General Letter No.5

5-23-16-1.

ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                    New York, May 22nd 1916.

GENERAL LETTER NO. 5

You will see by the above, that this letter is dictated in New York. In the last letter, we left you as we arrived in San Francisco. So many things happened since I dictated general letter No.4 some of the details may have escaped my memory.

I forgot to mention in my other letter, the difference in temperature after we left Modesto in California and the last few miles of our trip to San Francisco, that is, as soon as we approached the mountains, the air commenced to grow much cooler and for the first time  we had been in California, we noticed grass growing naturally without irrigation, and the beautiful hills we passed through were covered with luxurious grass and trees and we commenced to feel we were back in the Eastern part of the United States – the air was so bracing and so unlike what we had passed through and notwithstanding the awful heat we experienced before we got to Oakland, we were shivering with cold. Mr. Rand told us repeatedly it would be cold enough when we got to San Francisco and he would guarantee it would be cold, and his guarantee held good, for when we arrived at the hotel, we were chilled through.

The next morning, Friday, May 5th, we opened our eyes, looked out the window and saw that our hotel was on a high elevation, overlooking the city, formerly called Nobb Hill.

It seemed that the San Francisco newspapers had heralded our arrival the day before, and the telephone bells commenced to ring in our sitting room before nine o’ clock in the morning, with all kinds of invitations, suggestions, etc. etc.  Among others, was a telephone message from Wm. H.Crocker, one of the most prominent citizens of the Pacific Coast and head of the Crocker National Bank. One telephone message from a lady formerly knew me in Lancaster, Pa. stated she was one of my first customers and she was very anxious to meet me. Another one was from a lad who formerly knew me when I was a clerk in the store in Watertown, N.Y. Other messages were from people who claimed to know me in the East and are now located in San Francisco.    Invitations to dine at different places, photographers, newspaper reporters, tradesmen etc. etc. Mrs. Albright had the opportunity of answering all of these calls before I got out of bed and she seemed to enjoy the excitement.

Mr. Albright and I decided to see the city of San Francisco alone, which was very easy to do, as Mr. Rand and Mr.Weber each had their cars at our disposal, waiting for us outside the hotel. The ladies took one car and we took the other.    We were somewhat frightened in going down to the store, as we had never experienced such steep hills before in our lives. In fact, the principal part of San Francisco is composed of hills. When I say hills, they are nothing but small mountains and the streets are so steep, a trolley car cannot go up or down them and they have to use cables, and it takes mighty good automobiles to go up and down those young mountains. The grade’s run anywhere from 5% to 27%, and 27% grade as you know, is a very steep hill. It is the one great attraction we had through San Francisco.  The street car line make more money per mile than any other street car line in the world, so they say, because of the hills and nearly everybody rides in them instead of walking up the hills.

–   – over – –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE.                                                        5-23-16-3.

ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                                                                    New York, May 22nd, 1916.

We went to the St. Francis Hotel at first to call on Mrs. Knox and Mrs. Goodyear, who were stopping there, but they had left for the day. The main floor of the St. Francis Hotel is one of the handsomest I have ever seen anywhere and it is a credit to any city in the world. You will notice I have gotten in the habit of calling everything, “the finest in the world”. I got the habit of saying “in the world”, for out there you never say anything is the handsomest in the city or country, but it is always “the world”, so I hope you will pardon me for using that expression so often. Of course, when we tell them the Woolworth Building is the “highest in the world”, it doesn’t have the same effect out there as it does in the east – people naturally don’t believe such stories

We were soon on Market St., San Francisco and made a visit to our Market St. store, which is one of the most successful stores we have on the Pacific Coast and will do credit to any of our stores in the East. The manager, Mr. C. E. Stahl is to be congratulated on the wonderful show windows and the interior of the store, which was handsomely trimmed and decorated in honor of the occasion of our visit to San Francisco. We saw the words “Welcome, Woolworth Week”, “Welcome to our President”, etc. etc, Mr. Albright decided we would surprise them all and not let ourselves be known, as we knew very well there wasn’t a single person in the store that ever saw us before. We had only gone about twenty feet in the store, however, when a bright little sales girl came out from behind her counter, came directly up to us and said “Welcome, Mr.  Woolworth, to California” and she pinned a rosebud upon my lapel. I asked her how she knew I was Mr. Woolworth and it seems she had been expecting me, and said she knew me by my photograph. The rest of the employees seemed to be very much pleased to see that I was somewhat embarrassed by my welcome in the store. The manager, however, was not in the store as he was waiting for me at our San Francisco Office.

We then visited our offices in the Rialto Building and even the girl that had charge of salesmen, etc., when we came into the office, seemed to know me and welcomed me into the office. Quite different from the young lady in the St. Louis Office – she let me pass through by my picture, but would not let Mr. Albright, as she had never seen his picture. Furthermore, we were not expected in St. Louis Office, while we were expected in San Francisco Office.

