News-Journal, February 22, 1965
STRAWS IN THE WIND By Harry
The two rooms east of the corner building
from Main north along Walnut Street built by J.J. Tyler and
John W. Ulrey, after the American House fire in 1883, were
rebuilt shortly after the fire, and both rooms were built at
the same time. The first room is now occupied by the Marks
Drug Store, and the next room, for many years the Urschel
Department Store, is now the west room of the Hirsch store.
The east part of the Hirsch store was occupied in 1915 by
Daniel Sheller with his grocery and bakery. The next room
east, now vacant and formerly occupied by the J. Norman Car
Parts, has had a history of many tenants, and the old timers
do not recall who was in the room in 1915. Next east, the
room now vacant, was the David Derf restaurant in 1915, and
the room along the alley is owned and occupied by Wayne
Luckenbill with his Manchester Floor Covering business. In
1915, Wonderley & Reiff had moved into the building with
their meat market, after it has been vacated by J.M.
Jennings and son, Will, when they built their new grocery
building at Market and Main.
The present Marks building has been used
as a drug store, probably since it was built after the fire.
Andrew Miller had the drug store first; then Dr. David
Ginther, who had his doctor's office in the rear. In later
years Dr. Ginther had his office on the west side of Walnut
Street, where the Smith Barber shop now is located. Ginther
was followed in 1898 by Perry & Rudig. Ira Perry later went
to Rush Medical School at Chicago and practiced medicine in
later years, first at Bippus and then in North Manchester.
They sold to Fred Bechtold and his successor was Charles T.
Gribben, who was operating the store in 1915. Gribben sold
in June, 1915, to A.F. Sala, who had been at Winchester, and
who returned to operate the drug store. Sala bought the
building of Dr. Ginther in October, 1921. Mr. Sala died in
February, 1919, and in April the store was sold to Harry J.
Martin of Peru. Martin sold soon after to Edgar Johnson.
October 20, 1925, Mr. Martin sold the store to J.B. Marks,
who moved here from Peru. Associated with him from the start
was his son, Harold Marks, who took over the business after
his father died; and who had with him in the store, his son,
Harold Marks, Jr. Recently Harold, Jr., bought the store,
his father retiring.
L.P. Urschel had taught school in Chester
Township, served as Wabash County's representative in the
state legislature, and was a member of the hospital board
that built the present Wabash County hospital. He also
served, by appointment, as a trustee of the Boy's School at
Plainfield, and had a keen interest in the operation of the
institution, especially in efforts to make good citizens out
of wayward boys.
Source: CFH Files
MEMORIES OF THE OLD
By Louise E. Marks
David and Laura Ginther
sold the stock and store building at 204 E. Main Street to
Albert F. Sala on December 8, 1921. When Mr. Sala passed
away, Clare W. Sala became owner. She sold to J.B. Marks in
1925 and the building on June 15, 1936. James B. and Harold
L. Marks, Sr. opened the Sala Drug Store for business under
the name J.B. Marks & Son Rexall Drug Store on October 20,
1925. Harold’s pharmacist registration number was 7369. J.B.
passed away in 1938 and his wife, Lillian A. Marks became
building owner. She died in 1964 and that’s when my husband,
Harold L. Marks, Sr. and I became owners.
I remember (1925) that as you opened
the front double screen doors and the large double wood
doors just inside, there was a soda fountain on the right or
east wall, and a large showcase full of cigars in boxes and
tobacco in tins. A variety of tins in one pound or small
cans were there on display. The cigar case was usually very
busy. It never failed that every now and then someone would
call us on the telephone and ask, “Do you have Prince Albert
in a can?” When we’d answer “yes”, they would say, “Well,
let him out!” and then laugh and hang up the phone.
The counter space from the cigar case
helped us to serve the public. There was no self-service;
the clerk had to find a customer’s wants and bring them to
the counter, sometimes one article at a time, as they
decided what to purchase. A roll of wrapping paper, mounted
on the counter, and a ball of twine, overhead, was provided
to wrap the articles together. Small sacks were also used.
Next to the fountain on the east wall
were cases with glass sliding doors. They ran all the way to
the back of the room. In these cases we kept an array of
cosmetics. Evening-in-Paris was very popular. Other perfumes
were Gardenia, Ben Hur, Cashmere Bouquet Talc, Mavis Talc,
Hess Hand Lotion, Glycerine and Rose Water, and Vasoline for
the hands. Rose soap as well as many other soaps were sold.
Shaving soap, lather brushes, razor blades, and razor straps
were kept in the last case.
Spaced in the middle of the room were
round tables and chairs, the ice cream parlor type, with
metal frames. The stools at the soda fountain counter
Wallpaper was sold behind the fountain
tables and chairs. Samples were kept for customers to look
at, but the supplies and trimmer were stored upstairs.
Sometimes we’d go up and down the stairs many times,
bringing down rolls to show the customer the different
patterns before a selection was made. The wallpaper didn’t
come in precut rolls like it does today, so once the
selection was made, we would go back upstairs to use the
trimmer to cut the rolls. The price – was an astonishing 5
cents a single roll and 10 cents a double roll!
On the west wall there were shelves all
the way to the back of the room, to display the drug
merchandise. A drawer case at the back of the west wall held
packaged pills with each drawer numbered and a book hanging
on the side for easy reference information. Hinkle Pills,
Nature’s Remedy, Carter’s Little Liver Pills, and Dewitt’s
Kidney Pills were just a few of the many varieties
We sold school books during the
Depression. But J.B. Marks said he just couldn’t take the
last dollar from the parents to buy books, so he turned the
book business entirely over to Burdge’s Drug Store, since
they sold them too. Burdge’s Drug Store, stocked with
beautiful dishes and crystal-ware in their west building,
along with the J.B. Williams Drug Store, were both in
business in 1925.
