Park Pharmacy’s 1948 nifty new soda fountain

compressed-park-sodaInterior photographs of Arlington businesses are quite rare, so when this one appeared recently on eBay it was purchased by a donor as a gift to the Society. This inside view of Park Pharmacy is published for the first time here.

park-pharmacy-ad-1937-clarionPark Pharmacy was located in Arlington Heights on the northeast corner of Park Avenue, diagonally across from its nearest competitor, Menotomy Pharmacy. There had been a drug store at this location since Thomas Emus moved there by 1914.  Emus operated two pharmacies in Arlington for a few years, and when he sold the 1323 Massachusetts Ave. location, the name was changed to Park Pharmacy by 1925.  The business closed around 1970.

The pharmacy did not commission this photograph. It was made as part of the portfolio of the “Sterling” counter dealer. For readers who can imagine color in a black-and-white image (and those with fond memories of their old kitchen Formica), the counter top was “tan linen” and the facing pattern was “Prima Vera with quartered walnut die.”

Although the counter was the star of the show in this image, what’s much more interesting is the selection and quantities of merchandise kept in stock. The photograph is undated, and detective work on minute details of the products suggests the timing is Christmas of 1948.

cottAt left is a floor display rack of Cott brand soft drinks, advertising “15 delicious flavors,” a number that would increase after 1948. This was a few years before the slogan “It’s Cott to be good!” appeared.

Rising in the background are shelves holding a dizzying array of smoking products: Wellington, King, Tru-Line and other brands of pipes; tins and pouches of Burley & Bright’s Half-and-Half, Granger’s, Revelation, Sir Walter Raleigh, Union Jack, and Velvet tobacco, to name a just a few; Phillies cigars; cigarette cases . . . and in close proximity, cough drops and throat lozenges.

godfrey-chesterfield-adPresiding in the tobacco section is a framed poster of popular radio and television broadcaster, Arthur Godfrey, in his role as spokesman for Chesterfield cigarettes.  He is shown holding a decorated carton, while saying “Give ’em all my Christmas best!”

To the right of the soda fountain is a glass case displaying what appear to be boxes of dusting powders and other ladies toiletries.  Atop the case are gift boxes of Schraftt’s assorted chocolates, a brand manufactured in Charlestown, Mass., until going out of business in 1981.

On the shelves in the back corner is an odd assortment of fountain pens, flashlights, and Campfire marshmallows.  Perhaps the latter item was there to be put to use in preparing treats served at the soda fountain, to which we return our focus.

Sealtest, a national ice cream brand that was discontinued in 1993, was the featured product.  Among the flavors listed is “Family Roll,” a chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry or cherry ice cream novelty that was introduced in 1948. sealtest-logo

One of the reasons there were so many drug store soda fountains is that it was uncommon for people to enjoy ice cream at home on a regular basis.  Refrigerators typically had small freezer units within the main compartment of the appliance.  Park Pharmacy sold Sealtest’s “space saver square” pint package for 30 cents, along with cartons of Butter Cup cones, to “Make ’em at home!”

serutan-clockThose who came to enjoy a Coke, or a 25-cent ice cream sundae, could keep track of the time by glancing at the wall clock that advertised, of all things, a laxative.  Serutan (its slogan: “read it backwards”) was aimed at folks aged “after 35” as an “aid to elimination.”  Apparently the incongruity of placing such a message directly above the soda fountain, flanked by Coca-Cola decorations, was a notion that was lost on the proprietors!


