Paul William Liles & Ralph David Lebowitz

When Men Were Really Men!

Ralph David Leibowitz

Ralph was the proprietor of Ralph's 5, 10, and 25 Cent Stores.  He came to California in the 30's to seek his fortune... and made it!  His first store was in Long Beach, second in Los Angeles, and when he sold the company in the 1980's they were up to store #17!

My Dad And Ralph Was A Unique Relationship

Woolworth's Dad went to work for Ralph in 1937.  Jobs were not plentiful in those days so dad told Ralph... "Let me work, if you like what I do, pay me... if not, don't."  That was the beginning of a 33 year relationship.  Dad passed away in 1970 and Ralph left us in September of 1983 after selling his stores to the current 99 Cents Only chain.  My middle name, David, is from Ralph.

Paula Leibowitz

Paul was Ralph's only child and guess where she got her name?  She went to Hamilton High School and then on to UCLA and became a teacher in the Los Angeles School District. She was about four years older than me so I would expect she is in her late 70's now.  We are now in touch with her via Facebook and email.

Ralph's became the 99 Cent Stores

When Dad passed away, Ralph kept the stores going for a time and then finally decided sell the stores and retire.  Competition was getting tough for the little dime store chains.  He sold out to the "99 Cent Stores" becoming quite a wealthy man.


1955 Cadillac Convertible Ralph was a one wonderful human being... fair, generous, and kind to a fault!  When they made him the mold was thrown away... his passing was our loss. Ralph was born in New York on September 3, 1907 and passed on in September of 1983 leaving his daughter Paula Leibowitz.  His wife, Carolyn C Leibowitz was born in Indiana on 10/8/1909 and passed on January 1, 1972.

I remember going swimming at Ralph's house... a real treat for my day.  Ralph always had a Cadillac convertible which I enjoyed riding in.  Every two years like clockwork, we would have a new car.  In 1955, we rode from LA to Orange County to attend the opening day at Disneyland in a brand new red Cadillac convertible.    What you do not know is that on the way back, Ralph did not release the new fangled emergency brake and he burnt up the brakes on the brand new car!

What Is A Dime Store?

The concept of the variety store originated with the five and dime, or dime store, a store where everything cost either five cents (a nickel) or ten cents (a dime).

The originator of the concept may be Woolworths, which began in 1878 in Watertown, New York. Other five and tens that existed in the USA included W.T. Grant, J.J. Newberry's, McCrory's, Kresge, McClellan's, and Ben Franklin Stores.

These stores originally featured merchandise priced at only five cents or ten cents, although later in the century, the price range of merchandise expanded.

Inflation eventually dictated that the stores were no longer able to sell any items for five or ten cents, and were then referred to as "variety stores". Given that $0.05 in 1913 when adjusted for inflation is $1.02 in 2006 dollars, this retailing concept has shown remarkable vitality over the years.


In 1879, Frank Woolworth opened one of the first five-and-dime stores, F.W. Woolworth Company. Spread all across America, these stores sold assorted sundries of household goods and supplied many of us with old-time memories. These stores reminded us that a part of us ought to never grow up. Woolworths closed its doors in August, 1997, leaving a bit of nostalgia behind. While the institution of the dime store is long gone, the old corner store still lives on...not at it's best. Wax lips, Wax bottles, Fizzies, Pixy Stix, Candy cigarettes, Bubblegum cigars, and many others are among the great treats you'll find here.