Author’s Note


This virtual weblog consists of a collection of General Letters written by Frank Winfield Woolworth and some of his senior executives during the period 1915 to 1916 for internal consumption in the then burgeoning 5 & dime store chain that bore his name. They are just a small sample but nevertheless will give the reader a good insight to both the man and the times in which he was building what was to become a vast enterprise both in America and overseas. The letters themselves came to light in the mid 1970’s when Woolworths in the UK was undergoing a change of ownership and a clear out of the archives in Head Office was in progress. They were rescued by a colleague of mine and after I retired from the Business in 1998 I held onto them for a few years before transcribing and publishing them now that the weblog platform had become freely available. Enjoy.


Colin Higgins

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Letter from Nuernberg Germany



US CANADA AND ENGLAND                         “Winfield Hall, ”

Glen Cove, Long Island,

                                                       November 24, 1915.

I received the following personal letter from our representative from Nuernberg, Germany:

“Maes-Hotel, Rotterdam, Nov, 9, 1915.

“Dear Mr. Woolworth.

I am here in Rotterdam with my wife. We were married in Leipzig on November 6th. The lady I have known for sometime. She was in Paris and had an institute for young ladies and was doing a very nice business when the war broke out and she had to leave Paris at a few hours’ notice.    I have since had an opportunity to get better acquainted with her and feel sure she will be a good wife and companion to me. When you come to Europe again we shall be glad to have you come and see us. With kind regards

Yours sincerely,

B. F. Hunt,”

“P.S. – Mr. Valentine is due here this evening and I am here with order copies and other evidence which I hope will be sufficient to get the additional permit.”


No doubt most of you will be surprised at above news. Mr. Hunt is known by a good many of our boys. He is over seventy years old and the oldest man (in years) in the business. He has taken care of our Nuernberg business for several years and although seventy or more years old is really only fifty in actions and has tired out many of our young buyers when they accompanied him while hustling for goods in Europe. Of course he feels much younger now since his recent marriage. Mr. Hunt was born in the same County and State I was born in but has lived in Europe ten years or more. We all join in congratulations for the happiness of Mr. and Mrs. Hunt and hope they will live to a ripe old age.

Yours Truly,

(1)                                                                                    F. W. WOOLWORTH.

Posted in 1915 | Leave a comment

A trip to England and Holland during World War 1


ALL OFFICES 1234                                                  131615-1

EXCEPT TORONTO AND ENGLAND                      New York, December 15, 1915


At Mr. Woolworth’s request, I will try and give you a little idea of conditions now prevailing abroad and the many difficulties and dangers attending to a limited trip such as mine.

I left New York for Europe to secure permission from the British Government to ship our goods of German and Austrian manufacture to the United States and sailed on the SS “Finland”, on Sunday October 24th, at noon.

The SS “Finland” was formerly of the Red Star Line, running from Antwerp, Belgium, to New York, but when Belgium was invaded by the Germans, this vessel being one of the fleet of the International Mercantile Marine, was changed to New York and Panama service.

She arrived at Colon at the time of the present slide that has blocked the Panama Canal and after laying there almost a month was recalled to take the place of the SS “Lapland” on account of that vessel having been ordered to Canada to transport troops to England.

On the New York – Panama run her crew had been one of all nations but to comply with present war regulations her crew had to be all Americans or English, or men from neutral nations.

The limited time after the Vessel’s return from Colon to discharge her cargo and reload for England and secure a new complement of crew and men, resulted in our having a rather nondescript crew. They were as new to the ship as the passengers, and many amusing instances occurred from their lack of knowledge of this vessel and her arrangement, during the first three days of the trip.

The vessel not being a regular passenger trans – Atlantic liner, was not in any way like the luxurious vessels you have read about, as these wonderful “Queens of the Sea” have either been turned into transports for troops or destroyed by submarines or interned in Hoboken, N.J. so the only thing to do is stay on deck or in your room, as there was no Social Hall, no Library, only a small writing room and smoking room.

The passengers in the first cabin numbered about 81, everyone except about four going abroad on serious missions, either to hasten to the bedside of some dying soldier, or to take part in the war as a soldier or nurse, or engaged in an important business transaction, which made personal safety secondary to the success of their respective callings. You will understand from this that they were by no means a very cheerful or hilarious lot.

As we cleared the dock and turned down the river starting South no one knowing what our fate might be, we were all a sad and a gloomy lot, and while the sailing of an ocean liner always seems to be a time of sadness and grief to those who part, it seemed to me on this particular occasion, there were enough tears shed to have a very appreciable effect on the amount of water in the river, and I must confess as I passed the Woolworth Building where friends so kindly hung out the flag as a last parting, my eyes were dimmed like the rest, but as I gazed upon it and realized that it stood emblematic of “Success”,  I took an extra dab at my eyes and determined to do my little bit at any cost to prove worthy of the confidence of the man who had built this building and of the big company whose home it was and whom I was going abroad to represent.

On applying to the Steward for table accommodations I was informed the “Captain” had requested the pleasure of my company at his table (pure bunk-the Steward does this himself after sizing up the list and as an added source of revenue for himself). However I was pleased to accept and got to knew the Captain and spent many pleasant hours with him in his quarters and on the bridge,- that sacred place on shipboard where passengers are not allowed.

Owing to the limited number of passengers, by Monday night, everybody knew each other, and ship boundby that common tie of danger shared by all, so we were like one family.

Wednesday at ten o’ clock A.M. all the crew were summoned to quarters for a fire and boat drill and owing to the newness of the crew before referred to, their Weber and Field attempts to clear the boats while extremely amusing from, a burlesque standpoint, convinced the passengers that watched,, that should any submarine torpedo us, the best chance of life was to put on a life belt and jump overboard.

The Captain carefully inspected every boat, and when on Friday, they commenced to run new ropes through all the blocks and falls of the boats, and build new rope ladders and then swing the boats out board prepared for instant launching, the nervous passengers decided to sleep in their clothes.

Monday night when entering the war zone, electric reflectors were extended from the sides of the vessel on long poles to throw the light on the name of the ship and the American flag painted on the sides. It was surprising to find how many passengers were troubled with insomnia that night, and found their deck chairs a pleasant place. Everyone rejoiced and went to sleep when we dropped anchor in Falmouth.

Tuesday night about eight o’clock, a Patrol ship located us and commenced to signal us by flashlights (all wireless being discontinued before entering the war zone) telling us what to do and where to go and

11:30 P.M., it was the happiness born of ignorance as for a while we had successfully braved the perils of the deep sea submarines,etc. We little knew that our troubles were only just beginning.

Wednesday morning, seven A.M., I was awakened by the Steward on account of landing early, and on stepping out of my stateroom ran into a soldier with fixed bayonet, (not the most cheerful thing before breakfast) and rather surprised at his appearance decided to go around another passageway to the Dining Salon, only to find another one on guard and then discovered the ship was completely guarded by soldiers there to watch each and everyone of us, our actions and appearance.

Breakfast over we were ordered to report to the writing room for examination to prove our identity and right to be in England.

The examination is very thorough, and is conducted by two sets of officers, Scotland Yard (Detective Headquarters) and the Army. All are seated at a table, and commence by the examination of your passport, then reference to a report from New York to see if you are scheduled as a suspected person, then examination of  your letters of introduction, personal, etc. to prove identity, next a vigorous cross examination as to why you want to land, your business etc (because they don’t want you and they don’t mind your knowing it), finally you receive a card entitling” you to go on board the tender, and once again you breathe easy and believe your troubles are over, but perish the thought, you have only just started and what is to follow it so much worse as to make this first examination seem like a social call, as I learned later.

When the tender arrived at the dock I was cheered by the sight of Mr. W.L.Stephenson from our London Office there to meet and lend any assistance he could. The examination of the baggage disposed of we proceeded to march to the station. You will note I say “march” because I must digress at this point long enough to say that Falmouth, while a beautiful harbor, lays at the extreme south western point of England, and only the exigencies of war have made it a landing place for American Line and Holland American Line vessels, therefore there are no conveniences for the handling of passengers and some distance from the deck to the Customs enclosure and thence to the station cannot be slighted by terming it a walk – it’s a march –especially when carrying a well loaded bag.

On arriving at the station, we of course, had to wait until the last passenger got on the train so any attempt at hurrying seemed almost a waste of energy and time. This delightful English town with its primitive facilities seemed to exemplify the teaching from the good book “the last shall be first and the first shall be last”. While walking to the platform we heard the tramping of feet and ordering of arms, and looking around saw a squad of soldiers from the ship escorting through a group of men of military age who were trying to sneak through to Germany via England and were now being taken to one of the internment camps. My first thought was “Poor Devils” but then I realized this was just my first sight and of which I saw so many later, of the grimness of war.

We arrived in London at Paddington Station at 9.30 P.M. Wednesday, November 24th and I want again to drop my narrative to tell you of a curious sight that I saw at the end of the station Trurow[sic]; it is a large sign with white letters on a blue background and reads “This town is electrically lit and protected by the Lord’s hand”. I asked Mr. Stephenson about it but he was unable to throw any “light” on the subject, so I am still wondering why that town should be favored by the Almighty, while Edison himself may be the only man who can electrically light us.

On arrival at Paddington I received my first impression of darkened London and the changes that had been made. Women in blue uniforms, lanterns on their arms, were opening and shutting the door of the trains and doing all the work of a regular man.

We left the station for the Hotel Savoy and then I saw and realized to full extent what is meant by “London In Darkness”’ Every street lamp is painted on top and sides with dark green paint and sheds only a faint ray of light about the base of the lamp post. Every building is absolutely shrouded in darkness by heavy green or black curtains and as you speed along in a taxi at every crossing you expect to be run into – we just missed a “bus” by about an inch- pedestrians cannot see where they step, and must feel for the crossing with a cane until they become used to it, and here is one of the illustrations of how rapidly we adapt ourselves to conditions, the people living there go about without any apparent hesitation and find where they want to go, but how they do it is shrouded in as much darkness to me as the city itself. The few times I went out I clung to the arm of my escort like some frightened country girl.

