Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Friday, March 5, 2010

Woolworth Memories

As I worked on my genealogy the past 30+ years I gathered postcards of places associated with my ancestors and my own lifetime. In the older days I found them by patiently searching through boxes of old postcards at antique stores. I did find some great ones that way, including the location of a Civil War battle one of my ancestors was in: The Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

Now I search on e-bay. Easier to focus in on particular areas like Great Bend, Kansas where my family lived from when I was about 3 to 13. I have fond memories of the downtown area, the stores that lined the streets around the old stately county courthouse. The Crest Theater where I first saw "Snow White" and a magic show with dogs. The bank building with the stately marble columns that later became a jewelry store. And my favorite, the Woolworth store.

I remember that store vividly. The uneven wooden floors that creaked with every step, the open bins that were about waist-high and allowed even a child to look across the store and keep her Mother in sight. The office on the balcony along the back a mysterious seeming place. It was there we went for school supplies, the pink jewelry box that was a treat for "being good" at the dentist's office, my first nylons, and other memorable purchases.

Someday I will find an interior photo of that particular store but for now I am happy to have a postcard of where it sat along the street. I remember walking along that sidewalk in the summer in a red peasant dress and in the winter in a heavy coat and golashes. My Mom and my older sister taking me to that wonderland of toys, crayons and new anklets.

Next week I am giving a talk at ASU on writing memoir. This postcard will have a special place in my story and I hope will inspire others to hunt for their memories in antique stores and through the Internet.


  1. I loved those 5 and dimes when I was little. I don't think the one near us was a Woolworths, but my friend and I used to walk there-about 5 blocks away in the summertime and buy paperdolls and embroidery floss and hair ribbons. I loved going to the dime store!!!

  2. What a wonderful memory and an even better idea! I've purchased a couple post cards from ebay of my tiny little hometown in Pennsylvania, but never thought of looking for others that might correspond to my family history! Wish I could come down and sit in on your talk!


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