Looking for a chance to relive the soda fountain days of yesterday, think back to a simpler time and see some great old pharmacy items? If so, head to Girard, Illinois Deck’s Drug Store has been a mainstay in Girard, Ill., since 1884. You can sit at the old fashioned soda fountain, have a great lunch and veg, then when you are done, head back and check out the pharmacy collection that was put together by the former owner’s Bob and Bill Deck that headed up Deck’s Drug Store.
Today the drug store is not operational, but serves as a museum filled with the cabinets and displays collected by the Decks. Now the museum and the soda fountain are now owned by The Furniture Doctor – Bob and Renae Ernst – and the museum invites customers to sit down, take a load off and remember when.
In a 2010 interview, Bob Deck shared, “The drug store opened in 1884.”
Originally, Lewis C. Deck (L.C.) and B.F. Clark joined forces and purchased the store from George Post. A few years later, L.C. became the sole proprietor. However, memories of the days they worked together linger. In the display there are some interesting-looking tonics under the name of Deck and Clark, such as a hair restorer (with no wording as to what it contains).Bill and Bob wrote: “This was the time of tonics, remedies, liniments and cures. Pills were made by hand by carefully mixing the ingredients together, using a pill roller to form them into long pipes, then cutting the pipes into specific sizes and allowing them to dry before dispensing.“
At this time no special training was required to be a pharmacist L.C. Deck continued in the business until his death in 1918.”Sons Lewis – called “Bill” – and Harry – known as “Pete” – Deck continued the family business, and by then they could no longer use the word “cure” on labels, nor did they make pills by hand anymore. In 1929 they added the soda fountain that is still in use today.
While the second generation of Decks were working the trade, the third generation was learning as well, and after both older brothers died, Robert “Bob” and Wyman “Bill” Deck took over in 1960. It is such an experience to learn that the long ago drug store was like the general store, they carried everything. A customer would go to one in lieu of going to the doctor and, sometimes, even the vet. “We carried products for chickens and cows. We even had things for coccidiosis!” Bob explained of the old days.
The old-fashioned coffee mill in the store also served as vet service, over the years. “Grandpa made formulas for farmers and vets using that,” he said. “We were asked lots of medical questions, like a doctor; that is why a druggist was often called ‘Doc.’”
The two Deck brothers retired in 2001, selling the store to a registered pharmacist who ran the drugstore for two years, then closed the doors. In 2007 The Furniture Doctor bought the building and opened the soda fountain and called it Doc’s Soda Fountain.
Another lure of Doc’s Soda Fountain is that they are located along Route 66. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Doc’s Soda Fountain/Deck’s Drug Store is located at 33 S. 2nd Street in Girard, Ill. For more information, call 217-627-3491.