Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's the special?

Busy Corner Pharmacy c. 1940. Photo courtesy Robert Wilson.
 In 1921, Frank B. Wilson and business partner, R.W. McAnally, purchased the Baisch Drug Store on the corner of Fir Street and Colorado Ave. They renamed it the Busy Corner Pharmacy and Frank Wilson remained the big cheese at the store until 1965.

The pharmacy was a keystone in Telluride history for more than fifty years and was much more than just some swell place to get your antidotes. Inside the store you could also find cosmetics like liquid pantyhose, buy some “cheaters” (otherwise known as spectacles) grab a snack, get your licorice fix, and have a malted milk shake with your besties. 

In the early 1900s a malt shop was primarily offered out of a drugstore. The term malt itself comes from “malted milk.” Invented in the 1880’s, it’s a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk dried to a powder form. Many fountain drinks and malts before 1914 were extracts of various drugs, cocaine and caffeine being the most known, but also various plant extracts. They were dispensed as a flavored effervescent remedy for your ailments, explaining why the soda fountain was introduced in the drug store. However, “giggle water” sales changed when the “Harrison Act” became a law in 1914 banning the use of cocaine and opiates in over-the-counter products. Shortly after, soda was thought to be “habit forming” and the soda fountain lost its popularity, but only for a short while. Advertisers soon coined the term “soft drink,” advertising the new fountain beverages as “not intoxicating.”

By the early 1920’s just about every drug store had a malt shop or soda fountain. They exploded in popularity during this era most likely due to 1919 prohibition. Closed saloons left a social void that the soda fountain hang outs could now fill. They soon added fare like sandwiches and burgers making the corner drug store the new cat’s meow.

This Busy Corner Pharmacy Menu, circa 1924, popped up in our collections as I was scavenging for a small off site exhibit housed in the now empty pharmacy building. It immediately interested me as a token of  a youthful past that must have been a real applesauce of a time!

Busy Corner menu fare in the 20's:
Sandwich ........... 25 cents
   sandwich spread, peter pan, cheese, hormel ham, or minced ham
   Milk or coffee with order and tomato juice

Soda ..................5 cents
  Orange-Julep, Root Beer, Coca-Cola, Cherry-Julep, Grape-Julep, Plain

Ice Cream Soda ....15 cents
  Chocolate, Orange-Julep, Strawberry-Julep, other flavors

Sundaes .............. 20 cents
   Chocolate Nut, Orange-Julep, Strawberry, Cherry-Julep, Marshmallow

Malted Milks ........20 cents
   Plain, Orange Julep, Chocolate

Fancy Mixed Drinks ..... 15 cents
   Milk Chocolate, Orange or Cherry Julep, Eskimo Freeze, Milk Shake, Frappe, Parfait
I wouldn't know what to spend my rubes on first!
     ~ Cameo 
      Exhibits Manager  
      Telluride Historical Museum