The last of the UK Woolworth's High street stores closed today - (Our own local shop in Newbury closed last week) and with the closure, a part of my own, and I am sure many other "Baby Boomer" childhoods disappeared.
"Woollies" was not just a shop - it was part of my history. It was where I would happily pester my darling mother for something useless, but passionately desired - and which she could not afford, most times that I went in with her. In those days, most parents knew how to use the word 'No' effectively, so my pleadings would go unheeded - but one or two of the items would almost certainly appear under the tree "From Father Christmas". He must have known Woolworth's VERY well indeed. (Though even he could not rescue them this time).
I remember shopping with her there from the age of about four - but definitely earlier than that in pre-memory, probably in my pram. It was Sweetie Paradise to most people, as well - in fact, the memories of "Woolies sweets" seems to be on most people's lips in the interviews that I have heard recently.
And oh, the Sales... pure Paradise for kids, with REAL bargains, overflowing from heaped-up bins - none of the fancy "marketing displays" of today - "pile it high, sell it cheap" was definitely their motto in the 1950's. Woolworth's was a synonym for "Cheap" - the products and the workplace - there was often a threat to people of my age that if you did not work hard in school "you will end up working in Woolworth's" - the spectre of a dead end job that was supposed to spur us into dedication to our studies. That image changed considerably over the years, but the dead end has now sadly come to fruition in a different way.
I had a last walk around last week - and I am sure that I was not the only person with a few tears running down my cheek. Surely Woolies could not be closing down? If this was happening, then civilisation as we know it really must be coming to an end.
But of course, it hasn't - though I think many of our lives will have changed a good deal economically by this time next year. What are your own memories of "Woolies" if you live in the UK - and wherever you live, what moves are you making to adapt to the changes that will be affecting all our lives?
Farewell Woolies - commiserations and good wishes to the 27000 employees whose jobs have now disappeared.