Woolworth the money -- and the memory

January 25, 1994|By Franklin Mason

A PAIR of socks, a snow scraper, a shot tower.

He was downtown at Howard and Lexington. He'd come for Woolworth's.

They were closing the store at 223 W. Lexington. The newspaper ad had said: "GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. EVERYTHING 80 PERCENT OFF. FINAL HOURS."

It was his personal Woolworth. Six decades ago, he was there or near there six days a week.

In the '30s, he'd worked at Hochschild's for $13 a week. He needed Woolworth.

Now it seemed the thing to do. To go, stop there, take a look-in there.

So he went in, and nothing was the same, yet much was. Or maybe it was only memory. (Maybe he wasn't the same.)

He used to buy socks at 10 cents a pair, maybe a necktie for a nickel more.

He looked about and knew there must be something. He had to have something, something for parting, a farewell gift, but something he needed. Yes, he saw a pair of reputable socks at a respectable price. He always needed socks. At home all his socks were divorced, gone from their mates. He took the socks.

And a snow scraper for his car's windshield. (Turned out he'd be needing that.)

But socks and scraper were mundane. He needed something more. He looked at the postcards. He collected Baltimore postcards. And there it was: the Shot Tower. It was the first time he'd seen it on a postcard. He took the Shot Tower.

He went to the cashier, paid $2 and change. It was Woolworth the money, he thought. That's what they used to say: Woolworth the money.

He'd wear the socks, scrape the snow, put the Shot Tower in place.

He took a last look around, said good-bye under he breath and went out.

It was Woolworth the money -- and the memory.

Franklin Mason is a retired Evening Sun copy editor.

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