My plan on arriving in London was to leave at once for Rotterdam to see our forwarding agent and find out about our needs before going to the foreign office in London who control the issuance of permits, so next morning I went to the ticket agent and asked for a ticket to Rotterdam. He replied “Do you have you permission to leave England?” I said: “You don’t mean after all the trouble to get in I have to secure permission to get out?” He answered that was the only way and referred me to the Home Office Permit Department.

On arrival there you are required to fill out a form of application and send it in with your passport, then sit down in a room all crowded with people all sitting in rows on hard wooden benches, just like one of our police courts, and wait your turn to be called. By slipping a coin to the guard, he placed me in the front row and came out and whispered he had put my application on top. In a short time I was summoned and appeared before the examining officer and required to give my pedigree, also my full business reasons for being there, and answer a hundred or more, to my mind, useless questions, and was finally asked for the names of two British subjects as references. Fortunately I thought of my friend Stephenson and Mr. Pearl, also of the London Office, although I had not met the latter gentleman and was somewhat upset as to what he might say if they ‘phoned him before I could post him, but no fear; England like Providence moves in mysterious ways her wonders to perform, and at no time are you in any danger of being made dizzy by the speed at which they move, for when my examination was over and I expected my permit at once I was requested to call Monday, this was Thursday. I told the official I must leave at once and he said “Well Saturday is the earliest”. Finally I produced a letter I had from the White House, and he asked “Why didn’t you show me this before” evidently feeling a bit put out, and then told me I could have my pass that afternoon or next day, If I would get a letter from our Ambassador vouching for me. This, however, was about as long winded a job as getting a permit. However, I passed the guards in the Embassy and found it was too late to see the Ambassador until next day, Friday, but I secured my letter late that day and my pass for Holland, Saturday, A.M.

With Mr. Miller of London Office, I went and secured my tickets and he kindly stayed with me until train time, 8.13 P.M. Upon arrival at the station I was advised there would be no boat. You must here understand that the boats leave Tilbury and run to Flushing and as the entrance to the Thames is heavily mined, any time it is foggy (and it often is) or there are any war ships in the channel, or mines afloat, the boat doesn’t run and you have to wait. The next serious feature is that when your passport is stamped giving you permission to leave for Holland and you secure your ticket, they fill in the date and you must leave England on that date and failure to do so requires your return to the Permit Dept., the same delay, etc. and all because the boat did not sail.

I waited all day Sunday for news of the boat, and was finally advised about 8 o’clock (too late to reach the train) that they expected the boat to sail although it had not arrived from Holland.

The people who had been informed in time for the train stood in a small pen or enclosure from 9.30 P.M. Sunday until 5.30 A.M. Monday before the boat arrived. No place to sit down, cold, damp and dark, nothing to get to eat or drink. How I missed that treat is a mystery for I seemed to get everything else that was going around from soup to nuts.

Monday I had to get a new permit, new ticket and finally got started for Tilbury to learn all the pleasures held in store at that delightful place. Here again you are examined twice, Scotland Yard and Military, and the examination is much more thorough than the one landing at Falmouth.

While waiting for my turn, I noticed a man whom I afterward learned was a Scotland Yard Detective walking around eyeing me very closely, especially my bag on which there were some old German labels from my last trip.

Not knowing who he was and being annoyed by his scrutiny, I finally said to him “If you have any questions to ask me, I will try and answer them, but don’t keep circling around me, I don’t like it”. He didn’t reply but went to the table and whispered to the examining officer, and when my turn came I surely thought I was going to be locked up, and firmly believe I would have been detained but again for my letter from the White House saved the situation, and I was finally passed to the military officer, although still trailed by my self attached friend. Having passed there after another long thorough examination, my card permitting me to embark was stamped. This card was plainly printed “This card must be surrendered to the officer at the gangplank before embarking” so I put all other papers away and proceeded to have my bag examined, that disposed of I stumbled along the dark dock to the gangway and was stopped by an officer who flashed a small electric bulb attached to his belt. I immediately presented my card, when he said “You seem to know all about this- just what’s required – when were you across before”. I told him this was the first time, but I could read, and thought I was helping him by showing above average American intelligence. However, this did not satisfy him and I was told to step to one side. While waiting, I saw dozens of people coming along with every paper in their possession clutched in their hands, not knowing what was before them and presenting the whole bunch of papers to the officer who selected the card he wanted and permitted them to go aboard while I was held up, finally my kind friend from Scotland Yard came along and was hailed by the embarking officer, and after a whispered consultation, came over and shoved his face close to mine, I told him I was the same man he had been parading around and he had heard my examination and saw my credentials, and he went back and spoke to the officer and I was finally called over permitted to go on board.

I learned since that all spies are fully conversant with
regulations, always have the best credentials, so whenever anyone
comes along who is cool and collected, answers every question, and
seems to know just what is wanted, he immediately becomes an object of serious suspicion.

I will cite here an instance to show how even with their great care  things occur that look mighty  strange to a disinterested observer. On my train to Tilbury was a man on a stretcher in care of two red cross hospital stewards.  He was fully dressed even to a cane which lay on top of the blanket clasped in his hand. He was apparently in the last stages of consumption and after a lengthy examination was passed and carried on board the tender and placed on the floor of the cabin, the center of all eyes and much comment and pity. One of the hospital stewards explained to some people stand­ing near me that the patient was a German dying of consumption who insisted upon going home to die and said he did not think “the poor fool” would live to cross the channel. The next night at Flushing this same dying man appeared on the station platform alone just before the train pulled out smoking a cigarette and took his place in a compartment. You can draw your own conclusions.

Upon arrival at the steamer’s side, I noted the decks
were shrouded in canvas as I presumed to exclude any light showing.
We arrived on board about 13:30 A.M., three hours anda quarter after
our arrival at Tilbury, and the vessel remains at anchor until broad
daylight in the morning as the passage through the mine fields, the
danger of floating mines and the fear of submarines, is so great, that positively no attempt is made to cross in the dark or in misty and foggy weather.

At about seven A.M., we started and shortly after I arose to see what was going on. By the time I had breakfasted, were entering the mine fields. The sudden stopping, starting, backing and general twisting and turning was such as to alarm even the most unconcerned. Stepping upon the deck I found the sides of the vessel still heavily enclosed in canvas and believing this was simply due to lack of time for the deck hand to remove same, stepped to the rail and loosened an end of the canvas and raised it to lock out when a steward came running up and said:  “Dont do that, don’t you know the Scotland Yard men are still on board and if they see you do that you are liable to instant arrest as a spy”. I asked him why and he replied no one was allowed to look while passing through the mines for fear they were there to get their location and pass the news to the enemy, hence the heavy canvas coverings.

It is bad enough to be able to stand on deck, and face danger, but to be shut in unable to see a thing and listen to the sudden stops and starts is an ordeal to try the nerves of even the most callous.

The crossing of the channel even under the most favorable
conditions is not a trip (as your friends who know, will tell you)
to be chosen as a quiet excursion, and crossing four times in ten
days at a time of year when the channel is as friendly as the rest
of Europe to your visit, is not a matter to be passed over lightly
by those subject to “Mal de mere”. However, the Lord was with me
and I managed to hold my own.

We arrived in Flushing about five o’clock P.M. and there we passed through the formality of presenting disembarkation cards, examination of baggage, and finally are free to wait one hour and forty minutes for the train to Rotterdam (my objective point).

Holland, while not actually fighting or at war, has her entire army of 800,000 men mobilized and all her cannon and other equipment ready at the railways to move instantly should the necessity arise.

Every station is under military guard with guns and fixed bayonets, and around the cities, especially at The Hague (the site of the World’s Peace Palace now referred to in Europe as the Comedy House) you find sentry boxes right on the sidewalks at stated intervals and a sentry or guard.

Arrived at Rotterdam about 8:30 P.M. twenty four and a quarter hours after leaving London.  In ordinary times this trip could be made in from eight to ten hours, so you can see how slow travel is even if you are permitted to take the trip.

Mr. B. F. Hunt from our Fuerth Warehouse and Mr. Schroeder, representing our forwarder met me at the station, and we immediately went to the office and started to work as every minute counted. By two thirty in the morning everything was arranged so I knew exactly what I had to do in London.

Next day I had to get permission from the British Consul to return to London, and had my passport visayed. I was asked if I had a picture of myself with me. I had, and when I handed it to the Vice Consul he numbered it and put it in the rogue’s gallery. You can imagine my feelings when informed I could not return to Holland again unless I secured a letter from the American Ambassador in London.

I left Rotterdam Wednesday night and believed my troubles over until I arrived at Tilbury, but to my surprise the Holland Government examines you and your baggage the same as in England.

I was herded in a small room about 15X15 in the midst of a bunch of about 50 sweet smelling Belgian refugees going to England and then to France to enlist in the Army. Therefore, they were given first attention while I waited over two hours for my turn. The examination is much the same except here you fill out a card giving your pedigree and finally secure your embarkation card.  Thinking this all would be required, I put all my papers away and started for the boat only to be stopped by a bayonet and my passport demanded. After a careful comparison of the description in same with your personal appearance the guard passes you and you embark.

There is no need to repeat my experience at Tilbury, as I have told you about it before, so will only say I arrived safely in London after a cold, dark, ride of three hours in the train.

I forgot to mention that the trains in England are all very dimly lighted; each compartment has a light about the size of a quarter in the center that sheds its rays straight down. All blinds are drawn and you can hardly see the other occupants of the compartment.

My work in London successfully finished, I managed to get to Holland but had greater difficulties at the examinations on account of my wanting to again return to London. However, I got through and reached Rotterdam safely.

