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I Antique Online

A Community For People Who Buy, Sell or Collect Antiques, Collectibles and Art


By Frank Kaiser

Many of us grew up when neighborhood drugstores sold little but drugs and sodas.

In the 1940s, as we perched on green vinyl stools at a marble-topped soda fountain slurping our Green Rivers, who knew that from such humble beginnings would spring Walgreen's and McDonald's?

My drugstore, at the corner of Cedar, Meacham and Northwest Highway in Park Ridge, Illinois, was Nielson's Drugs. It's where I picked up my grandfather's insulin, where I got every sixth ice cream cone free, where I took my first date.

Nielson's, like most all drugstores of that era, began solely as an apothecary. In those days, druggists weren't mere pill pushers. With their mortars, pestles and magic — Eureka! — they developed compounds which remedied many illnesses. Legal cocaine and opium played no small part in making most anyone feel better.

Later, soda fountains were introduced for customers with upset stomachs. Drink bubbly mineral water, burp, and you were good as new.

By the time I came along, soft drinks had replaced bicarbonates, and high traffic for soda pop and ice cream had pushed the druggist to the back of the store.

Sure, there was still that bittersweet medicinal/syrupy smell about the place. But no one complained. We were too busy sucking up Vanilla and Cherry Cokes made with syrup and soda water, Lime Rickeys, made from limejuice and soda, and the ever-popular and oh-so-sweet Green River, “First for Thirst Since 1919.”

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