Interior 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 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.
At 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.
Presiding 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.
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!”
Those 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!