NICKEL and DIMIN' IT
by Eva Pasco
Woolworth's was one of the original
American five-and-dime stores.
The very first Woolworth was founded by Frank Winfield Woolworth in 1878 on a loan of $300. It was one
of the first American retailers to display the merch on counters for the shopping public to handle and select
without the assistance of a sales clerk. I daresay this notion launched the nation’s unabashed “Shop
Till You Drop" legacy. Woolworth's eventually incorporated lunch counters. The one
in Greensboro, North Carolina gained notoriety
1, 1960 when four African-American students sat down at a segregated lunch
counter and were refused service. This sparked six months of sit-ins and boycotts, marking it a landmark
historical event in our nation’s Civil Rights movement.
In the Sixties, the
five-and-dime store on
St. morphed into the large discount store you were
apt to find in "strip malls" in the burbs, stripped of unique architecture and character, that’s for sure.
In 1962 Woolworth's became Woolco. That same year a domino effect took hold where S.S. Kresge opened
Kmart; Dayton's opened
Target; Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart.
Back in the Sixties when
you could "trust your car to the man with the star--Texaco," and he'd squeegee your window, check yer
oil, while fillin' er up for $.35 or less per gal of regular, my sister and I
enjoyed those spur of the moment car jaunts after supper when our dad needed to run out for
cigarettes. His were filter tipped Raleighs with a coupon on the back of each pack you could redeem for household
items. Leaving my mother behind to fend for herself in the kitchen, the three of us would take off in the
Our dad's cigarette run
usually veered toward the humble village of Centredale. My
sister and I would bolt from the wagon’s back doors and scoot inside King's Five-and-Dime or Adam's Drugstore,
delightfully intoxicated by junk. Tossing pennies from heaven into the gumball machine
or twisting our fortune with the ring machine were merely preludes to strolling along the counters in
each aisle. My most outrageous acquisition during one such jaunt was a pair of silver studded orange
cat eye sunglasses. I'm sure I thought I was the cat's meow.
Today a nickel or dime
can't even get you a song play on a jukebox. Used to be a nickel or a dime could buy you a postage stamp, soft
drink, coffee, popcorn, newspaper, or amusement park ticket. However, free speech will afford you the
opportunity to complain that our economy is nickel and dimin’ us to death.
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copy of the
Signed copies of the Paperback, 40 % off suggested retail,
may be acquired at the Authors Den Signed Bookstore via Eva’s web page: http://www.authorsden.com/evapasco