When I finished my work I tried to return to London, but was informed there was no boat on account of a bombardment of the Belgian Coast and it was uncertain how long I might be marooned in Holland. I forgot to state that in crossing to Flushing this trip, it was just after a heavy storm, and when we were clear of the mine fields, and the canvas enclosure removed, while standing at the rail the boat came to a sudden stop and then started to back. Everyone became excited to know what was wrong and finally a deck steward pointed to a dark object floating some distance ahead on the port bow (forward left hand side of ship) and with every wash of the waves we could see the big round iron top of a mine. We waited until it was well passed before proceeding.  The next morning the Hospital Ship “Anglia” was blown up by hitting one of the floating mines, also the Collier “Lusitania” so you see how narrow our escape was.  There is no warning given, no fifteen minutes to man the boats, when you strike a mine it’s everybody for themselves, with a very slim chance for your life.

We also saw two more mines washed ashore on the Coast of Holland. The first officer told me they never left the dock but what they felt it was their last trip and the nervous strain is so great they have to take the boats off every little while to give officers and crew a chance to rest and relax.

After two days delay was fortunate in getting a boat back and returned to London safely.

While in London I had the opportunity to see the extent of the damage done during the last Zeppelin raid and no accounts published fully convey the horror of this phase of modern warfare. Everyone who has safely witnessed a raid agree it is a wonderful awe inspiring sight, but one they are willing to forego.

I have not told you anything of the pathos of war, of the sights of maimed and crippled, the horror of which will live with me always, but will tell you two that will be enough to convince you we don’t want war.

While standing in the lobby of the Savoy Hotel one morning a young man scarcely thirty, in a Captain’s uniform, entered shuffling along on crutches, his face very white; he had hardly any control of his legs below the knees. As he advanced a fine looking old lady came to meet him, and as she folded him in her arms and said “My Boy, My Boy”, there wasn’t a dry eye anywhere. I learned later that this boy had the tendons of both legs cut by shrapnel and would never be able to walk without crutches again.

The other, a young Major, both eyes shot out, being led by his grief stricken wife. The sorrow in her face as she looked at him and tried to guide and direct his steps was beyond description.

I could go on and write a book but have tried to give you as clearly and briefly as possible, an idea of what European conditions are as seen by an outsider.

There are certain towns in England that are known as
restricted areas. Any person not a British subject entering same are
required to report at once to the Chief of Police, and if they intend
to remain overnight must fill out a blank and secure permission.
The blank covers your pedigree, also your finger prints, and Mr. Oscar
Williams, one of our London Office superintendents, has a whole wallet
full of these blanks.

Mr. Stephenson and I sailed for home on the SS “Nieuw
Amsterdam leaving Falmouth, November 30th, and arrived in New York
December 8th, and as we passed the Woolworth Building and again saw
the flag, this time to say “Welcome Home”, it was with a heart full of thanksgiving I gazed upon it and realized my trip was over and, I was home again.

Yours truly,


Posted in 1915 | Leave a comment


EXECUTIVE OFFICE                                          1.

ALL OFFICES 1234                            New York, March 30, 1916.

In my position as Vice President and General Manager of this great corporation it would give me great pleasure to meet every office man, manager, and assistant manager, and give you all a cordial handshake and a word of assurance that I am with you one and all to make this business greater, both as to volume and profits, and more efficient, as to management as time goes on.

I have had the pleasure of meeting all of the district office managers and buyers, and a few of the store managers, since January, firsthand and this letter is to extend to everyone of you the hand of good fellowship and ask you for your hearty support, and best efforts to further the interests of the great corporation of F. W. Woolworth Co that we all love so dearly.

In the year 1915 a wonderful record for the business was made.   The total sales of $75,995,774 showed an increase of almost 10 per cent.   This record, however, is far behind the record we have made for January and February of this year, as, for the first two months we showed a gain of 14 per cent, in sales, so that we have started the year right for a wonderful record for the year 1916.

The buyers are keen to their responsibility of getting merchandise and are leaving no stones unturned to get the best goods to be had, and get supply enough to keep your stocks in good condition.

The district office managers and assistants are sending out from time to time helpful information in the way of general letters telling how to increase the business and reduce expense.   These letters are personal talks with the store managers, and from the early history of the business have been one of the strong features in keeping managers in touch with the business and helping them to forge ahead.

The merchandise men in the district offices are constantly in touch with the buyers, either by mail or personal visits to New York so as to get the best service from a merchandise point of      view for
the stores under their care.

All of this preparation in the way of buying and distributing merchandise, and advice and instruction from the Executive Office and district offices, go for naught unless we have the right man at the store as manager who will profit by all of this information and turn it into proper channels for sales and profits.

The life of this business is dependent on good managers

And we look to everyone of you to do your best and realize that this corporation has placed in your care a sacred trust, supplying you with all the material and money you need to run a successful store. We do not place you under surety bond as a guarantee that you will take care of our property, but we do place everyone of you under the bond of honor, and trust you to render the best service possible in appreciation of bur faith. We place you in possession of information that shows you where” the merchandise can be had, but it is right up to you to get the proper merchandise for your particular trade.

In order that you nay turn in the best results possible, you should have the support and co-operation of your assistant and every clerk and man in your employ.   Don’t try to direct everything from your office, but get in close touch with your help and let them feel your personality through all the store.   Give a word of encouragement

York, March 20, 1915.

or approval when good work is done.    Show the clerks how you want things done and then encourage them to do it that way. If you will get the element of personality through your store it will be your store and you will find that everyone will be trying to carry out your ideas for the better and bigger business.

Mr. Griswold gave us the watchword of “Co-operation” and this great thought should permeate your whole store, and from the store it rises through you to district office and through the district office to the Executive Office. From the head of this office to the clerks in the stores we want that feeling of co-operation to be uppermost in our minds, as we are all working for one common end to the uplift of the business of F. W. Woolworth Co.

During the past year we have had to discharge and re­place sixty-one managers who did not measure up to the Woolworth standard. We have also dropped eighty-eight assistant managers who were not making good and would never become managers of Woolworth stores.

All the above managers and assistants were either in­competent, dishonest, or immoral, and when we find a manager or assistant manager with any of these faults we immediately get rid of him as we cannot afford to keep within our family anyone who cannot live up to the Woolworth standard.

There is always room at the top and there is nothing more gratifying to the management of this business than to see assistant managers make good and become managers of their first store and from this point to rise to better and more responsible positions as store managers, eventually to become office men and directors of this great business. We always have our eyes on you to find good managers who are showing that they are fit for positions higher up.

Our business in 1915 increased less than 10 per cent, but the managers of the stores received over Two Million Dollars as compensation, which is about 11 per cent, more than they received in 1914.   Every dollar of increased profits in the business increases the personal income of managers. Make that increase in your store and reap the benefit yourself.

Our organization has been pointed to by many successful
business men as one of the finest bodies of commercial men that could
be banded together in one company.   We are proud of our reputation and
we want everyone of you office men and managers, and everyone connected
with this business to take a pride in the quality of our men, and if
at any time one of our great family should fail or go wrong it is your
duty to yourself and to the rest of your associates to bring such a
man to the attention of the Executives and have his case passed upon
for the good of the business.

From time to time you may have ideas that will benefit the business in one way or another and we want you to open up and give us those ideas for the benefit of the whole business, as every scheme that makes money for our store may help some other manager.


EXECUTIVE OFFICE.                       3

GREETING, CT’D.                          New York, March 20,   1916

Remember that we are all one great family and the exe­cutive Office is home.   Don’t fail to come into the Executive Office whenever you are in the neighborhood of New York, and remember that the latchstring is out on the door of every buyer and every executive in this office and we are always ready and pleased to see any member of the Woolworth family.

As Vice President and General Manager of this corpora­tion I will deem it a pleasure to see every office man or store manager that comes to the Executive Office, and I want you to make it a point to come in my office and make yourself known and I assure you all a hearty welcome and my full support and co-operation.

Let us all work together for the greatest record in 1916 that F. w. Woolworth Co has ever had!

Yours very truly,




Posted in 1916 | Leave a comment




New York, March 25th, 1916.


My attention has been called to a general letter sent out by Mr. Mickler of the Chicago Office, dated March 16th and March 30th. In these general letters to the Chicago Office Store managers, will say that I am surprised, to learn that the managers of Kresge & Co, have, been trying to influence some of the managers of our stores to fix prices. I have before me letters from the managers the Lincoln, Nebr. Store, Des Moines, Iowa, Store, St Paul, Minn.Store, Kenosha, Wis. Store and Kewanee, Ill. Store. In all of the above letters, our managers have been approached by the managers of Kresge’s stores and I am glad to learn that these particular managers will not co-operate with our competitors and it seems that some of the Kresge managers have informed our managers that managers in our other stores, are co-operating with their managers to prevent competition and are fixing prices on certain articles of goods that seem to be quite strong competition.

Now, I am surprised to learn that some of our store managers

have been familiar and confidential with some of our competitor’s managers. One of these letters states that word has come to them from their headquarters that they should get acquainted with our managers and try a fix up prices so there would not be so much competition.

I wish to state that this business   of F. W. Woolworth Co. is conducted, controlled, and managed by the officers of the Company and the district managers, and under no circumstances will we allow any competitor to dictate to us or influence us in any way, as to the prices we shall sell our goods, and I am not quite sure, but I think it is against the Federal Law to get their heads together and combine on the prices of merchandise.   My advice to every manager of all of our stores, is to not get familiar in any way, either   in or outside of our stores, with the managers of our competitors stores.    This not only applies to managers of stores, but to everyone connected with the business.   It is our business to run our stores as we see fit and I don’t want any of our men to become even familiar with our competitors at all.

Furthermore, I don’t like the idea of managers of our competitors’ stores coming into our stores at all.     You may think by familiarity with our competitors that you can get a few points out of them, which will be of advantage to you and on the other hand, you might give them a few points that might be of advantage to them, therefore, you should discourage any consultation with   them at all, not only about our business but on any subject.

Please remember that the five and ten cent business was organized on an entirely new idea in February 1879. That idea has been successful eventually up to the present date and everyone working on our ideas entirely, copying our, methods of doing business, copying the color of the front, arranging of the fixtures in the store and displaying of merchandise in the store, copied from our methods and they are endeavouring and trying hard to take our business away from us, and therefore, it is your duty to fight this competition tooth and nail.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE,                      2.