The back of the store was occupied by
Gresso’s Store. But at the back of our part of the store,
was a prescription department. It was private and allowed
admittance only to the pharmacist. Under the prescription
case, all sizes of bottles and corks were kept to compound
prescriptions. The doctors wrote each prescription in
formula and in Latin. They carried drugs with them to visit
the ill patients at their homes. But the druggist had to
keep supplies for mixing special drugs. Apothecary weight, a
system of weights used by Pharmacists in filling
prescriptions, was used to measure out the exact amounts
called for by the doctor’s prescription.
The drugs for prescription use were
kept on shelves behind the counter for the pharmacist’s
convenience. Capsules were compounded by measuring the
powders, mixing them in the mortar and pestle, and then
placing them on a pill tile to fill each capsule according
to the prescription. Each was weighed and placed in a
cardboard box. Liquids were mixed in measuring vials and
stirred with glass rods and then poured into bottles with
corks securing their contents.
Some of the supplies kept were quinine
sulfate, elixir of barbital, elixir of pepsin, elixir of
phenobarbitol, extracts of digitalis, narcotics, and many
more. Caster oil came bottled and mineral oil came in a
large drum and had to be measured into quarts and pints.
Vanilla, lemon, almond, and spearmint extracts were also
bottled by the pharmacist. Also red and green fruit
coloring. The veterinary supplies were liniments, Bag Balm,
and other such merchandise.
I must tell you that my husband, Harold
L. Marks, Sr., was very accurate in compounding his
prescriptions and made a great success of it.
Spices were sold by the store clerks
and had to be weighed on separate scales and were then
placed in small sacks. Pickle harvest was always a busy
time. A large quantity of alum and other spices were always
needed. Other popular spices were clove, allspice, cinnamon
in both powder and bark, also celery seed, dill seed,
mustard, black pepper to grind, ginger, whole nutmeg, sage,
and others. You see, grocery stores did not carry spices at
The office was on the balcony at the
back of the main room. James B. Marks was the manager and
bookkeeper and from there could watch the store progress
while working on his books.
On the west wall shelves, we placed the
patent drugs. Some of the varieties were: Jane’s Vermifuge,
Konjola, Lydia Pinkham, Father John’s Cough Syrup,
Chamberlain’s Cough Remedy, Castoria, Vicks, and Mentholatum
Salve. Epson salts and boric acid powder were sold in round
cardboard boxes. And many others lined the shelves. Tin
cans, cardboard boxes, and glass bottles with corks were the
most common types of packaging in those days.
The only heat for the store was
provided by one floor register located in the middle of the
front room. I can tell you it was a lot of hard work looking
after the furnace. At 6:00 a.m. we’d go in to shake the
grates for the ashes. The furnace was filled with coal,
morning and evening. Of course the furnace at home had
already been looked at earlier. Ashes from the furnace had
to be carried out frequently. Coal was delivered in the
summertime. The coal truck driver backed up to the sidewalk,
lifted the iron grate in the sidewalk, and shoveled the coal
into the basement.
We had two telephones in the store. One
of the phone companies was called the Eel River and the
other was the Rex Phone Company. We had to ask the operator
to be sure which bell it was. The operator furnished all
kinds of information since she could listen and keep well
We had electric lights but no
refrigeration. If a storm bothered the light poles to
Wabash, the lights went out. We kept kerosene lamps ready at
all times. Since we had no refrigeration for the ice cream,
the ice man came every day. It’s funny to me now, the ice
man always left a track to the back room, so we always had a
The ice cream was delivered in round
metal containers and we’d place them in a tub, sometimes as
many as three containers, with chipped ice and salt all
around to help keep it from melting. Then we covered it. The
huge tub had a cork in the bottom on the side to drain it.
We made our own syrups. Many times I
remember cooking water and sugar in a large kettle over an
oil stove. It took us all day to get the syrups ready for
the fountain. We mixed the chocolate and thinned the
pineapple and strawberry. We also had cherry syrup – vanilla
and lemon. Two large dips of ice cream were used for sodas
and sundaes. We also hand packed quarts and pints to carry
home. There was no hot water, so we kept a kettle on the
stove to use at the fountain.
Saturday night was a busy time because
everyone came to town to shop, visit, and eat ice cream. One
disadvantage of our double screen doors was that the bugs
always saw the lights. And the old brick pavement went us
dust every time the wind would blow.
The awning on the front of the building
was a real problem. When the sun shone, we rolled it down.
If it was cloudy or stormy, we’d roll it up. And each night
we’d roll it up. Some days your arm got really tired just
looking after the awning!
We worked twelve hours a day and were
on call each night. Our store clerks had shorter hours. I’m
proud to say that, while in high school, eight students
worked at our drug store, who went on to receive their
apprenticeship to enter pharmacy school. Those individuals
were: George Russell
Gilbert; Galen Landis; Verling Landis; Charles Hay; Earl
Cripe, Pharmacist, M.D.; Susan Abell; Harold Marks, Jr. and
daughter, Lizabeth Marks, my granddaughter.
Mr. Marks and I were very proud of each
one, but he didn’t get to see his granddaughter graduate.
We worked together to help the public
and serve our customers, day and night, keeping a clean
store and making the memories that I cherish today. I hope
you too have some fond memories of our drug store and the
sixty years the Marks family was in business.
--Written by Louise E. Marks