Do You Remember…City Drug?

This week, I will be highlighting the City Drug Store, another downtown business from Sapulpa’s past. I have very fond memories of the City Drug Store. It was a wonderful place to spend my free time while not working at my Dad’s store, Betzler’s New and Used, which was located next door to Young’s Law Office.  I merely had to walk south across Dewey, and cross Main Street to enjoy the best 5–cent fountain Cherry Coke in town.

I can still remember what the store looked like. On the outside, by the door was a  penny scale that also told your fortune. When you walked in the front door, to your left, were miscellaneous items, such as figurines and knick-knacks, which adorned many a mid-century house. To the right were toys, such as balsa wood airplanes, squirt guns, and caps guns. There were board games on display, such as “Chutes and Ladders” and “The Game of Life.” Further on the left, were shelves that reached to the ceiling and a long, wooden ladder to access merchandise on the upper shelves. The pharmacist was straight back.

To the right was a wall which separated the soda fountain and booths. Across from the booths was a large magazine display. Further to the west was a rack holding paperback books, most of which were Westerns and corny romance novels (both genres which I did not read). Next was the comic book rack, holding such favorites as Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Archie. Last but not least, next to the comic book rack was the pay phone booth, with folding doors, where a phone call was a dime.

The soda fountain had the little bar stools with vinyl covers. My friends, R. L. Bullock and Daryl Howard, and I spent many an afternoon enjoying the Cherry Cokes, Coke floats, and ice cream cones. When I was in grade school, through junior high, a single dip was a nickel. The older lads would flirt with the young girls working the soda fountain, but I was always too embarrassed to listen.

Many times, my friends and I, would buy our drinks and then sit in the booth and read comic books (or in my case, a magazine such as “Popular Science”), without paying for them, of course. I am sure that was frowned upon, but we were never reprimanded.

Like most drug stores of the day, one could purchase toothpaste, mouthwash, and an assortment of over-the-counter medicines, as well as cigarettes and cigars.

From what I understand, City Drug Store was purchased while still in operation, by Arthur Lawrence, around the turn of the 20th century. Jack Lawrence, Arthur’s son, upon graduation from pharmacy school, immediately went to work at the drug store as a pharmacist in the 1940s. The drug store closed in 1994.

Jack Lawrence, who took over the drug store from his father Arthur Lawrence, always had a smile on his face and a pleasant greeting to everyone who came in the store. My parents used City Drug for all their prescriptions. I remember, at least once, that my mother called Jack late at night needing a refill for medicine for me. Jack met her up at the drug store and filled it for her. I have learned that he did that for a quite a few people. That, my friends is real customer service. It was an act of human kindness, not merely fulfilling a business obligation.

I will forever cherish my memories of the City Drug Store, the employees and the Lawrence family. I wish to thank Cindy Lawrence, and Skip (David ) Lawrence for their info and newspaper clippings.

https://agents.farmers.com/ok/sapulpa/steve-grogan
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Charles Betzler

Charles Betzler

Long-time Sapulpa resident, Charles Betzler, followed his father, Charlie, into the radio and TV repair business. At age 9, he fixed his first broken radio and his first love is vintage audio equipment. In his 50 + years of technical work, graduation from OSUIT, and years of Continuing Education, Charles, in his capacity as Emergency Management Director of nearby city, designed the Emergency Operations Center, and the radio-activation system for the sirens. In his long career, he has repaired every type of consumer electronics from black-and-white TVs to the latest lap-top.