Towanda Drug Store Submitted by Rose Remschner, 2006 When the new Sachs building was erected after the Roadnight fire in 1905, the rooms were occupied by the Post Office on the west end, then the pool hall, then a grocery store run by the Fosters and later the Tylers, and a drug store, then the bank. Frank Ratliff eventually bought the building. The Drug Store was operated by Mr. Edward E. Gabriel, a pharmacist from Chicago. He was a brother of Charles E. Gabriel, the noted hymn writer. He had a beautiful little store with new show cases and furnishings and a soda fountain. It became necessary for him to retire and sell his drug store because of a heart condition and doctors order. In 1923, Lewis Michael bought the drugstore. Mr. Gabriel stayed on a week to train the new owners. The grand opening was Easter week, and for the occasion the window decorations were made of hand painted tulips and leaves, cut outs, bunnies, and eggs etc. The candy, tobacco, stationery, and school supply cases beautifully bevel-edged, glass counters. There were two wire legged tables and eight chairs to match with covers of green and white stripped canvas, and small set like them for little folks. There were large ceiling kerosene and gas lamps which were shined and refilled every day. The prescription counter served as a partition across the back of the room and the back of it was one huge bevel-edged beautiful mirror which at first glance seemed to enlarge the drug store as one entered the front door. As there were no pharmacists, the doctor in town, Dr. Paul A. Humphrey, came in and filled his own prescriptions. Back of the prescription department, the walls were lined with shelves holding dozens of prescription jars of drugs, many of them leftovers from the former G. W. Howard and William Macy Drug Stores. The East wall was solid shelves and drawers, which held commercial drug remedies and assorted supplies, pills, tablets, etc. The soda fountain was on the west side of the room. In those days there was not electricity in Towanda and the fountain was hand operated meaning that every so often it had to be charged by hand (about once a week). To do so, a soda tank was placed on a wooden rocker, attached to a tank of gas and rocked for 30 minutes continually to keep in motion, then taken back to the fountain for use. There were many porcelain � gallon and quart containers on the fountains to hold the different flavors which had to be mixed. Concentrated fruit flavors by the bought and mixed with simple syrup as needed. The syrup was made by bringing equal parts of sugar and water to a boil. A trip to Bloomington every other day was made for provisions. Hildebrandt Drug Store in Normal supplied the patent medicines and many other things. Candy, cigars, cigarettes, chewing gum, etc. and fountain supplies came from the wholesale grocery in Bloomington. Stationery, school supplies and pens came from W. B. Read Wholesale Company. Ice came from an ice supply house in Bloomington. Page 1 of 2
In 1926, the law came up that a pharmacist had to be present at all times so the store was sold to Edward C. Biasi of Bloomington, who engaged Harlan Jenkins, a pharmacist from Pontiac, to operated the store for him. Mrs. Michael continued to work at the drug store. Also in 1926, electricity was installed in Towanda so lights and a new fountain was installed. Not many years later Harlan Jenkins bought the store from Mr. Biasi. In 1940 Jenkins sold out and went to California. George and Esther Michael owned and operated a restaurant and lunch room there. When they sold out the Drug Store ear was ended. In 1924 Lewis Michael built an old station and lunch room just before the northwest curve on old route 66 which he operated for a few years and after that a Roy Hiser ran it. In the 1930's Jack Zilic ran a gas station and restaurant on old route 66. The building is still there (old route 66 and Madison Street). There were also overnight cabins for traveler. Those are gone now.
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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