During our recent quick trip to Dallas we made a special trip to Highland Park Pharmacy at 3229 Knox just a few blocks from the Hotel Palomar. I love to see it when a soda fountain is still serving up custom sodas like the old days. This corner pharmacy is a great place to get a tasty lunch and soda and get all nostalgic. Serving sodas like days of old, the doors were opened back in 1912. Glad to see it was busy with the lunch crowd. Now owned by local grocery magnets Sonny and Gretchen Minyard Williams, Mr. Williams has been a steady customer since he was a kid and continues on a great tradition of service. When you visit be sure to read about the history of the place that hangs above the soda fountain. We settled on a fudge sundae for dessert. Yummy, and yes they serve cherry Cokes and the original Dublin Dr. Pepper (with pure cane sugar) as well.
I worked behind the soda fountain from '64 to '67 during the summers and on the weekends. My first milk shake was a total disaster. I was just the dishwasher at the time, but they were so busy I decided to help out thinking that I had watched enough to know how to do it. I put way too much milk in it, and when I put it on the mixer, milk and ice cream flew everywhere. Sarah quickly came to my aid, helped me clean up the mess, and taught me how to make one. That's after she quit laughing at me. She then taught me how to make sodas and sundaes. From then on I waited on customers when I wasn't doing dishes. Coffee was 10 cents a cup with all the refills you could drink, to a point. When you got to that point Sarah would politely cut you off.
One of my favorite memories was that Charlie used to cook the chicken for his chicken salad every morning on a stove back behind the pharmacy portion. It was always fresh made daily as were all the items. One day a customer told Charlie that she found a bone in his chicken salad. Without blinking an eye Charlie said "That's impossible because I only use tuna in my chicken salad." In 1966, my senior year at North Dallas High, I stopped working full time. I would still go in and have a coke and sandwich. Charlie would almost always come up to me and ask "How's the wife and kids?" I would say just fine. He would ask if it was still just ten kids, and I would acknowledge this. One day I heard one of the customers ask one of the waitress's if I really had that many kids. Charlie really had a great since of humor.
Sarah Hogan/Rodgers and Charlie Day have to be the best bosses that I've ever had. If fact the whole crew was great. There were Doc and Tommy Wheelis ( may have spelled that wrong), Dixie and Alice Dunn, and Louise DeFreeze along with several waitresses. I cannot remember the name of the third owner, but she took care of the finances and officed upstairs. When she was there the TV was turned off because it annoyed her. Tommy was Charlie's relief short order cook. He would send me to the Highland Park Cafeteria once a week to buy him an order of chicken and dumplings for his dinner. My mother and Louise were friends. I think that was the reason that I got the job. I think I started out making 17 cents an hour. That was a lot of money for a 15 year old back then.
I remember most of the regulars of the time like Miss Dorothy Douglas and her father, who owned and operated the Flower-A-Day shop across the street. Then there were J G Boyd, his brother, son and daughter, Ed Kellum, the owner Avalon Appliance, Danny Weir, a guy by the name of Jaffe who was good friends with Coach Hyde at North Dallas, and many more. Some times one of the Ashburns would come in with his wife and daughter on Sunday. I always wondered why Charlie bought Carnation ice cream instead of Ashburns ice cream. After all the plant was just down the street in the building where Toulouse is now.
Met my first high school girlfriend, Nancy Foster, at the pharmacy. She worked part time at the jewelry store next to the pharmacy and would come in for lunch some times. Sarah prodded me to finally ask her out. Nancy graduated from Woodrow Wilson. Lost track of her after that. I went on to be in the second graduating class at El Centro and earned a Bachelors degree from North Texas State University. I've lived and worked around Dallas all my life and now live in Irving. With luck I'm retiring this year. So I hope to have more time to drop by for a palm beach, hold the hay, and diet coke.
My oldest son also graduated from UNT. It looks like my other son my be headed there as well. I've taken them to the pharmacy when they were little. I was able to introduce them to Sarah before her death. They in turn have taken their friends there.
Sorry for rambling so much, but this has brought back a lot of fond memories, and I could keep going. I hope you have a great turnout for the 100th.
Pharmzy is what my 10 year old Catherine called it when she was little, so it stuck in our family.
Catherine and her siblings Luke and Caroline are the 4th generation to frequent the Pharmacy in my family.
Her great grandfather (my maternal grandfather), Jac Austin, was a Marine in WWII. His first job out of the Marines was a quality inspector for Coca Cola. He would go to the HP Pharmacy and other places incognito and order a coke to make sure the soda jerks were putting the right ratio of syrup to soda water and stirring it up properly.
Of note is he and my grandmother Sue Austin built the house on the corner of Normandy and Fairfield and the architect was Scott Lyons, one of the more regular Pharmacy customers, until he passed away recently.
I grew up on the corner of Lexington and Abbott and used to go there almost every day in the summers of my youth before heading down to the HP Pool on my skateboard with my brother Matthew.
I now live 4 blocks away on Cragmont and my children do the same, though not as often as I did and Sheila takes care of them.
I'm 46 years old and have had a house account since college.
If someone said I was leaving Dallas and could have 1 last meal there, it would be @ the Pharmacy. The food is ok (malts and freezes are world class!), but the memories and experience are timeless.
In 2006, I was on a business trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador. I was told that one of the people I was to meet was from Dallas. It turned out to be Audelia High from Highland Park. She is active in higher education there and is married to a high-ranking political leader of that country. In our conversation, she told me how as a young girl she would walk from her home on Princeton to the Highland Park Pharmacy. Her "job" then was to straighten up the magazine rack and for doing that her pay was a malt. Upon returning to Dallas, I told Sonny Williams of my encounter. He gave me a coupon for a free malt for sharing the story. Instead of using it, I took it with me for my next meeting with Audelia a couple of months later. While sitting at the table in their boardroom with several of her colleagues, I presented her with the coupon. She was thrilled, to the surprise of those with her. She said, "You don't understand, this is worth its weight in gold." Well, gold was not worth $1600+ an ounce then, but it still made her day by bringing back very fond memories.
Dale C. Hager, Jr.