Another interesting spot in Galveston for the senior crowd that is definitely off the beaten trail is Star Drug Store. This is no longer a typical drug store because the typical drug store doesn’t exist anymore. Star Drug is a trip back in time and a place to reminisce. It’s located in old downtown on 23rd St.. We went there because it was the place where my partner went each morning for coffee and bought our few drug needs when I was a medical student. She worked directly across the street. It was truly a trip back in time for us and we wanted to better acquaint our grandkids with our time. We also wanted them to see what a real soda fountain looked like and to see the tile floor of an old drug store.
Star Drug is the oldest drug store in the state. It was built in 1886 and renovated in 1909. A horseshoe shaped fountain was added in 1917 and is still the main feature of the store. It operated until 1998 when a fire partially destroyed the place. The current owner purchased it in 2001 and the place has been restored almost to its original state.
Star is called a drug store but they don’t sell drugs there anymore. It’s a tourist place now that serves meals and all of the old time fountain goodies. There are a lot of cabinets displaying antique sit-abouts and old jewelry for sale. I ordered what I used to have years ago when I frequented drug store eateries, a grilled cheese sandwich. I then committed the ultimate sin with my three grandchildren. I ordered us all a banana split but shared mine with the youngest granddaughter. I hadn’t had a banana split in over ten years and, boy, was it great.
Drug stores just aren’t like they used to be when my brother worked in one as a soda jerk. Drugs are now sold at big places like Wal-Mart and the Super Grocery Chains. The dedicated drug stores like Walgreen’s and CVS are just mini Wal-Marts. You pay more for the merchandise at Walgreen’s and CVS but it is much easier to get in and out of these places than the Wal-Mart Supercenters. None of these places would think about having a soda fountain. Dispensing the ice cream and fountain goodies is just not as profitable as the drugs.
The old drug stores in my hometown usually had a doctor’s office located on the floor above the store. The poor patient had to climb the stairs to get medical help and when they came down to wait for their prescription to be filled they would order refreshments from the fountain. I once asked one of these old time docs about having his office upstairs and the difficulty for patients making the climb. He said, he figured if they made it to the top of the stairs there was some hope for him being able to help them. It was sort of like an old fashioned stress test. The doc didn’t have to fool with all that expensive technology like Nuclear Medicine and CT to test your heart.
After the visit to Star Drug, I’m thinking about splitting one of the bananas in our kitchen and putting a few scoops of ice cream on top with strawberry and chocolate syrup and a little crushed pineapple. I can then spray some of that fake whip cream on top along with a few nuts and a cherry and I will have a delicacy for the Gods. Eating that on the porch will indeed be like heaven. It will probably be as good a stress test for the heart as the stairs were in the old drug stores. If I can survive another banana split then maybe even the modern docs can help me.