March 3, 2020, March/April Froe Chips, written by Richard Stickney
My Grandfather, Richard H. Stickney, was a pharmacist and a chemist. He had a Drug Store on the square for sixty years. He made medications. He had shelves of chemicals and liquids. He also knew the history of each medicine – what country, what kind of plant, leaf, or root they came from and who discovered them. Usually a doctor would write a prescription that was a recipe or an equation for a certain medicine.
My Grandfather had state of the art precision scales with weights. I still have those old scales. He had a still in the back to make distilled water and ‘other stuff’. He would carefully make the medicine that the doctor ordered. There was not much that came from Big Pharmacy. He just made it and knew how to handle it. Most everything was legal for a pharmacist like Codeine, Paregoric and other strong narcotics that were kept in a safe.
All of the ingredients he used were ground up leaves, different alcohols and distilled water. He would grind up the ingredients and carefully weigh them and then he would fill the capsules. If you could not get to town, he would deliver them free. Medicine was affordable and opening a charge account was no problem.
Times certainly have changed. Big Pharmacies figured out how to synthesize all of the natural and proven remedies. My grandfather was not allowed to obtain his natural ingredients anymore. Big Pharmacies stole the compounds and obtained patients on what they stole. Now what my grandfather had invented became illegal. He had to purchase his own compounds in pill form. The prices began to rise. They are still rising to his very day.
In the front of the store on the left there were racks of magazines, comic books, and greeting cards. On the top shelf of the magazine rack, out of reach, there were “adult” magazines, but I knew where the ladder was.
There were spittoons at different places and a counter that displayed tobacco products – cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco and all things of that nature. Above that there were crackers, Cracker Jacks and candy bars.
He also had this large scale. You stood on it, put a penny in it and it would tell you your weight and a ticket would pop out and tell you your fortune. People pretty much knew what they weighed but they enjoyed seeing that ticket pop out. On the right there was a soda fountain. In the basement there was a compressor that made carbonated water. Beside the soda fountain there was a Coke machine. A nickel would buy you a coke. One day the price rose to six cents. They had to modify the machine to take that extra penny. I remember the older folks saying, “Six cents. That is ridiculous. Next thing you know they will cost a dime”. Well they were right about that.
The girls that ran the soda fountain were always good to me. A cup of coffee was a dime. A half a cup was a nickel. Ice cream cones were a nickel for one scoop and a dime for two scoops. I think they had the best lunches in town. You could get a grilled cheese sandwich or even a hamburger. My grandfather got the meat that he used from a butcher named Skeeter Davis, so it was always fresh. You could get a for real milk shake. I still have one of the machines that you used to make them.
He also had a counter that displayed cameras, cosmetics and things of that nature. I still have several of those cameras still in the box. Next to that counter there was a phone you could use for free. There was a handwritten sign beside it that said, ‘This is a public phone – be reasonable or be gone’.