ALL OFFICES & STORES.                             New York, March 25th, 1916.

In the past thirty-seven years, we have had imitators galore and thousands of them have made failures of the business and there are two of them who are apparently successful now, but it remains to be seen that “the survival of the fittest” shall remain.

You must be on the alert all the time to prevent them from taking our business away from us and you should use every legitimate and honourable means to prevent them from doing so.

Furthermore, I do not wish to have any of our managers visit our competitors’ stores in the towns that you are managing a store.    If you should go into a strange town, there is no harm in seeing what our competitor has been doing to us.

I am sorry to say that a good many of our men have been more or less familiar with the managers of our competitors’ stores in the past, but I did not suppose that there would be any arrangements to fix prices with our competitors.   Now, if any manager has made such arrangement with our competitor, I wish they would cut off all such agreements hereafter.

Mr. Mickler has written out to the managers of his district, using the following terms:

“Under no consideration should you even think of changing your prices to conform with Kresge’s wishes.”

“Do not entertain or even discuss prices, etc with your competitor the enemy.   Attend strictly to business and feature as strongly as possible, the items that seem to be bothering your competitor most.”

“Fight your competitor.   Don’t let up for a moment – keep your windows well trimmed.   Be sure to run specials in the corners of your doorway windows everyday.   With co-operation, we can make it interesting for your competitors”.

“One of the first things Kresge’s managers try to do, is to get on the right side of the Woolworth manager”.

“By attending strictly to your own business# you can set a pace that your competitors cannot keep up with and in case of any of Kresge’s managers have approached you, it is evident you are making it interesting for them and he (the manager) wants to get friendly.

“Don’t have anything to do with your competitor.   We want you to fight competition, which means increased sales and increased income to you as manager.”

The above are timely remarks by Mr. Mickler and good advice to our managers and I trust that our managers are strong enough and wise enough to hold their   tongues when competitors come in the store and try to get information,

6)                                          F. W. WOOLWORTH.


Posted in 1916 | Leave a comment

A trip to Tate Springs, Tenn


EXECUTIVE OFFICE.                                               4-19-16.

“St, Louis, Mo. April 17, 1916,

When you receive this letter no doubt we will be in the glorious climate of California. The reason for our trip is as follows:

The doctor advised me to spend from 3 to 8 weeks in Tate Springs, Tenn. as he thought it would do me more good than any other place in the United States as I have been troubled with insomnia long time.

Mr.and Mrs. Albright, Miss Salter, and myself, left New York Thursday afternoon, on my birthday, April 13th. Arrived in Tate Springs about 3 o’ clock the next day. We went as far as Morristown, Tenn. by train and drove in an auto twelve miles to Tate Springs over a very rough road. There is a little one-horse train that runs up from Morristown to Tate Springs only once a day and we had our trunks follow us on that little railroad. On our ride up to Tate Springs the driver told us that there were only about eighteen guests at the Springs, which we thought very strange at this time. The scenery was beautiful, beyond description, and the climate was delightful. Long before I left New York, I imagined that the Tate Springs Hotel could not be a very beautiful place, and imagined it was a very bad hotel in which to stop, but the Springs they said were so wonderful that we decided to try it.

It is a very large hotel and with only eighteen guests, you can imagine the barn-like appearance it presented to us. But that was not all, before we even reached the hotel, everything looked neglected, as if everyone had gone to sea, but we did find a few old men perched up on the “stoop” wishing they were not there. We were led to the hotel register, and although it was the middle of the day it was so dark we could hardly see the register and they had to have  an oil lamp to follow our pens over the register, the register itself had gone to sea and about as dirty a book as I have ever put my hand on.

We were then induced to go up to see our palatial rooms. The elevators not running on account of the electricity being turned off (in the middle of the day), we had to climb two flights of very narrow dirty stairs with a carpet all worn off and the edge in shreds. We finally reached the best suite of rooms there was in the house with southwestern exposure, and the smell indicated to us that the rooms had not been occupied for months, as they had that old-fashioned musty smell that you get in country house parlors.   We found out afterwards that they had spent a good deal of time and money in making these rooms attractive and comfortable for us. The expression on our faces when we reached these rooms was indescribable; no one said a word, each waiting for the old man to break out.

We went, downstairs and had luncheon, and Mr. Albright said it was a very poor lunch. I agreed with him. While at the luncheon table we decided it was no place for us and went to the clerk to try to stop our trunks from coming to the hotel, also to secure accommodations on the railroad so we could get away.   But unfortunately the trunks arrived in the evening, which, on the other hand was luck for us as it gave us an opportunity to take out a few much needed clothing for our anticipated long trip, as in the meantime we had decided to go to California, and the trunks went back to the station and we checked back to Morristown.



ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                                                                                        4-19-16.       2.

The following day we took an auto to Morristown and was mighty glad we did not have to stay in Tate Springs any longer. We took a little stroll over the golf links to see if they were up to date, nothing doing. It looked as if there had been no repairs around that place for at least ten years, but must admit the climate was delightful and they say the Springs are very beneficial and that was the only attraction that kept these old men around the hotel. When we arrived in Morristown, we had just twenty minutes to buy our tickets and to check our trunks and figured out that it would cost us no more as far as railroad fares ware concerned, between Morristown, Tenn. and St.Louis Mo., and between Los Angeles and San Francisco, so decided to go that way.

We arrived in Knoxville, Tenn. about 1-30 p.m. on Saturday, April 15th and we had 8 hours to spend in Knoxville before our train left for St. Louis, and of course visited our store in Knoxville. We found the windows trimmed up very fine and the store in very excellent condition, also a very congenial and accommodating manager, Mr. F L. Kinney. There is no question but what that store will be successful under his management. We also visited our competitor’s store and found this store was in not near as fine condition as our store. In the afternoon we took a long auto trip around the suburbs of Knoxville and were very much surprised at the beautiful scenery and magnificent homes and estates, also the good roads. In the evening we took our dinner at the Atkin Hotel, which is a very fine hotel. We had an excellent meal there. The balance of the evening we spent on the “Midway” which is composed of a lot of so-called side shows, similar to the shows that they have in circuses, and there was a tremendous crowd but they got none of our money. We left on the 9-40 p.m. train and arrived in St. Louis rather tired at 7-36 last night, and stopped at the Hotel Jefferson, which is a very fine hotel. We took a walk around the streets of St. Louis and saw our stores from the outside and got a general idea of the city. This morning we surprised the men in our offices in St. Louis, and they are giving us the time of our lives. We found the offices very comfortable, nicely fitted up. This is my first visit to the St. Louis Office.

We have secured pullman car accommodations through to Los Angeles, which was very easy on account of most of the travelers going east instead of coming west and we expect to leave here to-night at 9 o’clock, stopping off at the Grand Canyon and arriving in Los Angeles next Friday afternoon. This will be my first experience on the western coast of the United States.

We are all well and feeling fine. It seems the change is doing me a great deal of good.   Have only had one bad day since I left New York. Have much better appetite and sleeping better. That is the reason I am taking this  trip, as believe it will do me more good than staying in one place all the time.   We shall not remain in California very long as this is just a flying trip, rather unexpected, and we have had to buy quite a few things on the road to keep in decent condition until we arrive in Los Angeles. You will probably hear from us later.

Yours truly,



(1050 copies)

Posted in 1916 | Leave a comment

General Letter No.5


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


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.




Posted in 1916 | Leave a comment

Sales Progress Report – first 4 months


ALL OFFICES AND STORES                5916.1

New York, May 9,1916.

We have just compiled the figures for the first four months business and I wish to congratulate every man in the business on the wonderful showing that has been made in the first four months of this year.

The sales for the first 4 months,1916: were $23,593,395.14

“     “    “    “    “   4   “     1915 were $20,430,364.59

Showing a gain of:              $3,162,930.55

15.48 per cent. gain in sales.

The first four months of 1915 compared with the first four months of 1914, show a gain of $838,080.66 in sales, 4.24 per cent. gain.   Compare these figures and you will see that the first four months of this year show almost four times as big an increase as they did for the first four months of last year over the previous year.

One of the strongest features on our report is that the old stores that were running full four months both years show an increase in the year 1916 of $1,973,50.38 and the balance of the increase is made up in the new stores. This compares with a gain of $20511.93 in old stores in 1915 for the first four months.

Now, this great record has only been accomplished by everyone working in harmony with the one object in view, of bigger business. The manager in the store with his assistants and clerks have done wonderful work in accomplishing these results, and the district office managers with their assistants combined with the buyers of this office have all done wonderful work to achieve these results.

Now, that we have made such a good start and have shown what

we can do with the effort that has been put forth, we want to keep up full steam ahead and go to it with every means in our power to make this record continue through the year.

We have set as a standard for the first four months the average gain of 15.48 per cent. in sales. Some stores have not measured up to this standard, and every manager who has fallen below this average wants to take account of things at once and find out why it is his store is not up to the average. Take the matter up with the district superintendent and see if he can locate the trouble, and after the trouble is located, apply the remedy, to bring the store up to the standard that has been set by the business as a whole.

Some stores have shown wonderful gains, far in excess of the average gain, but we don’t want to be satisfied with that, as a great many towns are having a tremendous boom on account of increased business for war material, and, of course, we are getting our share of that. The question is, are we getting all that we are entitled to?  If your store shows better than the average, don’t let up a minute; keep your store in as fine condition as you know how, including exterior and interior painting and lighting, keep fine looking windows, keep the goods

EXECUTIVE OFFICE.                     5916-2



displayed on the counters that you are showing in the windows, keeping up as complete a stock as you know how, and in that way make the best bid possible for more business and greater profits.

The estimated earnings for the first four months show a gain of 18.61 per cent. whereas the earnings for the first four months of 1915 in comparison with 1914 show a loss of about 1 per cent.     These estimated earnings are based on the last inventory gross per cent., but both years are figured on the same basis of gross per cent. for a true comparison.