We found the rooms all handsomely decorated with flowers, and when I say flowers, they were the handsomest kind of flowers, beautifully arranged in honor of our visit. We were introduced to all the officials or the San Francisco Office and went through the entire office, which was in wonderful condition and very handsomely furnished, and a great credit to the Woolworth Co.

Mr. Rand had taken the precaution to notify all of the managers of the different stores in the neighborhood of San Francisco and they were there at the office to greet us. The telephone bell was ringing and kept Mr. Rand busy with inquiries about us and invitations extended to us of all sorts and descriptions. Among the invitations was a luncheon to be given in our honor the following Monday, another one on Tuesday, another one on Wednesday by three different clubs. The Commercial Club, The Rotary Club and another club, of which I have forgotten the name. All of these clubs were giving these luncheons in my honor and I was expected to make speeches. The Commercial Club alone has a membership of three thousand, so you can imagine what a mess the President of your Company would have made before an audience of that kind – the biggest men in California. I was obliged to decline all these invitations. One of the reasons was, we did not expect to stay in San Francisco so long, another was, I did not feel equal to the occasion.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE.       5-23-16-3

ALL OFFICES AND STORES.               New York, May 22nd, 1916

From the Office we went to the Palace Hotel, where Mr. Rand secured a room and prepared an elaborate luncheon for the mangers in San Francisco and the adjoining stores. The following gentlemen were present:

Mr. W. J. Rand, Jr. General Manager   San Francisco Office
Mr. R W Weber Asst. Manager   San Francisco Office
Mr. C C Foster, Jr. Supt.   Construction
Mr. D E Borg Accountant
Mr. F B Gardner Supt. Seattle   District
Mr. H S Crowther Supt. Salt Lake   District
Mr. J U Thompson Traffic Manager
Mr. F W Woolworth
Mr. H H Albright
Mr. C E Stahl Manager, Market   St. San Francisco
Mr. W J Holbrook Manager,   Oakland, Cal.
Mr. Carl J Merritt Manager, Mission   St. San Francisco
Mr. C J Nealis Manager, Sacramento,   Cal.
Mr. G W Johnston Manager, Fresno,   Cal.
Mr. F W Howarth Manager, San   Jose, Cal.
Mr. G C Sivley Manger,   Stockton, Cal.
Mr. G A Besaw Manager, Santa   Rosa, Cal
Mr. O G Sanderson Manager, Reno.   Nevada.
Mr. F E Kertz Manager,   Vallejo, Cal.
Mr. J S Kirk Manager,   Marysville, Cal
Mr. J R Upham Manager, Chico,   Cal
Mr. A G Patterson Manager, Santa   Cruz, Cal
Mr. C L DD Cummings

A flashlight picture was taken of all of these gentlemen sitting at the table, but it proved to be a failure and we never saw it.

The table was very handsomely decorated with flowers and they had an elegant luncheon for us. Everyone of these managers made an impromptu speech and told of their various experiences and how they got into the five and ten cent business and worked up to their present positions, which were very interesting to all of us. Of course Mr. Albright, Mr. Rand and myself had to make a few remarks. We found all the men connected with the San Francisco Office and the stores, very, enthusiastic and very live wires, and they seemed to be unable to do too much for us, in fact, it appeared to them to be a great holiday, the same as it was for us. The luncheon and speeches lasted about two hours and a half, and this was the welcome your President got in San Francisco ‘free, our own men. Of course, it must be understood that I did not take it as a personal favor to myself, but a favor to the Company as a whole, and I being its principal representative.  They would have done just as much for any other high official of the Company,

While I was in Mr. Rand’s Office, before the luncheon, a handsome young lady came to call upon me and wanted me to visit a certain photograph gallery and have my picture taken for publication, and after the luncheon I went to this studio and had several pictures taken. They not only took my photograph in various poses, but also took one or two pictures in colors, which is very unusual for most photographers to do.

– over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE,                                              5-23-16-4.

ALL OFFICES AND STORES                                                                 New York, May 23nd, 1916.

After visiting the photograph gallery, I was invited by the proprietor and editors of the San Francisco Chronicle to visit their building, one of the few buildings which stood up during the earthquake. We were introduced to the officials of the newspaper and were quietly told they wanted to use me for advertising purposes and they would do me a lot of good and do themselves a lot of good, if I would allow them to do certain things. I told them to go as far as they liked.

They took me on top of the building, where I got a wonderful view of the city.   They had a photographer up there to take our party in different positions with the editors of the paper. One of the pictures of myself was published Sunday morning, in which I appeared to be peering over the parapet wall on the top of the building out onto San Francisco, with a long newspaper article in regard to our visit to the Coast. In fact, two principal newspapers in San Francisco competed with each other in trying to give me as much prominence as possible.

