Between Security Bank on the left and Safeway on the right is the building housing my father’s dental practice. His operating room was on the north side of the second floor where the light was best. He shared a waiting room with Dr. Sam J. Albright.
n the mid 1930s I got a job at Stotts Drug Store on the south side of Courthouse Square. Jobs for school-age boys were hard to come by in those days so my father’s friendship with L.O. Stotts was lucky for me. Dr. Stotts did not have a soda fountain, but he did have a Coca Cola drink cooler and a Fortune’s ice cream cabinet in the front end of the store along with a supply of cigarettes, cigars, gum, candy, peanuts and mints. This was my bailiwick, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Our ice cream came from Memphis by bus in five-gallon fiberboard containers kept frozen with dry ice and insulated with thick quilted jackets. Leftover dry ice was put into the Coca Cola cooler. A frosty bottled Coca Cola on a hot summer day was a real treat, especially when accompanied by a package of Tom’s roasted Spanish peanuts dumped into the bottle. Cokes and Tom’s Peanuts were five cents each. One consumer apparently became addicted to Coca Cola. I noticed he went to the cooler often, so I ran a tally one day. He consumed 22 in a 10-hour period.
I could always distinguish our bucolic customers. When they wanted ice cream they invariably asked for a “cone of cream” or, sometimes, a “comb of cream.” Dr. Stotts stocked sugar cones only, and instead of the usual round ice cream scoops, he provided a pistol-shaped device that was pushed barrel first into the ice cream and extracted. A plunger was engaged, pushing a perfect 1 ½” x 5” cylinder of ice cream onto the cone. We were the only store in town that offered such a novelty.
One of our druggists who worked for Dr. Stotts was Joel Chandler, brother, I believe, of Rudolph Chandler, undertaker. One day a customer came in complaining of “stinkin’ feet.” I referred him to Joel who, in turn, ushered him back to Dr. Stotts. I was most interested in the case as I thought I might have a slight case of the same malady. I listened as Dr. Stotts very seriously counseled the customer. The result was a compound formulated by Dr. Stotts and sold to the customer in a half-pint bottle complete with instructions on the label somewhat as follows: Wash feet six times a day with hot soapy water. Rub hard with wash rag. Rinse and dry feet. Apply compound liberally to feet after washing. Put on clean socks after each application. Contents: C3H5(OH)3 and Tincture of Unctous Roses. Refill two times only. My curiosity got the better of me so I asked Dr. Stotts what was in the bottle to which he replied, “Glycerin and rose water.” He also said the foot washing and clean socks would probably do the trick but that glycerin feels good and the rose water smells good. To my knowledge the customer was satisfied, for he never came back.
In the rear part of the store were four green metal lawn chairs ostensibly to accommodate customers waiting for prescriptions to be filled but, more often than not, occupied by W.E. Word, Bill Gilliam, Bill Roth and my father Dr. R.W. Toler. Much of the paint was worn off the chair seats.
One Saturday morning Dr. Stotts asked me to go into the rear storeroom and open a one-gross box of electric shavers, stating that I would be responsible for selling them from the front end counter. I looked forward to this venture as a pleasant break in the routine and proceeded to stack the shavers on the counter much like canned goods at Sanitary Market. I thought they looked attractive. Dr. Stotts thought otherwise. He had me return all the shavers but two to the storeroom. I was to advise prospective customers that I had only two shavers remaining. I was somewhat concerned about the ethics of the ploy until Dr. Stotts explained that, indeed, I had only two shavers at the front and he had the remainder in the storeroom. He had placed ads in The White County Citizen and The Daily Citizen and the customers came rolling in, many buying two shavers. I got plenty of exercise running back to the storeroom.
REWARDS IN HEAVEN
One Saturday in the early afternoon, Ben Shannon came in to the store and proceeded to the back to talk with Dr. Stotts. After a few minutes they both came to the front and asked me to take a few minutes off to set up Ben’s public address system on the east lawn of the Courthouse so Rev. J.I. Cossey could preach to the crowd gathered there. Ben had to work at McElwee Ford’s garage. I was happy to oblige and looked forward to the extra money I would surely earn. After the preaching I dismantled the PA system and arranged the parts for Ben to pick up. As we were loading Ben’s car, Rev. Cossey came up and thanked us, saying to Ben and me, “You’ll receive your rewards in heaven.” I didn’t set up the PA system any more. I believe Ben declined to provide it any more at no cost. At any rate Rev. Cossey bought Ben’s system, or one just like it, and learned to set it up himself. At one time he had a PA system set up in his Ford Model A coupe. I remember he was a big man – over six feet tall – and his head brushed the head lining of his car. I became very fond of Joel Chandler, Dr. Stotts and Ben Shannon, but I never developed warm feelings toward Rev. Cossey although I did like his daughter Mary Helen.
Incidentally, my imagined stinkin’ feet problem turned out to be a pair of Keds tennis shoes I kept too long.
(The author is a member of the White County Historical Society.) vvv