A trip back in time...
More days than I care
to remember, after school, and during summer vacation in the
late 50's and early 60's, I occupied a booth at Rheummler's
Drugstore. And since Docie Ray's was the town “hot spot,” I
was privy to all that latest "happenings." I have
memories of Merle Taylor, Janet Eck and Mary Alice Eichem,
dubbed the older, sophisticated "Three Musketeers," always
inseparable, sharing laughs in a back booth. David Storey,
the class clown, had the entire store in stitches many afternoons
with his crazy stories.
Marilyn Duckworth would come in often, and bring
her niece, Lee Ann. Lee Ann was about three at the time, and
Marilyn would plop her up on the ice cream case, and feed her
a snack. She was the prettiest little girl in town, with her
big brown flashing eyes and wide, dimpled smile.
Roxie Mossberger and Dixie James, who both lived
within a block of the drugstore, would stop by after school.
Carl Funkhouser would ride his bicycle to the store for candy.
Cindy Birk would come in for Sweet Tarts. I could probably go
back thru my old yearbooks and tell you drugstore stories about
most of the kids in town.
Then there was “bad boy” Kevin
Marlin. I remember the time he sprayed shaving lotion all over
Doc's coughdrop display. Kevin was always in trouble... Marlin's
Department store had an upstairs loft and that's where his
Dad, Fat Marlin, had his office. One summer afternoon he went
upstairs and sprayed his Dad's electric office equipment with
red spray paint. He would come in the drugstore and get rowdy
and Doc would run him off, but he would be right back the next
day, it didn't deter him at all. He was probably about twelve
years old, when he was pulling these boyish pranks.
Of course the best part of being in the drugstore
was the junk food, except nobody ever called it junk food in
the 60's. The soda fountain had a rack of Lay's products. They
had a paper bag of Fritos for a nickel and a clear plastic bag
of them for a dime. The usual chips, and pretzels, too, but all
the snacks, including candy bars, were five and ten cents. Bob
Fields, from Carmi, drove the Frito Van, and he would make his
weekly deliveries, parking that big old truck with the vintage
Frigo Logo on it, right at the front door.
The fountain drinks at Doc's were the best ever.
Nobody, but nobody, could make a cherry coke like Lucy. Earl
Blakemore had an ice house where the bank parking lot is now,
and he would walk over, carrying a big block of ice using ice
tongs to secure it, plop it in the well of the soda fountain
and collect fifty cents. The ice for every drink was hand chipped.
There were no Pepsi products on the soda fountain in those days,
it was strictly Coca-Cola. You had to cough up ten cents for
a bottle of Pepsi from the machine.
His candy counter was well stocked, and you could
get black and red liquorice whips for 2 cents. My favorite candy
was Valo-Milk. Oh, my, were they wonderful. And Hollywood Candy
Bars, and Zero's... Doc had all the good stuff. Behind the cash
register were boxes of chewing gum, lined up in their boxes,
Wrigley's Spearmint, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit, plus Clark, Teaberry
Around the 4th of July, you could buy cherry
bombs and sparklers. The cherry bombs were really large, and
made a really loud bang when you threw them on the sidewallk.
I think they were finally were outlawed in Illinois, and no wonder,
they were dangerous.
During Mule Days, Doc used to order these wafer
rectangular waffled cookie planks, and they would cut ice cream
slices from half gallon cartons and sandwich them between the
wafers,wrap them in waxed paper and then put in the ice cream
freezer to sell. They only sold them at Mule Days, and they were
really a popular item... I liked the neopolitan ones best, and
would hurry from school to get one before the supply ran out..
I have two really vivid memories
of Mule Days – the
first are the fish sandwiches that the Sportsman's Club deep
fried. It was my first experience with a preformed fish square,
and I was wild for them. Served on a bun with a big squirt of
ketchup, they were just wonderful. And my other memory is Malone's
Taffy Stand. Still in business, I think Malone's comes to Mule
Days even now. It was absolutely to die for... soft, chewy chunks
of milky flavored taffy they sold in a white paper sack. I can
still remember the taste.
The only store in town in
the early 60's that was air-conditioned was The Food Shoppe.
They had a Chilly Willy sign posted on the front door that
said, "It's Cold Inside," and
we would all go there to cool off after riding our bikes.
Those really were the days... A more gentler
time that will never be forgotten, but that can never be duplicated