

F. W. Woolworth was the place to shop. I always enjoyed Woolworths and wish they were still around just as I remember them. I can remember the one in Harrisburg, PA that had little sections on the countertops full of little toys. I loved running my hand through the marbles. Wish I still had my bag of marbles, but I lost my marbles a long time ago. I don't think I need to hear any comments about that.

My maternal grandparents lived in Harrisburg and whenever we went to visit my grandmother, my mother, and I would go downtown to Pomeroy's and Woolworths. At Woolworths we would sit at the counter and have lunch. The most vivid memory I have is when my grandmother bought me some little plastic Disney characters. Like the marbles, there was a section, sort of a tiny bin, full of all sorts of little people and animals. I was told I could pick out 4 figures, at least that's all I have left. I worried over which ones to get. I'd take one out and put it in  my hand while I pushed aside others in the bin. I'm still pleased with my choices. Pinocchio, Daisy Duck, Dopey, and Peter Pan. All less than an inch and a half tall. Now mind you at that age I had two crushes. I was in love with Peter Pan and the Everly Brothers. I don't know, it's just how my mind worked. And I do have stories about Phil Everly, but I'll save them for another time. Anyway...

What really interests me in this photo are the Woolworth girls. I'm sure they were referred to as "the girls" and not women. I'd say the shot was from the late 20s to maybe mid-30s. I have no idea where it was taken other than the obvious...Woolworths. One sign says "Nothing in this store more than 15 cents." Can you imagine? A whole store where every item cost 15 cents or less? You can bet some of these items are now on sale at eBay for a heck of a lot more. Sure do miss the Five and Dime stores.

I have posted sort of a "companion piece" about working women at my ephemera site. When this shot was taken it hadn't been all that long that women were full-time in the work force. Were they married or unmarried? Seems to have been a bit of thorny issue with some people, but you'll have to read the letters from Comfort magazine here.


  1. Loved Woolworth's, remember having a rootbeer float in one. And, by the way, LOVED the Everly Brothers, had a pair of Tiny Tears dolls (dueling grandmothers) that I named after them.(Okay, I didn't know boys were "different" back then.)

  2. I LOVE it! Phil and Don the Tiny Tears Brothers. Very funny. Now why didn't I think of that? I had one Tiny Tears and one Betsey Wetsey. Neither ever came out of storage.

    And ohhhhh a rootbeer float sounds really good.

  3. I know, wonder where one would go these days to get one.

  4. I haven't seen root beer floats listed for a very long time. As a child my favorite place for them was down at the Jolly Rogers restaurant in Waikiki. My best friend has memories of this too. We'd order a root beer float and a piece of coconut pie. It was heaven. And you'd stick the straw in the glass very very very slooooooooowly because the contents would come oozing over the top and sides. Good times. I could really go for a good fountain style float.

  5. I had a "tiny tears" and one of my sisters had a big "Betsy Wetsy".

    I remember all the stores having tables.

    One store, somewhere a distance from where we lived had several floors and an elevator. But it wasn't anything like the movies! It was dark with very few employees. The shop that sold the Browine and Scout clothes was in the attic. I had gotten lost on the first floor among the tables and couldn't see over them to find my mother.

    By the time we made to the Scouting shop, I was ready for the vampires and such to just put me out of my misery.

  6. Isn't it amazing how memories like this stay with us forever? The sense of the place. The overwhelming size. Places that seemed ominous because of our size. They're forever these little odd movies we run in our heads. I like the idea of vampires in the Scouts department. Hmmm...what badge would that be?

  7. Hahah, That would be the "Clean Pants" badge!

  8. You guys had fun with this post before I even showed up!

    I Love the Phil and Don Tiny Tears!

    You had Coconut Cream pie Too?
    I only had the root beer float. That does explain why you got sick leaving the restaurant one time.

    As to the scout uniforms upstairs in the dark.. I remember that too.( different State and time).It was upstairs at Penney's. We had to walk the stairs. It was sort of a loft. No sweet memories there.

    I did love Woolworth's: Little dolls in plastic trays on tables. I remember a little bisque doll with a glass bottle. I wanted that so badly.

  9. I'm really trying to imagine the Scout Masters sitting around trying to come up with a badge that could be easily cranked out that says "Clean Pants" without offending the mother's of the Scouts. And of course the girls would wear it ever so proudly on their sashes. And all you had to do was survive the top floor of Woolworths!

  10. Oh yes, always had the pie with the float. And people just thought I was energetic. It was just the sugar. I really have no memory of eating anything else at Jolly Rogers. Just pie and float. And feeding the sparrows under the thatched umbrellas.

    Hmmmmm...Penny's a scary Scout section too? The only Scout place I remember was in Capwell's and it was in a well lighted area. But by then I'd given up on Scouts.

    Oh yes, the bins of tiny plastic pink baby dolls. Loved those!

  11. Anonymous12/23/2017

    Did the Woolworth's in Harrisburg have a basement section where they sold kid's clothes? ... I have a memory from the early seventies of entering the basement of a store on Market Street in that general area and going to the basement floor where the kids clothes were and was under the impression it may have been a Woolworth's but I could be wrong ....

    1. Sorry, I can't help you. The last time I was in the Harrisburg Woolworth's was back in the early '60s. All I remember is the one floor.