When the reporter of the San Francisco Examiner found out that the Chronicle people had me up on the roof and had my picture taken, they were very much disappointed.

Another visit to the office and back to the hotel, and Mr. Rand invited Mrs. Knox and Mrs. Goodyear and our party to a “Unique Italian Dinner”, at “Bonini’s Manger”, a place fitted up like a stable, with hay, straw, sawdust on the floor and live pigeons’ walking around – very crude and rough tables and chairs. This is considered one of the sights of San Francisco, It is difficult to secure tables, as the place is very small.

After this Italian Dinner, we visited “Chinatown”, which is not much of a sight, as the modern Chinatown, built since the earthquake is more civilized in appearance and it is simply composed of a street full of very attractive stores, run by chinamen. That comprised our first day’s visit to San Francisco,

– over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE.                                               5-23-1—5.

ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                                                                   New York, May 22nd, 1916.

Saturday, May 6th, Mr. Rand, Mr. Albright and myself, accepted an invitation from Mayor Davies to visit the City of Oakland, which is just across the bay. We were met at the finest hotel in Oakland by the Mayor, Commission Counsel of the City, President and Representative of the Chamber of Commerce. Several automobiles were lined up outside of the Hotel waiting to take us through the city. I was invited to go into the major’s automobile, a Packard Twin Six. R, B. Adams, President of the Farmers & Traders Bank, F. L. Lavenson of R.C.Coppwell’s Department Store, and J.R. Lawrence, President of the Chamber of Commerce, all of whom escorted us around the beautiful City of Oakland and around the Skyline Boulevard, a new road which has been constructed on the crest of the mountains, just back of Oakland. We were about two hours making this trip, and the scenery from the skyline of the mountains was certainly very grand. We could see over San Francisco looking clear through the Golden Gate onto the Pacific and the long stretch up and down the bay, one of the greatest harbors in the world.

We were shown the beautiful residences of Oakland and we finally came down the boulevard into Berkeley, where we visited the Greek Theatre, an open amphitheatre, a place made of cement by William R. Hearst and was given to the city by him. They have wonderful open air entertainments there.

We then rode past the wonderful grounds and buildings of the California University and drove back to Oakland again to the City Hall, the highest building on the Pacific Coast, except the Smith Building in Seattle. The Mayor took us through this building and showed his private office and all the other different offices in the building, a very handsome building, only been finished about a year and a half.

Oakland is a City of over 300,000 and if they would take in the adjoining cities, which are really part of Oakland, there would be a population of about 375,000 in other words, nearly as large as San Francisco itself. San Francisco cannot grow very much larger and Oakland has the possibility of being the largest city on the Pacific Coast (world).

During all this time I had not had a chance to visit our Oakland store and I was a little embarrassed to know just how to get into that store with all those officials along with me. I finally mentioned the fact to the Mayor, that I would like to visit the store before returning to San Francisco, and he said “Alright, we will go right to the store”. I said to him, “I suppose you were never in a five and ten cent store, as gentlemen very seldom visit our stores”, and he replied “I am in your store nearly every week- I am one of your customers”, which of course was much to my surprise.  We all landed in front of the store, got out and went in it, and the manager was there to greet us. They, of course, all thought it was a marvelous store, wonderfully kept, etc. which was all true. The manager had the store up in nice condition. There was one gentleman who did not join our party, but when he heard we were going to the store, he was there to meet us. He was the Judge of the Highest Court in Oakland, a very fine gentleman. He also said he was a regular customer in our store, so you can see we get the best people there are in the country as customers in our stores.

We bid the Mayor and his Officials “good-bye” and soon after their departure, we went back to San Francisco, and that night we dined at the

EXECUTIVE OFFICE.                                                 5-23-16-6

ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                                                               New York, May 22nd, 1916.

St. Francis Hotel, as Mr. and Mrs. Rand decided to make our stay in San Francisco as pleasant as possible. We had a very elaborate and well selected dinner, one of the best we had on the Coast, and we want to congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Rand, or whoever got up that dinner for us. Besides Mr. and Mrs. Rand, was Mr. Weber, Mr. and Mrs. Foster, Mr. Gardner and Mr. Crowther.

Back to the Hotel, to bed again.

Sunday, May 7th. We started off in the forenoon with automobiles and took a ride around San Francisco, including the Exposition Grounds, part of the buildings of which were demolished, but we got a good idea of what the buildings must have been like in all their glory. We were rather disappointed, however, in seeing the grounds and buildings so small in comparison with Chicago and St. Louis Expositions. No doubt the grounds and buildings were very handsome, especially at night.

