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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
     Monday, September 22 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Fun facts

One of the columnists I used to read regularly—I'm guessing it was the Tribune-Democrat's editorial page syndicated essayist, Sidney Harris—used to have a category of things he wrote about: "facts I found while researching for something else." Having just recollected that, I must now continue to remember it as it may help me on days when I have no clear new idea to write about here on the Jonals; the Internet being what it is, you can research anything and almost be sure of finding fun facts along the way.

While researching Kmart and Wal-Mart a few days ago I discovered something that struck me at the time as bordering on astounding. It was that Kmart and Wal-Mart were launched in the same year, 1962. But even more surprising was that also Target, which was then the discount "front" for the upscale Dayton-Hudson Department Stores Company (which had the department stores in Minneapolis and Detroit then), and Woolco, the mega-five and dime division of Woolworth's, also started that same year! I found it "astounding," I guess mainly because although it seemed like Kmart might have started even before that time, it was the only one of these four companies that I had for years actually seen and shopped in. I'd have guessed Wal-Mart and Target started much later. I do remember seeing some Woolco's relatively early in the history of such stores, however, though it of all four of these is the only one completely gone and mostly forgotten, along with its parent company, F. W. Woolworth.

But then I started scratching around in my grey matter and realized that that year may have been the same one that Glosser's launched Gee Bee and Penn Traffic started the first PT's in the same market niche. I'm not sure, but I think both of those started before I moved away from the Valley in 1964. I remember being fascinated by the fact that the first PT's (in Westmont and Indiana, if I recall correctly) had forced air in the doorways, and the claim was that there would be no need for real doors as this would control the climate inside the stores and keep any pesky insects from coming inside. Of course that was in the summertime; I doubt that they made it to the first Christmas in business before abandoning that "feature"!

Another fun fact encountered in this research was that S. S. Kresge, the founder of the five and ten stores that bore his name (one of which was on Johnstown's Main Street, and which company was the parent of Kmart) began his first "dime store" in partnership with J. G. McCrory (in Detroit). And both of them were Pennsylvanians. Even more surprising to me was learning that the first successful Woolworth's five and ten was in Pennsylvania, in Lancaster. F. W. had tried a similar store in upstate New York, but after it failed he tried again in Lancaster and it took off. I always "thought" McCrory's was a Pennsylvania company, but don't know that I had any proof in the days when I was often in their Ebensburg and Indiana stores, but had no idea Woolworth's was anything less than one of New York City's own success stories. It ended up there...or as a failure story (though for many years—probably right up till the company went bankrupt—its most profitable store was the one on San Francisco's Market Street). Or you might say Woolworth's ended up in London and England's smaller cities, where "Woolys" are still common, and look like we all remember, even down to the in-store lunch counters (but of course in England, that menu is considered cuisine!). (Sorry, couldn't resist.) But the Woolworths there, though they look familiar, don't have the "F.W." on their fronts, and I'd guess that though they may have started as the same company, they are an entirely different company now.

And one more related fun fact: in the final few years before it went out of business, York, Pa.-based McCrory's merged with one after another five and ten store company. When it acquired the Texas-based TG&Y, which had been its equivalent in the western states, McCrory's was for a short glorious time the largest five and ten chain in the United States. Isn't it ironic that no sooner than the old five and dimes were gone did the 99-cent and dollar stores start proliferating? What's up with that?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Flying humor - 9

In light of all the recent air security that has been put in place, crew members try to lighten the mood once folks get on board. Here's how they make the in-flight "safety lecture" and their other announcements a bit more entertaining. These are real examples that have been heard or reported.

A flight attendant's comment on a less-than-perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

Either He was what He said He was or He was the world's greatest liar. It is impossible for me to believe a liar or charlatan could have had the effect on mankind that He has had for 2000 years. We could ask, would even the greatest of liars carry his lie through the crucifixion, when a simple confession would have saved him? ... Did He allow us the choice [many] have made, to believe in His teaching but reject His statements about His own identity?

— Ronald Reagan
in a letter to a skeptical pastor, quoted in Time magazine

Top daily news stories linked from our sister webpage
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