5 and 10
The same day someone posted the “Remember This?” picture of book covers on Facebook, someone else posted a picture of F.W. Woolworth’s 5 and 10, so I was deep into memories.
We always called it just the 5 and 10, and my favorite was in Harvard Square. If I was really lucky, when I was in elementary school, my Aunt Dot and Uncle Sam would take me there after my piano lesson on Saturdays.
I would head straight for the stationery department to buy supplies for playing school. (More about that in a future post.) There was a wonderful item called correspondence cards, and they were perfect for the report cards I insisted on issuing. Of course there were pencils, paper, crayons, paper clips and other items, such as ink and blotters, which I felt I needed. There was no central check-out, so most counters had a clerk who would help you with your selection and then ring up the sale. Not surprisingly I became good friends with the elderly clerk in the stationery department as I spent most of my allowance at her counter.
When I was in junior high, I could go to the 5 and 10 in Medford Square, usually on the bus. That is where I bought the oilcloth mentioned in the last post but also where I bought small cosmetic items like bobby pins, lipstick , and nail polish. I also bought yarn, 15 cents a skein, to use for afghan squares and for something called spool knitting or “horse’s reins.” Interestingly enough, I never bought candy or gum. Those purchases were reserved for the neighborhood store.
Woolworth’s gained a certain notoriety for lunch counter sit-ins in the South in 1960, but if either of these Woolworth’s had a lunch counter, I don’t remember it. I do remember the wooden floors, the narrow aisles, and the many tempting items.
I remember that it was exciting to shop by myself even at an early age., to make selections, to make decisions about money. Even browsing was fun because you never knew what might catch your fancy. After all, Bing Crosby found a million dollar baby at the 5 and 10 cent store!
© Dorothy C. Judd
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