Remembering Ester, Delores & Owen’s Drug Store

Published 10:21 pm Thursday, August 15, 2019

Remember When column


Father Walter Bryan joins our breakfast group at McDonald’s on Saturday mornings. He comments on the appearance of his neighbor Glenn Burgess’s yard and on my most recent column. I always welcome him as “Padre.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox


This time the Padre asked me whether I’d be writing about his cousin Ester Maybrey Carson. My reply was No, since I did not know her. But after reading her obituary, I wish I had known her. She has certainly left our world a better place for her having been in it.


Another was Carrie Lee Massey, who asked me to tune her piano for one of her high school student protégées. Did not get to know Carrie either, for she had to leave me to my tuning to attend to another community service activity. 


I did enjoy knowing Delores Mahre, though. I met her when she was a County Commissioner and I was on the Courthouse Restoration Committee. Our paths crossed many times over succeeding years. Delores was about my age, always enjoying her life here by taking her part in community activities. I have missed seeing her of late; now I know why.


Another Tryon institution is no more. When I was a boy in the 40s, Owen’s Drug Store was next door to the Bulletin office. Upon entering, the magazine stand was to the left and the soda fountain to the right. Booths extended down the right side to the pharmacy across the back. The floor had several tables with their little chairs. I think there were shelves and counters for other merchandise down the left wall from the magazine stand to the pharmacy.


Since I was working Saturdays for Mr. Vining (Sr., founder of the Bulletin), my mother suggested that I go to Owen’s for my lunch. Marion “Greasy” Edwards would make me a chocolate shake and a toasted spiced ham sandwich. I think they cost me no more that 50 cents total. Sometimes I got a pineapple nut sundae, if I felt I could afford that special treat—probably a whole quarter!


There was usually a group of younger boys sitting on the stacks of comic books on the floor, reading them for free—adults had to reach over them to get a magazine from the rack above. I never did comic books—I bought Air Trails and Model Airplane News magazines!


Fred Owen was the owner and pharmacist, known to everyone as “Doc.” Later when I was in college and conscious of degrees, I asked Fred where he got his doctorate. He said that he did not have that degree, that it was only a nickname. I had not meant to embarrass him; I was just making conversation . . . Now I know several pharmacists who actually have doctoral degrees.


Essie Owen was one of my mother’s friends in town. I never did figure out how Mother and Mama Rippy both managed to have so many friends in Tryon when neither of them drove a car and hardly ever came to town! Essie was a small, vibrant woman, who did not hang around the store . . . so I did not get to really know her.


In those days, the two drugstores (Missildine’s and Owen’s) took turns closing on Sunday. The several gas stations did likewise, staying open on Sundays in a rotation plan. Tryon Theater did have a matinee showing on Sunday, but many churches thought it was sinful to go to a movie on Sunday!


But as I said when some stores in Arlington, Texas, began to be open on Sundays, they would not be open if all the Methodists and Baptists stayed out of them!