Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How about a Fountain Coke ?

How about a fountain Coke ? That's the old expression for Coca Cola on draught as it were. At Guerin's Pharmacy, 140 South Main Street, Summerville, SC, they still have an original working soda fountain. The unit from which fountain drinks were dispensed roughly resembled the housing of an early 1960's outboard motor. Neither that nor anything in the store is a mock up or some retro marketing gimmick. Guerin's is an ongoing active old fashioned drug store.

We recently wrote about the declining country stores along the back roads and how they seem to have their own distinctive scent. When you walk into Guerin's you know that you're in a real drug store. You must, however, be over forty to have experienced the original scent. When you walk into today's convenience stores or franchise chain pharmacies, all you smell is some sort of masking agent, not really a smell in itself, but a cover up.

Certainly, they can fill the prescriptions for all of those compounds with which we medicate ourselves against modern life, but they also have products which date back many decades that can't be found at the big chain store pharmacies. It isn't a case where such items are no longer made. It is that they don't have mass appeal, they simply don't sell very well so the big stores don't stock them. It is the availability of those obscure, but effective preparations which has nearly passed from the scene as much as the quaintness of traditional soda fountain drug stores which we shall miss.

South Carolina ETV recently made a documentary on such surviving enterprises including Guerin's recently. They had wanted to see how many of these old places had survived. When interviewed, the director expressed shock that so few were still around. Perhaps he doesn't get out much. Anyone who takes the time to look over any community can certify that these places are all, but extinct. We can't preserve many of them much longer and it is certain that we cannot recreate them.

We enjoy the documentaries, but we intend to visit as many of these very special surviving places as we can in the time they have left. We stop often on the road to drop into places like Guerin's. We don't usually need anything, but we always buy some little something or other in return for the pleasure of being there.


Anonymous Ellen said...

Did you treat yourself to a milkshake? I trust that's one of the amenities remaining there.

A similar pharmacy can be found on Main Street in China Grove, North Carolina. (I had the chocolate.)

11:10 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

We went for the fountain Coke and found a tin of something called "Bag Balm". We're still figuring that one out.

Thanks, Ellen, for the comment and suggestion. Would that be the one at 112 South Main Street in China Grove ?

We enjoy suggestions as well as comments and will put China Grove on our list.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BAG BALM . . . I don't know if farmers still commonly use this stuff. It was usually stocked in country hardware stores where farmers had small herds or maybe just one or two cows, for problems with the udders. Either Bag Balm or a similar product was made by Johnson & Johnson. I was selling a new hardware product at the time, and always pointed to the J&J product in the store to alert the proprietor to the fact that he was already selling a product by the same company. Yeah, a LONG time ago!

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Yessir, China Grove Drug Company. Drive out Main Street aways for good barbeque at Porkey's.

Bag Balm, if I reccommember the story, was used by dairy farmers on their hands when milking ole Bessie. I'm sure she appreciated it.

Farm wives discovered that it was good for dish pan hands. My Grandmother used it all the time. And yes, we teased her all the time.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Thanks for the background on "Bag Balm". Well, it does seem as if it could well have such an application. Once farms became " agri-businesses " this stuff probably was shipped in drums and applied by machines to the affected areas. I wonder if the cow misses the hands-on treatment?

12:49 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

An old fashioned drug store AND BBQ! Thanks yet again, Ellen. That doubles our interest in visiting China Grove.

As to the "Bag Balm" we have supporting testimony as to its special properties. It looks handy for the hands, too. We just can't find an application for it on the Mustang yet.

1:06 AM  

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