There is a tendency when we are doing such a large volume of business to forget the expense account, as the old stores increased their expenses for four months $295,373.00, and the expenses in the new stores for that same period were $286,226.00.  Of course, part of this expense in the old stores is increased rent, increased freight and in some stores, increased salaries, but we want to watch all items of expense carefully and see that there is no waste, as every time we stop a leakage, or convert waste wrapping materials into money, it is that much net profit.

There has been a great deal said about shortage of merchandise, but the report which I have before me shows that the old stores have about $200.000. more merchandise on hand than they had a year ago and the business as a whole has over Two Million Dollars more merchandise on hand than it had January 1,1916, so that we have been getting merchandise, although a few special items may be short.

The buyers are doing everything in their power to get all

the merchandise that is needed and when one source of supply is unable to take care of our requirements they immediately get busy and look up other manufacturers, so that you can rely that the buyers will get the goods for you if it is possible to do so. This question of merchandise is worrying our competitors quite a lot as we have had numerous reports from our managers since Mr. Woolworth’s letter of warning under date of March 25th, advising us that our competitors have been in to see our managers, putting up the plea that there was a shortage of merchandise and asking us to raise the prices or not to make prominent displays of certain lines of merchandise so as to make what we had last as long as possible.

Following the instructions given by Mr. Woolworth in that letter our store managers have refused to be a party to any such schemes and are selling their merchandise at the prices set by the buyers and district offices, and all the merchandise that we have in our stores should be prominently displayed for sale as there is no object in keeping merchandise for the sake of holding it; when it is once sold we can use that money for other merchandise even though we cannot duplicate the same goods that we have had. It is the nimble sixpence that counts and holding on to merchandise because you are afraid you won’t get any more is a mighty poor way of helping the net profits.

We have opened since January 1st, nineteen new stores, and from the leases that have already been signed, we will open


EXECUTIVE OFFICE.                    5916-3

ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                 New York, May 9,1916.


during the year 1916, more stores than we did in the year 1915, when we opened 73, so the business is going ahead rapidly and the record for the first four months of 1916 is certainly one to be proud of and such a record should inspire us all to make still greater efforts to make the remaining eight months of the year 1916 hold up to the standard which we have established so far, and I hope that it will be my privilege when the six months’ figures are compiled to have as favorable a report to make as we are now submitting to the Board of Directors for the first four months of this year. We all have our part to do to achieve these results.   Let’s go to it!

Yours very truly,



Posted in 1916 | Leave a comment

Frankie goes to Hollywood

EXECUTIVE OFFICE                  51616-1


San Francisco,Cal.

Monday, May 8th, 1916

My last letter left us in Pasadena, where, I stated before, we arrived on Friday afternoon, the 21st of April. When I say we are all tired, it is placing it very mildly.

We stopped at the Maryland Hotel and were given and were given a very nice cottage to live in adjoining the hotel. The cottage had a sleeping porch under a bower of roses. Notwithstanding the tremendous heat that we just passed through, we found the temperature in Pasadena very congenial and very pleasant, and we rested in the cottage until the arrival of our trunks. We had not sat on the porch a great while before we were warned that we should keep our hats on so as to prevent catching cold, and to our surprise it commenced to grow cold about 5:00 O’clock in the evening and continued to grow cold, and we had to sleep under heavy blankets every night that we were in Pasadena.

Our trunks arrived in due time, without any trouble and then we felt very much happier, especially as my cigars had practically run out and I had plenty of them in my trunk. Mr. Rand thought this was a great joke that I was worried more over cigars than I was over clothing.

We were perfectly contented to remain in the cottage all evening and had the meal served in a very nice dining room, just the same as if we had been at home. The service from the hotel was excellent, as everything was brought to us hot. We had all our meals with the exception of one in the cottage dining room instead of the hotel.

Saturday the 22nd, we hired a 1910 Packard automobile and drove to Los Angeles’, a distance of only 10 miles, where I visited an old long time friend of mine, Mr. E.W.Barrett. When I say an old friend of mine, I mean over forty years standing. When I went from the farm into the Corner Store in Watertown to learn the dry goods business, March 24th, 1873, Mr. Barrett was the head clerk in that store and he was getting $13 per week. I started in on nothing per week, and it was through his kindness that I had nerve enough to stay in that store long to learn the retail dry goods business. He was always very kind and attentive to me, notwithstanding the fact that he was getting a tremendous salary, whereas I was getting nothing.

He afterwards went into partnership with Mr. Golding, who was head clerk in A. Bushnell’s store in Watertown in the Fall of 1875. These two young men left for Port Huron, Michigan where they opened a 99c store of their own. The reason why I recall this instance, is because it was the turning point in my life. At that time I was getting $6. per week in Moore & Smith’s store in Watertown. I immediately applied for the position that Mr. Golding held in Bushnell’s store, which I got at $10 per week. I remained in Bushnell’s store until February, when I was taken sick and laid up for a year and a half.

In the Spring of 1878, Mr.Golding visited Watertown, and he asked Mr. Moore in a conversation which I overheard, if he ever had a 5c counter. Mr. Moore replied that he had never hoard of any such thing, and Mr. Golding stated that he had tried a 5c counter and it proved to be

–   Over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE                      51616-2


a big success. The following August in 1878, Mr. Moore was in New York and bought less than $100. worth of 5c goods, and I helped to display these goods on a counter in the centre of the store in Watertown. In the meantime, after my sickness, I had returned to the “Corner Store”. That was the beginning of my experience in the 5c and 10c business, and the following February I opened up my first store in Utica, New York, on the 22nd day of February in 1879. The rest of the story you all know.

In referring to Mr. Barrett again, will say I did not know where or what had become of him until about six months ago, when I received a letter from Port Huron, Michigan, from a friend of Mr. Barrett, stating that Mr. Barrett and Mr. Granger, his friend, were living in Los Angeles California. I took the opportunity to write him a letter, which he received in due time and replied to, and we have corresponded ever since. Mr. Barrett was very much, surprised to see that young sapling of a boy that he used to see in the old “Corner Store”, who, at that time weighed only 135 lbs, had gotten so large. He could hardly recognize me after I had put on another 100 lbs. and he kept repeating to me that it didn’t seem possible that I could have ever gotten so large, but Mr. Barrett himself had also increased his weight very much. Notwithstanding the fact that he was not very well at the time I met him, he looked really good to me. He was living in a very nice house with Mr. Granger in Los Angeles.

He also has a nephew, named Clarence Barrett, who was living next door to him, and this same Clarence Barrett used to work in the “Corner Store” at the same time I did. I met him also. He was a very bright healthy, young man the last time I saw him and now he is grown to full manhood, he looks just the same as he did in former days, except that his hair has grown gray, the same as  mine.

It was very pleasant to meet these gentlemen after being away from Watertown forty years.

We then motored back to Pasadena.

I am expected to say something about my impressions of California. First, I wish to state that I never saw such excellent roads as there are around Pasadena and Los Angeles. They are very smooth and very pleasant roads to ride upon; in fact, I discovered that the roads in California are much better than they are in the east, while they have been improved, one cannot say too much in favor of the automobile roads in California.

They all told us that the months of April and May were the best months of the year to visit California, and that is one of the reasons why we took this time of the year, as then the flowers are all in bloom and vegetation is at its height. Speaking of flowers, we cannot say too much, as you find them everywhere, even along on the side of the roads. Miles after miles you travel and get the odor of beautiful flowers until they become so common that you forget that you are in the land of roses. Yet, I must say that we are seeing California in the very best time and the very best season California has ever had. According to a Los Angeles paper, it stated that never before were there so many roses and such beautiful vegetation as there is at present, so we have seen California at its best. People who come to California in January, February and

EXECUTIVE OFFICE                   51616-3


March, come here during the rainy season and do not see the perpetual sunshine that we saw. We spent ten days in Pasadena and vicinity and the temperature was the same every single day. The sun shone every day and it was fairly mild during the day, not any too warm and not any too cold, but after 5:00 o’clock, look out. The nights were so cold that we had to have the steam on in our cottage and sleep under heavy blankets, but we were sure that the next day would be pleasant.

Sunday the 23rd, we visited, the famous Busch Gardens. They told us it was only a short walk from Pasadena, and the weather was a little warmer than we expected it would be, but we walked the distance and discovered it was three miles from our hotel. The Busch Gardens belong to Mr. Busch, who made himself famous by making beer in St.Louis. He has several acres of wonderful flowers and vegetation, sunken Italian gardens, and it is a very delightful spot to visit. It is impossible for me to describe this wonderful place.

We got hold of an old man who took us back to the hotel with his horse and carriage. He had lived in Pasadena for years and he took us through the famous Orange Grove Avenue. He stated, with great gusto, that there were more millionaires in one mile on that street than any other place in the world. He told us that there were 28 millionaires in that one mile. It was certainly a beautiful avenue. The handsomest house, in our opinion, was owned by Wrigley, the chewing gum man. The avenue was decorated with real live growing date palm trees on each side, some of the handsomest I have ever seen, and beautiful lawns and flowers galore.  In regard to the houses themselves, they were certainly very insignificant in comparison with the surroundings. The general style of architecture was Mission, which does not appeal to the average person from the east; in fact, all through California, you are disappointed in seeing such miserable architecture in their buildings, especially in private homes. The office buildings were entirely different and more like the eastern cities.

The city of Los Angeles, is a bustling, busy town, and is growing very fast. The little city of Pasadena has less than 40,000 people, and is comprised principally of beautiful homes. The Huntington Hotel, Raymond Hotel and the Green Hotel, the principal hotels in Pasadena, were closed for the season, but we found the Maryland Hotel very attractive and comfortable, and a good table.

Sunday afternoon, we took a ride with an old man in an old Studebaker car. We could not stand the Packard car another day, so we tried the Studebaker, but we checked that off at night and would not use that car.

