have been taking photos since I was twelve. But when asked for pharmacy photos
I had to answer, no not a one. Little did I know I was just days from being led
to a drugstore still operating that opened in 1960. That store is the Hamlin Pharmacy
on Staples in Corpus
Christi Texas. |
I have read that the exponential expansion of Walgreen’s
happened to capitalize on the legality to sell alcohol for medicinal purposes.
Whether opening new stores was because of the beginning of the “milkshake” as
some claim, the expansion did take place during and after prohibition. And now
CVS has built a store across the street from many of Walgreen’s. Today’s concept
with large discount stores that include pharmacies further blurs loyalty between
the seller and the buyer of prescription drugs.
Very few people under age
30 today understand that pharmacies of the past held a position of trust in our
lives. As a result independent pharmacies were deeply ingrained in our American
society. In earlier times druggists purchased, dispensed and monitored what they
a child my parents traveled to Angelina County often to visit kinfolks. On a farm
near Lufkin I learned to shoot
squirrels with a 22 rifle and hunt quail with a 12-gauge shotgun. Over towards
Pollok was a general store. While
wandering the medicine aisles of this store I saw boxes of empty capsules (for
animal medication). I got the idea that if I put a BB in a capsule I could make
an imitation MEXICAN JUMPING BEAN. I bought a box of capsules.|
my grandmother’s farm the idea seemed to work but the BB was visible inside and
the capsules needed protection from moisture. Painting with model airplane dope
took care of both problems.
I decided this was such a good idea I could
make money selling them. I went back to the store, picked up all the capsules
and tried to buy them. The storeowner said he wouldn’t sell all these capsules
because he had farmers with sick animals that needed their medicine too. I was
embarrassed and put the capsules back on the shelf.
I walked in the Hamlin store I instinctively went to the pharmacy counter. The
owner Karl Arnold, a man of my age met me at the end of the counter. We shook
hands as he explained the store had started small but over time became incrementally
larger now totaling 10,000 square feet. The store was now largely miscellaneous
gift merchandise, “The money making portion” Karl said.|
He blew some smoke
about what he was going to do with the place “BEFORE I DIE NEXT YEAR”, he said.
I realized I was speaking with a man of experience but that doesn’t teach you
the time of your death. Shocking statements are a good way to understand the personalities
of people in a first time meeting. I knew right away Karl and I were going to
enjoy our time together.
His statement reminded me of Paul Brown a guy
I knew back in the early 1950’s while in the Air Force. After a night of heavy
drinking Paul would say, “Today I have a bad case of polio." It would be
ten years before a preventive vaccine for polio, a much-feared disease, would
be available. That made his statement and Karl’s really dark humor.
made photos of the prescription medicine storage and dispensing area. Next I moved
over to the large lunch counter. The soda fountain is a good place to catch up
on gossip as well as having a bowl of chili with a cherry coke. By now Karl had
dug out a
book published in 2000 that included coverage of his store back then. I sat
down and perused the book for a few moments. The Hamlin store covered several
pages of the book. |
I told Karl about
my experience and trust of Balfanz Pharmacy in Houston. And as a child I would
occasionally be sent on my bicycle to buy a quart of hand-packed ice cream. Later
as an adult I ate lunch at their counter, usually a sandwich and malted milk.
was not listed in this book but the Yale Pharmacy lunch counter was pictured.
This was exactly where my mother worked during the last couple of years of the
1950’s. I was overcome with nostalgia and looked for what else the book contained.
This book COUNTER
CULTURE TEXAS included Arkey Blue’s in Bandera. Arkey’s is not pharmacy at
all, but a place to consume beverages and listen to music. Opening their door
the dim light exposes a stairway leading to a lower level. After all Bandera is
located in the hill country. The floor downstairs is covered with sawdust to facilitate
dancing. That is why “do it in the sawdust” is the popular mantra about this establishment.
asked Karl if he had ever been to Arkey Blue’s. He shook his head no. I said you
really should go there - Karl interrupted - BEFORE I DIE NEXT YEAR, he said.
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