Worman’s Bakery and Deli, Downtown

by Tim Gilmore, 8/20/2012

They came for the Last Lunch. Just like in every town in every time disciples and Jesuses come for Last Suppers, Last Breakfasts, Last Snacks, and Last Drunks. So many Wise Women and Messiahs.

They came to pay their respects. Sam and Rosa had opened the bakery and deli in 1923. Their children Morris Worman and Pearl Worman Leibowitz pulled bread from ovens in the 1970s and 1980s and 1990s. In 2009, Pearl watched everything in the Broad Street building, border of downtown and LaVilla, auctioned away. She watched 86 years disappear in two hours. Cash registers. Stained glass. All those photographs and posters of old Jacksonville that had so long adorned the walls. The old business district. A whole world. The images disperse. The bakery and the history disburses into parts-per-million.

The hideous, years-late, pre-fab, beyond-cost WalMart of a courthouse across the street obliterated city blocks. If it had opened on time and on budget, maybe its comings and goings would have kept Worman’s in business. It was neither.Delay after delay, the Duval County Courthouse ate up its surrounding landscape, and finally Worman’s succumbed to its gravity. Worman’s closed in 2009. Everything went up for auction. Years late and millions of dollars over budget, the courthouse was finally finished in the summer of 2012. A few weeks later, tractors ploughed into Worman’s Bakery and Deli and demolished it.

Lester Logan waited on tables in Worman’s from 1997 until it closed in 2009. Annie Reese had waited tables and rung up orders since 1973. Where will they go now?

A junkman wanders across the site on the Sunday after demolition. He piles blocks of tiles into the back of his station wagon. He collects the A and part of the K, the R, and the Y. He can’t find the B or the E. He remembers the tiles in the floor before the front door. His father remembered the Reubens and beer in 1943, but his father died in 1985. Where will Lester Logan and Annie Reese plant their memories?