4 thoughts on “Park Pharmacy’s 1948 nifty new soda fountain

  1. Thank you for this historic posting…I am now living opposite this corner over the old Brigham’s, which I now refuse to call Digumm’s since it has met it’s (most likely) demise recently…I wanted to point out a mistake in your copy, you said 1323 Park Ave., but it was Mass. Ave. according to the sign! My mom, Marion Moody of Jacksonville, Vermont, told me stories about Arlington Heights’ drug stores and ice cream counter’s, including Brigham’s Ice Cream Parlour, when she was in Nurse’s Training at Symmes-Arlington Hospital, must have been around 1930…Evidently it was quite a distraction and treat to walk to the Heights and fill prescriptions and have a Sundae before walking back up the Hill to go to work. I believe her first year she lived in some sort of dormitories they provided for out-of-town Nursing students.
    Partly I chose my present apartment from nostalgia for the last time I saw my mother ‘whole-minded’, without ALzheimer’s … I had just moved to Cambridge, 1982, and she visited me while on a Senior expedition bus trip to the BSO from Jacksonville, Vermont, where she was the Town Nurse for many years…I met her in Boston, and when she got in the car, I asked her where she wanted to have lunch; she promptly said “Brigham’s in Arlington Heights”…It wasn’t what I would call a very good lunch (1982), but full of nostalgia for her and now me… We went and looked at the view from the still then Symmes -Arlington Hospital, she was very surprised the view was about the same…On this occasion, she finally told me the story of why she went through two Nurse’s Trainings! At Symmes, her Supervisor/teacher was ‘an old battle-axe’, who disliked my mother very much, probably for being so beautiful and lively and beloved by the patients–she was famous for her alcohol back rubs!. My mother got good grades on all her other final exams, but made some mistake in memorizing anatomy and the ‘battle axe’ flunked her! and kept her from graduating. She was told she would have to repeat all 3 years again! Not being able to face more hostility from her supervisor for another 3 years, she was able to transfer into Mass. General’s Nursing Training. They let her take her exam again after being in residence for 9 months, and this time she got 100 in anatomy, and graduated at the top of her class. She married my Father, Fremont Bliss Hannam from Lexington, and worked there until I was born in 1939.
    She told me lots of Arlington stories, she had a fiancee, a silver smith jewelry maker named Dana Godeau, who had asthma and had to move to Arizona for his health…she could not see going with him when she was rising fast in her Nursing career; but regretted the rest of her life that she did not…Still she said if she had married him and not my Father, she wouldn’t have had me, so that was sometimes consolation, and sometimes cause for further regret…As I was a spirited dis-liker of authority just as she was, and no end of trouble to her.
    I have strayed off topic, and would like to further, you seem to be the Town Historian, and I wonder if you could point me in the direction of where I could find out about the Godeau family, when the Apartment Building in which I live was built (1326 Mass. Ave.) and other history of the 20’s, 30’s, early 40’s of Arlington. I have some photo’s of that era, that I would like to donate to the town if you would be interested, if I can dig them up from my storage boxes. Thanks so much for your valuable research and knowledge.

    All the zest,

    Deborah Lotus

  2. I have many happy memories of time spent “down the Heights” when I was a girl growing up in the 1940’s and 1950’s. My best, and lifelong friend Freda Spector, (married name Warrington) and I met in 1946 when my family moved into 27 Ashland Street, across the street from her 33 Elmore Street house.I was four and Freda three when we first met in the driveway of the 15 Ashland Street, a house made somewhat famous in recent years when it was the subject of a “This Old House” renovation. Seventy years later we are still what the kids today would call “BFFs.” Freda’s father, Asher Spector, owned Park Pharmacy, but we still needed to pay a nickel to get our frosty root beers and sit at the counter. Freda and I frequented Ben Franklin’s, and did errands for our mothers at Harry’s Delicatessen. We were able to go the Heights by ourselves when we were as young as 8 and 9. By the time we were 10 and 11 we could take the trolley to Arlington Center by ourselves. Today social services would visit a family which granted that much freedom to children so young.

  3. I helped my father, Asher Spector, with dusting and stocking in the store. One time when I was about 9 he told me that he’d given me an onion ice cream cone, so en route home by the Locke School and the “wild” red setter dog, I knocked off the ball of ice cream onto the ground. That store provided the tuitions money for all four college tuitions for the Spector children. We are most grateful for all of his hard work.freda spector warrington

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