Sometimes history jumps out at you in red, white and blue like the Battle for Cooch’s Bridge in the Revolutionary War, or the legendary Delaware Coast Zone Act that some say actually triggered today’s worldwide “green” movement. Other times, history is literally right under our nose in beige and brown, flanked by what seems like a mile of little red polka dots on spindly metal columns.
That’s the case with our Delaware History Museum, housed in a former Woolworth’s drugstore in the heart of the Lower Market Street National Historic District in Wilmington, the state’s largest city. But our Woolworths wasn’t just any old drugstore. For decades, it boasted the longest lunch counter in the entire United States – a full city block!
For that reason, when the Society purchased the building in the 1990’s, we adopted the internationally-recognized red background and gold letter design that has graced every Woolworth’s on earth. In fact, I doubt there is anyone born before 1980 for whom the memory of Woolworth’s red and gold doesn’t conjure up historic vignettes from their own past.
For the ensuing 15 years, the memory of that lunch counter under the red a gold “Delaware History Museum” sign has served the Society well. In fact, even though we changed our institutional colors to blue and gold in 2008, we couldn’t bring ourselves to remove or even repaint that red and gold icon – the last vestige of a bygone era.
But, as often happens, fate stepped in and changed history – literally! One windy afternoon a few weeks ago the sign was ripped off its aging anchor bolts and thrust thunderously onto the sidewalk below. OK Already! We get the message!
Like any reputable heritage organization worth its historic salt we saved shards of the massive gold “D” for posterity. But we’re not tempting fate any longer. From now on we’re singing “the blues” at the Delaware History Museum – just in time to celebrate the grand opening of Wilmington’s red hot World Café Live! Color us happy!