Monday, April 24th we went back to Los Angeles.  Mr. Rand had made all arrangements for us to meet the managers of the different stores in Southern California, and we had an excellent luncheon, one of the best we have had anywhere. Besides Mr. Rand, Mr. Albright and myself, we had Mr. Blatterman, the superintendent of the district, and the following managers of stores:-

– over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE          51616-4


Messrs. W.E. Ward          Store,#634, Los Angeles

        A.H.Taber                  14, Los Angeles

        S. Cline                  264, Los Angeles

        H.W.Stephenson            390, Pasadena

        C.A. Ris                  457, Riverside

        R.J. Williams             203, San Diego

        C.A. Lamont               660, Pomona

        P.W.Rous                  433, San Bernardino

        O.R.Schubert              756, Redlands

        C.C. Lemons               752, Santa Barbara

        L.H. Bovey                839, Berkeley

Each one of these managers gracefully made a speech. Mr. Rand, Mr. Albright and myself had a few words to say ourselves in an informal way. They had one of the finest orchestras we had heard since we left New York. They played a “Perfect Day” and Gounouds “Ave Maria”, as well as I ever heard it anywhere. When we sat down to the table, there were ten managers of stores. When we rose from the table there were eleven, as I had the honor of appointing Mr. Bovee manager of the Berkeley store; the first time I have had an opportunity of appointing a manger in five years. He gracefully accepted. These Southern California boys are hustlers, and I appreciated very much meeting them.

Then we visited the large Broadway store in Los Angeles, which was found in excellent condition, both basement and salesroom. The store is elegantly located, large in size, and doing an enormous business. We also have another store on Broadway, which is also in good condition and doing a good business. Then we visited the Spring Street store, which is also doing a good business.

Then we went to call on my friend Arthur Letts, who I had met and become acquainted with in Europe in 1912. While in Europe, he told me about the wonderful business he was doing in Los Angeles, and what a wonderful climate it was, and what he told me was true, as he had one of the handsomest stores in Los Angeles – a tremendous, large, up-to-date department store. He also controls another large department store in Los Angeles, and he is a very prosperous gentleman.

Up to this time, I have been unable to secure any good oranges in California, and I asked him where I could find some good Florida oranges. He remarked at once “In Florida, I suppose”, so we had to go without Florida oranges while in California.

One of the first persons we met, whom we knew, in Pasadena, was Mrs. S.M. Knox, her mother and her sister and Mrs. Chas. Goodyear of Buffalo. Mrs. Goodyear was so enraptures with the cafeteria that she saw in Los Angeles, that she was bound to invite us to a cafeteria lunch but would not explain to us what this was until we had the experience. Mr. Rand and Mr. Albright secured a new Hupmobile, which proved very satisfactory, with a German driver named Wilhelm. We afterwards called him ‘Kaiser Wilhelm”. We drove to Los Angeles Tuesday, April 25th, again where we met at the cafeteria for lunch and Mrs. Goodyear conducted us through.

-.over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE.                            51S15 -3.


You enter this restaurant and are shoved off one side into a line which is protected from the restaurant by a guard rail, until you come to the rear of the store, where we were handed a 24 inch Japanned tray, with a napkin, and a knife, fork and spoon, wrapped in the napkin. Then we stood along a very narrow marble counter with this tray, and back of this marble counter, were all the eatables you could imagine displayed very temptingly, and you could take anything you wanted off that you saw – from soup to nuts. At the end of this long marble counter, you are supposed to have your tray full. After we selected all we thought we could eat, we went past a cashier who checked up everything we had on the tray.  Then we were permitted to go upstairs to eat, carrying our own tray, where there were tables all set ready. We took the things off the tray and put them on the table to suit ourselves, and, believe me, everything they had tasted mighty good, but of course, everyone selected a great deal more than they could eat; but as long as Mrs. Goodyear was paying for it, we didn’t care so very much. After luncheon, we went down stairs again to a long avenue and checked up with a cashier before we could get out.

This was certainly a novel idea to us, and New York has tried it on top of the Strand Theatre.  These cafeterias are very popular, not only in Los Angeles, but all over California, and are a new method of running a restaurant that some eastern restaurants might do well to copy.

In the afternoon Mrs. Goodyear treated us to a moving picture show called “Civilization”, which we, understand cost a million dollars to produce. This was produced by Thos. H. Ince, the same man who presented the spectacle “The Birth of a Nation”. This was one of the greatest moving pictures we had ever seen, and is called a “Photo-play”. This was the first week it had been presented, and, no doubt, it is in New York by this time. Shall not attempt to describe this wonderful photo-play, except that it mostly represents the present war in Europe; a very fine orchestra gave us music during the performance.

Wednesday, we rested all day, as we had been going a pretty rapid pace. Thursday, we went to Riverside, a place about 54 miles from Pasadena. We went through Pomona and saw ourstore there. We thought the weather was rather warm and asked the manager of our store if it got very warm in Pomona. He said “Yes, it gets to 113 in the shade in July and August”. The store was well located and in very good condition.

At Riverside, we stopped at the Mission Inn, a famous place for tourists where we had luncheon. This is a hotel and museum combined, built entirely of Spanish architecture. It is certainly a very attractive place. We saw a tree there that Theo. Roosevelt planted and a chair that was made for President Taft while he was at that hotel.  All the famous celebrities of the east have stopped at this hotel.

We visited our store in Riverside, which is a town of about 40,000 people. We found this store in excellent condition, but the weather was still warmer than it was in Pomona if anything. We asked the manager how hot it got there in the summer time, and he told us about 115 to 130 in the shade all through July and August. We saw that they were not only troubled

-over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE             51616-5


with heat, but troubled with flies. They had enormous fly traps along the curb on the edge of the sidewalk to catch the flies and they seemed to have been catching a great many of them while we were there.

We returned to Pasadena, through thousands of acres of Orange groves on a beautiful road. All this valley through is composed of orange trees and vacant lots, which they stated were worth $375. per acre, but without irrigation would be worth nothing. In fact, the word irrigation is used so often in Southern California, you wonder sometimes that they ever invented this method of irrigating the land. The water all comes from the. mountains and is brought down in pipes at great expense, except some private plants with wells where they pump water to irrigate the land.

Asked the manager in Riverside, how the country looked in July and August, and he stated where there was no irrigation, it was just one barren waste of yellow, dried-up, burnt-up vegetation; in fact, it was anything but attractive in the mid-summer, on account of the tremendous heat and no rain, as rain is practically unknown from the first of April to October.

 We tried to buy some oranges;   where we could not buy. them, we stole them on the roadside, but it seemed to be impossible to get any good oranges to eat, as they told us that all the good oranges were shipped to New York and the natives have to live on what is left. Mrs. Rand arrived today to join our party.

Friday we took another ride, and Kaiser Wilhelm advised “us to go to Lookout Mountain. It was a beautiful clear day down in the valley, but before we got to the mountain we noticed what appeared to be a yellow fog. This proved afterward to be a sand storm, and we landed on top of this mountain, 1500 feet high, in a tremendous sand storm, unlike anything we had ever seen before. When we returned to the valley, the sky. was as clear as ever, yet over our heads in the distance, we could see these sand clouds, which looked just like real clouds.

Saturday, we visited Universal City, one of the greatest cities near Pasadena, which is comprised of over 1700 acres and over 10,000 people live there. The principal occupation of this city is producing: moving pictures. We certainly had the time of our lives, here we saw all the methods used in producing moving pictures. The first one we saw was a mining camp with a fight between a couple of teamsters, who had locked wheels and commenced to fight each other for possession of the road. Very exciting and a real fight. The mining, camp was certainly gotten up in wonderful shape.

When you go to moving picture shows, you must remember that most of these pictures – in fact, they told us 85%of all the picture films made in the United States – are made in this territory on account of the wonderful sunshine they have every day and the natural scenery, as Universal City is located on the foot hills of a mountain.

Our party was invited to have their pictures taken, which was done. They took a picture of me personally afterwards and wanted me in a moving picture, and I accommodated them. It is just possible you may

– Over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE           51616-7


In some moving picture in the east some time. I was induced to go into a ball room where there was a dance going on, and I was supposed to be looking for my wife, and was disgusted and surprised when I found that I was before the camera, so you will be prepared for anything like this if you happen to see my picture on the film.

We had lunch afterwards in the cafeteria in which all of the directors, actors and actresses of the company take their meals. We were interviewed by all the officials of the company, and shown all the details of the wonderful work they are producing and the millions of dollars that they are spending every year to produce moving pictures.

They told us about a wonderful bridge that they built purposely for moving pictures, and after it was built, some strangers got into the picture and spoiled the picture and they had to build the bridge all over again at tremendous expense.

They had cowboys running down the side of the mountains and accidents occur there every day. They have a hospital and nurses, and there were eleven people hurt in one day there, some of them quite seriously. When you see these moving pictures, you wonder if the things that you see ever happen. The most daring things that man can do are, produced in Universal City.

Sunday, we went to Venice – not the Venice of Italy, but named after the Venice of Italy – situated on the seashore with Canals and one real gondola. They have a reproduction of the Doges’ Palace, the Capanile (sic) and some of the hotels, all of the Venetian architecture. Even the tame doves around the eaves of the Doges’ Palace looked natural. The rest of the place is similar to Coney Island except they went Coney Island one better. They have a tremendous large swimming pool, I should judge 200 feet square, and the water is pumped into this swimming pool at 85 degrees – salt water. The pool was thick with people with abbreviated bathing suits. The ladies, as well as the men, had on practically one piece suits, without any stockings, which would not be allowed even in Atlantic City. They appeared to be having the time of their lives. The beach was also lined with people, many in bathing in the ocean.

We had lunch at the Nat Goodwin Restaurant, which is located on a pier thrown out in the ocean, and I have never seen anything as handsome for a sea-shore restaurant in the east. The food they served was something wonderful. Their specialty was crab legs, as the crabs grow so very much larger here than they do in the east, and the meat of the hard shell crab legs was very delicious.  Then, of course, we had the famous sandabs, a very excellent fish which we do not have in the east.

