In the early days of medicine, drugs were often dispensed by country doctors who made house calls. The doctor usually had two bags, one for his tools and one for the variety of remedies he would prescribe. As towns grew, doctors opened up offices with drug stores usually established somewhere nearby.
Various sources say that the drug store on the southeast corner of Oak and Front was originally established in 1890 by Dr. J.F. Kincheloe. Kincheloe Drug later became Hamilton Drug and then Hayden Drug before becoming Greeson Drugs.
Dr. William R. Greeson opened up his drug store in 1908. When F.U. Halter built the three-story Halter Building in 1917, Greeson’s became the anchor tenant on the first floor. Upstairs were the offices of several prominent doctors—Gordy, Archer, Dunaway, Sneed, Taylor. Patients trudged up the stairs to see the doctor and later came back down to fill their prescriptions at Greeson’s.
Although Greeson passed away in 1923, the drug store continued to dispense drugs. Royce B. Wilkins became the pharmacist and filled prescriptions until his unexpected death in 1941. After his death, his widow continued to operate the drug store and brought J.S. Rogers, Jr. in as pharmacist. She also purchased the stock of Ben and Dave Laney in the Greeson Company.
This is the Greeson’s that most life-long residents refer to when they get that nostalgic look in their eye. Greeson’s was the place where people gathered with friends to enjoy their favorite comfort food and soda fountain creations. It was a popular hangout for both teens and adults.
Greeson’s soda fountain provided a variety of drinks and several tasty sandwiches like grilled cheese, chicken salad, and tuna salad. Soda jerks through the years were Frank Brannon, Sr., Mose Milam and Virgil Shaw. The soda fountain had swivel stools or patrons could grab a booth or table. A balcony was used at one time, serviced by a dumb waiter that sent food and drinks up.
In 1966, Dwayne Goode, owner of Village Rexall Drug in the ConArk Village Shopping Center, purchased Greeson’s drugs and other medicines as well as the prescriptions from Margaret Wilkins before the drug store went on the auction block. Bell’s Men Shop opened up in the location in March 1967 after an extensive remodel. Owned by Cecil Bell, it was managed by Jim Hoggard.
Cindy Beckman is a local freelance history writer. A Look Back also appears monthly in Winc. Magazine. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.