My Christmases Past

It was an annual event in our home. It happened every summer, but it’s focus was Christmas.

My Dad was a pharmacist and owned his own drug store with everything imaginable for our seasoned shoppers.

There was a jewelry department—with costume jewelry, 14k gold options and sterling silver. They were displayed neatly on velvet lined trays that rotated around the glass case much like a Ferris wheel. Push one button to rotate forward, another to rotate backward. I loved looking at every shiny piece.

We also sold perfume, sunglasses, greeting cards, toys and of course drugs for anything that ailed you.

My favorite was the toy aisle, which is why I had a significant role in our annual summer event.

My parents purchased merchandise for our shelves from The Allen Drug Company. An independently owned drugstore distributor.

Every summer they put on a “wholesale only” trade show for retailers to select what they wanted to make available to their customers for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

My Dad invited me to come and help them purchase toys that kids my age would want. As payment for my expert opinion I was allowed to choose one toy for me.

It was a child’s dream come true.

Some now nostalgic toys that were new to me then:

  • Slinky
  • Gyro wheel
  • Clackers
  • Silly Putty
  • Weaving loom
  • Etch-A-Sketch
  • Lite Brite
  • Easy Bake Oven
  • And so.much.more

My dad also raffled off a giant toy and candy-filled stocking every year to one lucky child.

As a pre-teen I enjoyed gift-wrapping the items our customers purchased, a free service. We had a giant roll of red striped paper on a steel cutting wheel that worked much like a roll of aluminum foil does today.

We had a new contraption that made bows in no time. With lots of ribbon choices, each gift was a unique work of art. I loved creasing the corners and taping the gift perfectly. I still enjoy wrapping gifts today as much as I did then.

Remembering my Christmases past has been a delight to behold. What memories do you have of Christmases past?

Fall In Florida Favorites

Photo by Shaine Tsou on Unsplash

I was born and raised in Central Florida. My dad was a pharmacist back when this profession garnered great respect in the local community. It was no different for our family. He was lovingly referred to as “Doc” due to the fact that he was always willing to give health advice to his customers anytime of day or night. He used his knowledge for the good of all who knew him with patience and kindness.

My maternal grandparents wanted my dad to succeed, so they purchased two lots in an up and coming community to the west of Orlando called Pine Hills. It was a “bedroom town” for the newly built, Martin Marietta plant.

“Martin Marietta began Orlando operations on Dec. 4, 1957, with 2,700 workers on about $200 million in orders for missiles and antiaircraft guidance systems for the Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy.”

Source: Washington Post

My Dad’s store, Silver Star Pharmacy, opened in 1960 to serve the many families moving to the area. It would become a hub of the community, it even had a soda fountain for friends to gather for the blue plate lunch special. I can still hear the sizzle of hand-pressed burgers on the grill.

The road in front of the store was a two-lane dirt road called Silver Star Road, and it was located at the intersection of Pine Hills Road. This was the main intersection in Pine Hills; A perfect place for a budding business to have the best shot at success.

Grand-opening day arrived. My parents hired a horse-drawn carriage to draw families to the celebration with their children. Free rides were given to the eager kids, and a tree was given to the first 100 potential customers. A great gift to a brand-new community.

These trees are the focus of my Fall in Florida favorites. Golden Rain Trees provide the only Fall colors in our state during the months of September through November. We get Fall colors, but not usually until January. A sad fact for me, since Fall is my absolute favorite time of year.

These trees are the kind that propagate so it’s no surprise that the 100 trees planted in 1960 have become hundreds, if not thousands of trees in Central Florida.

This is one just around the corner from our home

Quick Fact: I didn’t see Fall happen until 2012 when my husband took me away for the month of October just so I could experience it for myself.

My Mom and Dad are gone now. But their legacy remains. Not the pharmacy–it closed in the 1990’s due to the change in medical care–that’s another story. What remains are these beautiful trees that put on a display of bright yellow first, then turn to a rust red. Our Florida trees of Fall color bring me joy each and every year. And I always whisper a prayer of thanks for my parents who made it happen.

This is the 4th post in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Prompted to Remember

(Photo from 1962, Silver Star Pharmacy)

I am a part of a writer’s group that provides a writing prompt once a week in order to help us keep the creative juices flowing. This past week’s prompt led me down an unexpected path. The following is the prompt and what I wrote in response.

Wednesday Writer’s Prompt:

What place, or kind of place, elicits fond memories of the past?

Opening the door was an entry to my childhood. A time capsule bursting open in celebration of what once was.

The soda fountain served guests a daily special prepared by our beloved cook, Flossie. She was like a grandmother to me, always making sure I had enough food in my belly to fuel my curiosity. The clattering of dishes passing through the triple sinks to wash, rinse and sanitize were the background music of life in my Dad’s Pharmacy.

The regular customers provided a cadence call of life in our small town, beckoning us to participate together in life’s difficult moments.

But the center of it all was my dad’s caring heart. Each customer knew they had a faithful friend who would sacrifice time with his family in order to provide for their needs in crisis. He listened to their laments and carried their concerns to God in prayer.

But that was then.

Sadness cloaks me with a familiar comfort. Gone are the customers, the needs, the community of friends who called my Dad “Doc”. Gone are the rich smells of comfort food served with a smile. Gone are the days of my childhood.

Yet the memories linger as I sign the paper ending an era. Soon this building will belong to someone new.

(Photo from 2017)

We will go our separate ways to live our dreams and provide for those to whom God has given us to care and provide.

Tomorrow’s memories are being written on the walls of today. Each day matters; make them count for eternity.