We then went through the Golden Gate Park and to the famous Cliff House, which is located on the coast, in which we saw the famous sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks, although there was a very heavy wind blowing and the Pacific Ocean was anything but Pacific. The wind was blowing so hard, when we ever viewing these seals in the ocean, we were invited to go into a sheltered lookout and peer through some strong glasses. Of course, there was a gentleman there that was telling us about the wonderful sights and of the greatest harbor in the world, but he failed to tell us it was the greatest ocean in the world. I had to inform him the principal sight was the ocean and that it was the largest in the world, which was news to him.

We then took a drive along the coast – a famous drive which is used a good deal, especially on Sundays. We drove back from the coast several miles, through beautiful country and visited Mrs. Hermance, the mother of the District Manager Hermance of the Atlanta Office.

After having a very fine lunch in a little hotel, we drove to William H. Crocker’s Estate, as he had given Mr. Rand and our party, permission to go through it on Sunday, which is very unusual. We were conducted through the Estate by the gardener. He certainly has a wonderful place. Inside the house was handsomely furnished and decorated with wonderful paintings, but the garden surrounding this wonderful place was very beautiful and flowers were very much in evidence. There were various kinds of tropical trees and shrubs, and it certainly was a very interesting place to visit,

We visited Stamford University, which has all been re-built since the earthquake, as the earthquake of 1906 nearly demolished the buildings. We also saw the famous chapel with the wonderful Mosiacs (sic) on the exterior and also on the interior. These were also called the greatest there were in the world and there was nothing in the world to compare with it, according to our guide. The roof of the chapel was built of wood for fear of another shake-down of the elements.

We then proceeded back to San Francisco in an endless procession of automobiles and I think there were more automobiles on that road than any road that goes out of New York City, as this is the principal drive out of San Francisco. The roads were perfect, and when I say perfect, I mean they were very smooth and free from dust. We went back into San Francisco through another route, and I was surprised to see so many frame houses. It is very evident to me that they were afraid to put up anything else, as they undoubtedly expected another shake some day.  In fact all of San Francisco is built of frame houses, with the exception of a small restricted district in the business centre.

ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                                                                    New York, May 23nd, 1916.

I shall have to make a little comment here on the architecture of these houses, which to my mind was very bad. I can’t conceive why it is necessary to put up such homely houses, but in the business centre of the city, the buildings are very substantial and of very fine architecture.

Sunday evening we were invited to dinner by Mr. and Mrs. Rand and their party, at the Palace Hotel. A large orchestra rendered very fine music for our entertainment. These were called “Sunday Pop Concerts”.

Monday, May 8th.  We made preparations to leave San Francisco and we bought a through ticket from San Francisco to New York, by way of Seattle, a distance of about four thousand miles or $78.10 each, which we considered very low fare. This ticket was good for ten days and also good to stop off at all the principal places.

I was invited by Mr. William H. Crocker to be the principal guest of honor at the Pacific Union Club for luncheon, one of the finest clubs in San Francisco and a magnificent building, opposite the Fairmount Hotel. This wonderful club was originally the private home of Mr. Flood, one of the original “Big Four” of California. It had been enlarged and decorated and put into fine condition, for a first class club. At the little luncheon party that was given, besides Mr. Crocker, Mr. Albright, Mr. Rand and myself, was – N. B. Anderson, President of the Bank of California, J, S, Tobin, Hibernian Savings Bank, Wellington Gregg, Jr., Cashier of the Crocker National Bank, Thornwell Mullally of the United Railways, Roy Bishop, Assistant President of the Palace and Fairmount
Hotels, J. D. Grant and R. M. Tobin, and several other prominent gentlemen, making a party of about fifteen and all prominent citizens in San Francisco.    It was a very interesting and entertaining luncheon, although no formal speeches of any kind were made.

It was certainly very nice of Mr. Crocker to pay us so much attention, especially with nothing but plain five and ten cent men and he is a very fine gentleman and one of the best known and influential men in California.  In fact, we nominated him President of the United States at the luncheon and he was unanimously nominated by the gentlemen at the table, for President of the United States.

In the meantime, however, he had gone through a very hot campaign and was elected delegate to the National Republican Convention at Chicago over which he seemed very much elated, although he is not a politician and never held any kind of any office before.

In the evening we were invited to Mr. Rand’s home for dinner, at which we had a very enjoyable time. His home is located in a very fine apartment overlooking the Golden Gate, the bay and the whole City of San Francisco.     The dining room was handsomely decorated with flowers and we had the first home cooked dinner we had since leaving New York.

This comprises only a few of the entertainments that Mr. & Mrs. Rand gave us while in San Francisco.

Tuesday the 9th of May, we left San Francisco on the 11 o’clock train for Seattle, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Rand.

F. W. WOOLWORTH.(6)

 

 

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