The ride to Venice was magnificent and beautiful. On our return we stopped at the Beverley Hills Hotel, a magnificent hotel, beautiful flowers, a long street of palms and wonderful to our eastern eyes.

Another day we went to Long Beach – another beautiful summer resort on the ocean. We rented a store while there, which I think will be a very paying venture. This was more beautiful than Venice, if anything, and has a larger population.  They have a big auditorium there where the famous musicians of the east, including Walter Damrosch’s orchestra and Paderewski play.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE.      51316- 8.


We decided to leave Pasadena for San Francisco on Tuesday, May 2nd. Have heard a good deal about the glorious climate of Southern California but wish to say that the climate of Southern California, did not agree very well with our party, as nearly all of us had some complaint or another. The air in Southern California seems to be dead and not invigorating, and we all had headaches, stomach trouble, bowel trouble and a new cold caught nearly every day. We were told, however, it would be necessary for us to stay there two months before we could get acclimated, but as our time was limited, we decided to leave for San Francisco.    The night before we left, it was extremely cold.

We left in two automobiles for San Francisco. The roads were in beautiful condition until we got about fifty miles from Pasadena where the boulevard ended at Bailey’s. Then we commenced to climb over the mountains. The government of the State of California, has spent an enormous amount of money in putting in a new road about thirty miles long. We reached an altitude of 4200 feet high at the highest grade. The mountains were very barren and wild and the road very crooked and a gradual grade either up or down all the time. We saw a wild coyote in front of our automobile, which ran across the road and down into the thicket below.

We had lunch up in the mountains, which we had taken along with us and the weather was not very warm and not very cold, but rather delightful. Soon after lunch, however, we came across a beautiful valley at the bottom of which was a river and lake, with plenty of green pasture land and thousands and thousands of wild flowers. We then ascended over another mountain, until within 32 miles of Bakersfield we had passed over this range of mountains, and beheld in front of us a road which looked like a white ribbon on the barren plain below, which reached 32 miles in a straight line direct, to Bakersfield. As soon as we got down on the plain, however, the intense heat got us and we suffered considerably before getting to Bakersfield. We saw a tremendous smoke coming off the mountains which was from the Bakersfield oil wells. This looked very close to us, yet it was 33 miles away. We passed by a forest of oil derricks, and we were told that one-tenth of all the oil supplied in the world is produced here, and one-half of all the oil produced in California comes from these wells.

We finally arrived in Bakersfield about 4:00 PM after a ride of 140 miles, and the heat in Bakersfield was intense. The manager of our store told us that it got up to 125 degrees in July and August in the shade. We found a mighty good hotel there and we had very choice rooms in the supper part of the hotel, where we were supposed to get all the cool air that was coming to us. This was one of the places where it was not necessary to even wear a night shirt, and we slept in our birthday clothes, as the heat was tremendous all night. At half past five in the afternoon, I saw the temperature in the street was 90 degrees so you see all of the wonderful climate of Southern California is not always agreeable. We were surprised when we had our dinner at night to find the room was cool. Upon investigation, we found under the table there was a register supplying us with cold air, and also in the main sitting room, it was necessary to do this, in order to keep it comfortable. This is something we had never seen or heard of in the east.

– over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE.            51616- 8.


Next morning we were off again, 150 miles through barren desert to Fresno, but the roads were so beautiful and so excellent the first it 50 miles, we did not mind it. Our chauffeur told us we had to go fast in the fore part of the day, as we would have 60 miles of pat (bad) roads and he was right. The heat was something tremendous all day and the scenery was nothing to look upon at all, except a barren waste of land, in the foot hills of the mounts, we found vegetation, orange groves and shrub trees. The mountains, however, were very handsome and were covered with snow, and this is a very high range of the Sierra Nevadas.

When we got in Fresno about 4:30 in the afternoon, the heat was 91 degrees on the street in the shade, so we had gone from one hot town into another hot town, and it was rather tiresome riding as a whole, considering the tremendous heat and the bad roads. We found an excellent hotel, however, in Fresno, much larger and finer than the one in Bakersfield. When we arrived at our rooms, we found them decorated with beautiful flowers and a large box of raisins, cherries, oranges, etc. Some of our party thought that the landlord furnished these, but we afterwards found out that the manager of our store in Fresno, Mr. Johnston, had supplied them for our comfort and welcome to Fresno,

The store in Fresno was one of the handsomest we had seen for a long time, Mr. Rand had advised the San Francisco Office to prepare to make the Woolworth Week in all the stores on the Pacific Coast a phenomenal week, and for the boys to increase their sales. We found that this manager was equal to the task. He had signs put up outside and all over through the store, and each one of the salesladies had a red ribbon pinned across her “Woolworth Week”. We take this opportunity to again thank Mr. Johnston for our welcome into Fresno,

The following day, Thursday, May 4th, we were to take our final ride into San Francisco, a distance of 300 miles. We left at 8:15 Am over a magnificent road all the way to San Francisco, with the exception of about five miles. Mr. Webber of the San Francisco Office had kindly sent his car down to Fresno to meet us, and the car we had hired at Pasadena, was sent back from Fresno. Mr. Weber’s car came through to San Francisco without any tire or trouble of any kind, but Mr. Rand’s car had many troubles.   As Mr. and Mrs. Albright, Mrs. Rand were in that car they had their troubles. They had no less than five tire blow-outs. We were to have met them for lunch at Modesto, 91 miles from Fresno, where we arrived at 11:45, and we had a long wait there until 4:15 before they arrived, so you can imagine the troubles they had on such a very hot day. No matter what their troubles were, the minute they saw us, they wanted their lunch, as they were nearly starved, which we provided.

Then, we started the balance of our trip. The heat was still baking us in the car.   We could not get cooled off. The heat, however, disappeared after we left Tracy and commenced to climb over the mountains. Right in the middle of the mountains, we met Mr. Foster and Mr. Crowther, who had come all the way from San Francisco, about 43 miles, to meet us and welcome us into San Francisco, and our ride the balance of the way was beautiful and the scenery grand beyond description.

–   Over –

EXECUTIVE OFFICE                51616-10.


We finally reached Oakland in time to catch the 7:15 boat at night and after a ride of 35 minutes across the Bay, landed in the beautiful city of San Francisco. We stopped at the Fairmont Hotel here. Another surprise was here for us, as we found most excellent rooms with a big sitting room. The sitting room was decorated beautifully with flowers. The centre piece alone of American Beauty Roses was eight feet high and the finest we had ever seen. On the side were baskets trimmed up with flowers and bouquets of flowers, cherries and strawberries combined. In addition to that, was the usual amount of fruit that we always get wherever we go in California.

We were very tired and it did not take us long to make up our minds to get something to eat quick and go to bed.

We shall not tire you any more with a description of our reception in San Francisco. We have been in San Francisco four days, and we leave tomorrow for Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Chicago – Home.

We will describe in our next letter, our reception in San Francisco.

Yours truly,


Posted in 1916 | Leave a comment

General Letter No.3


ALL OFFICES AND STORES.                                              5-8-16.   1. 


Pasadena, California, Monday, May 1, 1916.

We have been in the “Glorious Climate of California” 10 days and I shall try to give a hurried description of what we have seen since we left the level plains or prairies of Kansas.

Before going into deep earnest details of what has occurred I hope you will pardon me for taking you back to Tennessee and St. Louis, as we find Mr. Albright and myself overlooked two interesting things that we saw.

First, let me take you back to our auto ride from Morristown, Tenn. to Tate Springs, the day after we left New York. We were riding along pleasantly over a fairly good road when our car came to the bank of a wide swiftly running river and our car was run on to raft (you cannot call it anything else) and we wondered how we were to cross that rapid running river as the ferry (raft) had no motor or engine and not even an endless chain to draw us across, yet were no sooner on the raft than it commenced to move. An old man cranking a wheel on one side, yet his efforts were so mild that we could not see where the power came from until we saw a long wire running from the raft, to another wire suspended from a big tree on one side of the river, to one on the other, and our wire was connected to it. Now, where was the propelling force that was gradually and surely taking us across? I have travelled many hundreds of thousands of in auto, and this was a new one to us, but the mystery was soon solved when we discovered our raft was not going directly across, but the force of the current in the river struck the side of our raft diagonally, and the connections of our wire to the present wire by a pulley did the work, and we landed on the other side quickly and safely, and the same operation was worked when we returned the next day. This mode of transfer across the river has been in operation for over 40 years.

Mr. Albright forgot to mention in his letter our visit to the Public Library in St. Louis, which Mr. Cass Gilbert, the architect of the Woolworth Building, had described to me so often, as he was the architect of the library. It is a very handsome building but you could never believe the same architect did the work that made the Woolworth Building so handsome, as the style was entirely different, but just as handsome in its way.

Mr. Albright described better than I can our pleasant time in St. Louis and our route into the farms of Kansas up to Hutchinson.   Up to this place we had not reached any high elevations. The farther west we traveled, the less settled was the country. When we reached Dodge City our time was changed from Central to Mountain time and we set our watches back one hour at 5-45 p.m. At Dodge City the altitude is 2,516 ft. At 10-45 p.m. we were at la Junta, Colo., altitude 4,045 ft. We passed the Rocky Ford region where all the good cantelopes grow.  After leaving La Junta we commenced to climb and our train was over a mile above the sea all night, and at Wooton, Colo. we had reached an altitude of 7,526 ft.  above the sea. We got into Las Vegas, New Mexico (6,383 ft.) at 6-25 a.m. and we were over a mile high all day with a few exceptions.


EXECUTIVE OFFICE                          2. 

GENERAL LETTER NO. 3, CT’D,                                                                                      5-8-16.

