Elk City Drug Store - Harmon Building - Dr. John T. Blank - Memories by Merrel Blank
This sturdy brick building, constructed near the year 1900, was owned by Sam Harmon.
The Harmon building housed a drug store, cafe, meat market, Modern Woodmen - Odd Fellows Hall, and a telephone office owned and operated by George Swallow. The drug store was rented to two pharmacists, William Wright and son Bert Wright.
My father, Dr. J. T. Blank, also a pharmacist bought the store in 1911. The town also had two more doctors, Dr. Strawn and Dr. Denbo. During the first two years, narcotics, morphine, cocaine, codene, and tincture of opium could be purchased in any quantity, by anyone, without a prescription, or any restrictions or red tape, but they were not abused. No one wanted them.
In 1913, the Harrison Act was passed, restricting any narcotic to prescription, and making it non-refillable. They had to be kept under lock and key and the prescription on a separate file for inspection. After the sale was prohibited, then more people decided they wanted to try the drugs. Such is human nature.
I registered in Pharmacy on August 25, 1915 at the age of 19, the youngest on record in Kansas.
During those days, about 90 percent of the prescriptions had to be compounded, which was time consuming liquids, ointments, powders and capsules. The mortar and pestle, pill tike and scales got a good work out every day.
We carried glass, wallpaper, paint and varnishes, stock foods and poultry products in the store in addition to the drugs.
The cooling system consisted of four ceiling fans, connected by pulleys and belts, and powered by a gas engine in the back room. The soda fountain and candy case were a very important part of the store, especially for the young folks.
Blank Drug store was the favorite meeting place of the town. The big settee in the front, and the "loafers bench" out on the sidewalk were an important part in discussing the many problems of life. One thing about a drug store is that life is never boring. So many different things to keep you busy.
In 1916 the store branched out with two more stores, at Longton and Wayside. Jake Wright operated the Wayside store and I had the Longton store, but we quit them in 1918 as it was impossible to get help, and it was hard to get supplies on time.
In the days before Frigidaire's, our ice cream came by railway express, packed in wooden tubs with salt and ice. The tubs had to be repacked twice a day, nothing was shipped in paste board boxes then. Everything came in wood boxes and sometimes we could get some first class lumber from the boxes. Most of it was soft pine.
We rented the building from Sam Harmon for about 15 years, then finally bought it. Mr. Harmon bought and shipped livestock to the Kansas City Market.
Our goods were brought from the depot by horse-drawn dray, some of it real heavy - 50 gallon barrels of turpentine and Coca Cola.
During Flood times, I remember several times, the water about covered Main Street, but never got up inside the store. It did get under the floor.
Dr. John T. Blank was born in 1865 and died in 1920. He graduated from medical college in Cincinnati, Ohio. He came to practice in Elk City in 1890.
He practiced general medicine, dentistry and optometry. His first office was over the store north of the Drug Store. It was burned out, so he built an office across the street from the drug store.
Dr. Blank and Dora Hatten were married in 1892. They had two sons, Joy and Merrel, two grandchildren, Anna Tallman, of Independence and Robert H. Blank of Lawrence.
Dr. Blank's first wife died in 1898. He and Louise Kruschke were married in 1899. They ran the drug store until their son Merrel was registered in 1915. He took over management then.
Merrel and Lela Blank are retired and live in Altamont, Kansas. Their son Robert Blank lives in Lawrence, Kansas and they visited him just after their 60th wedding anniversary in June 1981.
The Marr Store sale Saturday and Sunday drew large crowds back each day. The stock of miscellaneous items and store fixtures sold well. The building was bought by Mrs. Vineyard of Independence.
The drug store will be missed as it has been in business at this location for at least 81 years, with Mr. and Mrs. Marr being owners 51 years. They bought the store on July 20, 1930.
The couple are parents of six daughters, and as each got old enough, took her turn helping in the store. During high school days the drug store was a favorite place for cokes, ice cream sodas, candy etc. at the close of each school day. Following the football and basketball games there was no better place than the booths to sit, eat, drink and "re-hash" the games.
These are but a few of the memories that will live on in the minds of those who patronized the store. Mr. and Mrs. Marr are to be commended for the many long hours of faithful service to the public. The community joins in wishing them well in their retirement from the store.
Elk City Drug Store being Torn Down appeared in the Elk County Citizen-Advance News March 9, 1982
One of the earliest structures built in Elk City, the Corner Drug Store is being torn down, the brick cleaned and hauled away. The building was built in the early 1880's by the Sam Harmon Organization and was known as the Harmon Block as other buildings were built adjunct to it.
Over the years, the building has been owned and operated by several druggists, the last one being A. L. Marr who bought the building in July 1930 and sold it along with all contents at a two day auction sale in October 1981.
The new owners Paul and Hazel Vineyard operated a Flea Market there until last year, when they sold it to Dean McGee of Buffalo, Kansas who is doing the demolishing.
Elk City won't be the same with a vacant drug store corner as that building holds many memories to all who have lived in the Elk City area. This is the third business building we have lost in the last two years. Our town, as well as many other small places have felt the pinch of the economy and the trend to shop in larger better equipped markets. However, it is still a quiet, friendly and economical place to live.