27 January, 2009

The Last of Woolworths

Sometimes little fragments of San Francisco's past linger on. Perhaps it was just too much trouble to take the sign down. Perhaps a longtime employee at BART or MUNI at the Powell Street station likes the idea of leaving this little reminder hanging from the ceiling in front of the old entrance to the basement of the store. The store has been closed for many years, replaced by the charmless GAP emporium. Woolworths; one of the pleasures of a trip "downtown" in The City of yore.
To long-time residents, Woolworths was much more than just a version of Walgreens or Rite Aid.
The smell hit you the moment you entered the doors. That weird and wonderful mix of popcorn, hot dogs rotating on little broilers, candy and Ben Hur perfume. It was an enormous store. You could get anything at Woolworths. It was full of characters and employees who probably spent the better part of their lives behind the counters. I loved the lunch counter, the candy selection, the record department and, of course, the toy department. I loved the downstairs at the store; that's where they kept the pets. I bought a goldfish there once and a Habitrail for my hampster. Everytime I walk by this sign in the Powell Street Station the memories come flooding back. My thanks to whomever is guarding that old sign.

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