We arrived at Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 11 a.m. and we had half an hour there and we went up to our store there which we found in fine condition and good location in a city of 30,000 people. Our manager, Mr. Price, was a bright young man fully capable to run this store. He told us 70% of his customers were Mexicans and we certainly saw a few there. At the stations they have an exhibition of Indian and Mexican wares, very interesting. The Santa Fe R. R. machine shops are located here. The Santa Fe R. R. handle 350,000 animals yearly and this is evidently a stock raising community, but we could not see what the cattle fed upon.

At 7-15 p.m. we were at Winslow, Arizona where we were
to change sleeping cars for the Grand Canyon.   We were still 4,848 ft.
above the sea. I suppose the least I have to say about the scenery and
country we passed through after leaving Kansas, the better. The country as a whole is very uninteresting; comparatively a few towns and practically a barren waste of arid lands, which some day may bloom forth with the help of irrigation, but it looks very doubtful.   The railroad literature describes in detail every little station and names the population if only 25 persons there.   We have noted as soon as we get west of the Mississippi River the natives do not intend you to miss any interesting feature, no matter what it is.   They have the habit of saying, “The largest in the world” – “The greatest in the world,” etc.   They do not say, “The largest in the State,” “The largest in the country,” “The largest on the continent,” but “The World” suits them better.   The porter at our hotel to-day was asked why they did not have a thermometer in the hotel. His reply was, “We don’t want people to know how hot or cold it is.” We went across the street and found it was 81 in the shade.

We were recommended by our friends and other people, to travel on the Santa Fe R. R. to the coast as it was considered the best. When we got on the train at Kansas City we expected something unusual, but found the famous California Limited was just an ordinary Pullman Car train with observation coach on the rear, same as we have been accustomed to for years. The Harvey System of dining car and station restaurant service was far ahead of any system in use in the country and I will admit it is far above the average, yet no better than we found on the Southern R. R. Breakfast and lunch A-la-Carte are fine but the Table d’Hote dinner at night we found only fair and some would call it bad. Everyone is agreeable and polite and anxious to please, which helps some. The Pullman conductor was the only one who was not so agreeable and insisted we should have our berths made up when we took the car at Winslow at 7-30 p.m., and lo and behold, they were all made up when we got there and we had to go in another car until bed time. The porter in this car was as lazy as they make them. We were switched off at Williams at 10-30 p.m. and layed there until 4-30 a.m. and arrived at Grand Canyon 7-45 a.m. Left same night 7-30 and found berths all made up again and he would not take them down next morning until after 9 o’clock. He was one of those porters that was always busy and never did anything until he had to and passengers could wait on themselves. He was one of the kind who did not care to answer bells or look after the wants of the passengers until just before they got 



GENERAL LETTER NO.3 CT’D.                       5-8-16    3.

off when he was very obliging and would hold out his itching palm for his tip. One old lady asked him if he did not get tired going to the Grand Canyon so often: “Yes, oh yes, he was very tired of it,” and no doubt he told the truth once. No doubt he did get tired of the complaints of them all. Furthermore, we had an old style dirty sleeping car made of wood, which was unusual for us. 


No doubt you have all read about this natural wonder of nature and I cannot describe it in a way that will interest you after so much has been written about it. As far as I was concerned, I had read so much and had seen so many pictures of it, I was prepared for a disappointment. Yet everything that has been said or written about it is about correct, but of course one must see in order to believe. The elevation is 7,000 ft, above the sea, or in other words the height of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, Its height is not a feature, however, of its wonder. The great gorge 217 miles long and from 9 to 13 miles wide apparently cut out of a level plain or prairie, from the rim of the Canyon to the river below is about 6,000 ft. It was discovered in 1540 by Spanish explorers, and the first white man to go down the river was Major J. W. Powell from its source to its mouth in 1869. Only once or twice since has a white man run through it successfully and he had a thrilling experience. The cause of this wonder is in prehistoric times the river cut a way through the plain, through soft red sandstone and earth, and scientists tell us it is impossible to definitely know how old it is, but presumably eight million years ago. The river is still at work digging the chasm deeper, at the rate of about an inch a year.

When we alighted from the train we ascended a long flight of steps to the hotel which nearly exhausted us on account of the lightness of the air, caused by the high altitude. The Harvey System have erected a fine hotel here called El Tova at a cost of $350,000,built of pine logs in rustic style and will accommodate 300 people, and well run. We had a fine breakfast and then ventured to the rim of the chasm only a few feet from the hotel and it is a grand sight and just about as I had pictured it. The Canyon is 13 miles wide here and looks about two miles, and the river here is over 5,000 ft. below (about a mile). The grotesque forms the elements have made of rocks and the earth are beyond my pen to describe. They say it is the only awe-inspiring thing Theodore Roosevelt ever saw and he has faced some natural scenery as well as National Conventions, wild beasts, audiences, and the crowned heads of Europe. We took a drive with an old man 8 miles on the “rim” of the Canyon and he gave us a graphic description of this freak of nature.    “Awful,” “wonderful,” “grand,” are only common words when applied to the Grand Canyon. “Sublime” is a more appropriate name.  The weather was beautiful and we were told we were fortunate as they have some awful storms there as trees all along the read had been up-rooted only a few weeks before, and 2 weeks before we were there the snow was 3 ft. deep. We could not keep our eyes off this grand sight all afternoon and see the change of light and shadows when the sun was going down on this bright red cavern or so-called Canyon. Mayor Mitchell of New York was there this Spring and our driver said he got

GENERAL LETTER NO.3, CT’D                  5.8.16        4.

out on a prominent place and looked down in the abyss below and made the remark “All New York City could be dumped down there and there would be nothing but a lot of junk at the bottom and practically unnoticed.” The air has a deathlike stillness and. one is not worried about the things of this earth, but wonder at the works of nature. Our driver said the most striking thing at the Canyon is. to see a thunder shower in the Canyon far below when it is sunshine above. Another weird sight is the Canyon filled with fog and sunshine above and it would, appear one could cross in a boat. The yellow red river below looks so small you can hardly believe it to be-a raging torrent very deep, wide and rapid. He told of a young man he took down to the river once that wanted to bath in the red water and he stripped and succeeded in swimming across, but on his return he was nearly drowned as the red clay stuck to his body nearly an inch thick and pulled him  down with its weight. The water is 43% sand and clay and no fish can live in it.

We visited moving picture show in the afternoon operated by Mr.Kolb, (a man who had been down the river same as Major Powell had) and he got some excellent still and moving views of the scenery and the rapid running river, and he told of his thrilling experience and we wonder that he came through alive.

Mrs. Albright and myself were so affected by the altitude and the air we could not enjoy it as much as we would like and we were glad when the train was ready to take us down to lower altitude.

Some of the colored pictures you see of the Grand Canyon exaggerate the colors and make one believe it is all colors of the rainbow  but we have no doubt at times it does look more interesting than when we saw it.


Friday, April 21st.We were on our last day to reach California and Los Angeles our destination.

When we awoke the same arid and desolate region repeated itself as we saw in New Mexico and Arizona only seemed to be worse. But what an awful waste of desert land with only a few Indians here and there in their native costume with long flowing black hair, astride a horse, just as used to be described in the dime novels 50 years ago, which I used to like to read so well. Then there were cowboys around the stations.

We finally reached Needles, California at 3-25 a.m., altitude only 476 ft. The first time in California but of course too early for us to see or be up. We finally arrived at Barstow about 9 o’clock, a city in the desert of 1,000 people only, but a very large and handsome station with honeysuckle arbor and we could not understand such a waste of good money, but this was a junction where trains divide, one section going on to San Francisco, and the other to Los Angeles   Here the altitude is 2,105 ft.


GENERAL LETTER NO.3 CT’D.             5.8.16        5.

After leaving Barstow we climbed over a pass through the high mountains to Summit, 3,820 ft. high and soon got sight of “Old Baldy,” 10,080 ft. above the sea, covered with snow. The desert we passed through had plenty of wild cactus, sage brush, and a few unpleasant things to look at. After going over the pass we came down in the hot climate of San Bernardino, 1,077 ft. high, population 18,500, and we have a store there but did not have time to visit it. I wanted an orange for breakfast on the train this morning but they did not have any and we are on the edge of the Orange Belt of southern California. Here we were relieved from the monotonous arid desert by the farmer’s valley of San Bernardino, with thousands of orange trees on each side of the track, and at last we were in the glorious climate of southern California. We were tired, very tired, but the trip of two hours through these very fine orange groves was the most pleasant part of our journey. The weather was warmer and we had to have our car windows open and the dust and sand made us anything but pleasant to look at when we arrived at Pasadena, 3-10 p.m., and were astonished when we got off the train to find Mr. W.J. Rand, Jnr. (the manager of our San Francisco Office, that has charge of our Pacific coast stores) meet us and give us the glad hand. We supposed he knew nothing about our trip to the coast but he got a tip from someone and here he was to meet us and welcome us to California. Mr. Blatterman, District Superintendent in San Francisco Office, and Mr. Stevens, manager of Pasadena store, were with Mr. Rand. We did not go through to Los Angeles as we expected but preferred to stop here, as this is only 10 miles from Los Angeles and a quieter place to stop. We are staying at Hotel Maryland as all other big hotels are closed and we are very comfortably located in a cottage and feel very much at home.

In our next we shall try and give you an unbiased opinion of what we think f southern California. We have been here 11 days and leave to-morrow for San Francisco by auto, 3 days trip, 420 miles.

        Yours truly,



(1150      Copies)

P.S – Since receiving the above general letter we have received the following telegram:

San Francisco, Calif, May 7, 1916

F.W.Woolworth Co.

Woolworth Building, New York

Leave San Francisco Tuesday for Seattle. Chicago Monday morning. Will try to be in Watertown Tuesday night. Send Mail Chicago Office. Rand will go with us to Portland and Seattle. Weather cold and windy here. Rand has entertained us wonderfully. Will lunch with Banker Crocker Monday. Notify daughters.


Mr. H. T. Parson received a postal card addressed just to “Woolworth Building” and Mr. L.C. Haynes received one addressed “Highest Building in the World” from the Woolworth party. Both these cards came through without any delay.


Posted in 1916 | Leave a comment