a kid I can always remember going to the Ammannsville
"Drug Store". I never could figure out why they called it a drug
store. It sold no drugs. It was just a beer joint that specialized
in beer and dominoes. It was a bare bones type of place but it had
Any time dad was in Ammannsville
he always figured out a way to make a trip to town and a visit to
the drug store. My sister and I would tag along. For us it was exciting
because we knew we would get a treat. Dad would always buy us an
ice cream cone. Believe it or not, the drug store sold ice cream.
They only had three flavors, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
Old Justin, the wise sage and owner, would scoop the ice cream out
of a cannister from a small freezer behind the bar. Then we would
sit on the high bar stools by the dark oak wood bar or play on the
unique swivel tables. They had some of these old tables that had
swivel seats on them. You could swing back and forth and in and
out. I remember there were only two of these type tables. They were
worn out and rusty but lots of fun. For us kids, it was like a ride
at an amusement park.
There was always a beat up table in the back of the store. It had
seen its better days. The legs were chinked and dented. The paint
was gone. But this was the Domino table, always ready for action.
Seems like there was always a game going on. Old Justin would sometimes
play as well, in between opening beer bottles. Back then all beer
was in bottles (long-necks) and you had to open the bottle with
a metal bottle opener or "Church Key" as they were called. The church
key would be on a string behind the bar. Old Justin never got in
a hurry. If it was his turn to play during the game and you wanted
a beer, you just had to wait. The whole place would smell of smoke
and chewing tobacco. Everyone did one or the other back then. There
was a spittoon by the domino table. Some would hit, some would miss!
The old drug store had creaky wooden floors and large windows that
were always open. The windows seemed huge to me. Big enough to drive
a truck through. It had a door in front and one in the back. The
doors were always open so that the place seemed more like a barn
than a store. It was always cool inside the drug store. A welcome
change from the scorching Texas heat. Yellowjackets would be flying
around. Mud daubers would build nests in the corners. A cat might
wander up on the porch now and then.
Dad would drink a beer and then have another. He loved his beer.
Where he was raised, beer was the beverage of choice, as common
Dad would light up his pipe and have a smoke and visit with whoever
was in the store at the time. Everyone knew everyone else. There
were no strangers. Most everybody was kin or related. There was
never any trouble.
Just farmers shooting the bull!
My sister and I would get bored waiting for dad so we would venture
outside and look around. We would just wander around and see what
we could see. The road in front of the store was pea gravel. It
was kind of a dirty orange color and it made a scrunchy sound when
you drove on it. The gravel would get in our shoes and hurt our
toes. We would always be taking our shoes off to empty the stones.
There was no traffic so you could walk down the middle of the road.
No cars came by at all. Well maybe one...an hour!
We would walk down to the dance hall and pick pecans or stroll over
to the church playground and ride the see-saws. These were the heaviest
see-saws I have ever seen. The boards were like timbers from Noah's
Thick and heavy. About two foot wide. It was an effort for us just
to lift them up. When they hit the ground they would go BLAM and
rattle and reverberate. For fun, we would stand in the middle of
the board and try to balance without falling off. Such simple fun
Eventually dad would come find us and we would all ride back to
grandpa's place. Everybody was happy with the trip to the Drug Store.
memories. Long ago.
the history of the drug store and why it was called that. It goes
back to 1917 when J.J.Fletsam bought a parcel of land from Edward
Rabel and constructed two buildings. One building was used as a
doctor's office and drugstore. The other was a pool room. The drugstore
actually had stockholders. They included: F.J. Parma; J.J. Fletsam;
Dr. Anderson Decalb Lewis; and J.M. Bartos. The doctor sold out
and moved away. Mr. Dobrava and Charles Naiser later bought out
the other shareholders to become sole owners. Then in 1923 the buildings
and land were sold to Matej Bohac. In 1924 the business was sold
to Justin Bartos.
Justin Bartos is the owner I remember. He was always kind and soft-spoken.
He walked slow and talked slow. Never got in a hurry. But he was
always so friendly and likeable. Like an old grandpa. He talked
in low tones with a Czech accent. He always had time.
Through the years the store sold medicines, soda water, beer, wine
and tobacco. There were also some candy, snacks and chips. The store
was a favorite meeting place for people after mass. People visited
here and played pool, cards and dominoes. The store at one time
had a nickelodean and...even slot machines once upon a time.
The other building, the pool room, was run by Matej Bohac and Sons
as a distribution center for the "Meat Club" during World
War II. Meat was rationed and each month a member would take
turns donating a calf for buthering. The cuts of meat were then
distributed on a rotating basis.
Justin Bartos continued to operate the drugstore for many years.
In 1983, he bacame ill. His wife continued to run the business for
another two years. After that the drug store closed.
I really don't know if the drug store is still there. I hope it
is. Even if it is not open, I hope the building is still there.
It was a landmark, a restful spot. A place full of memories for
me as a young kid. It was the place for people to gather and talk.
To tell stories and catch up on gossip and the local news. A meeting
place for the whole area. Full of farmers and hard working people
who shared a common ancestory and bond. A place of welcome and good
cheer. No frills, but lots of friendliness.
It will always be a good memory for me.
A place of mind I can return to.
For me, it hasn't changed a bit.
I remember it just as it was then.
The old Ammannsville Drug Store!
"Once Upon A Line" - Light verse and poetry
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