The pharmacy was a social meeting place for villagers

— Photo courtesy of Michele Perras
Villager Joe Gaglioti cashes out with Gil DeLucia at the register.  In the fully-stocked drugstore, the little girl at the ice cream bar awaiting her treat of Armstrong Dairy ice cream is Michele De Lucia, now Michele Perras, daughter of the owner.

— Photo courtesy of Michele Perras
The full staff of DeLucia’s drugstore in its heyday were, from left, Jack Walters, pharmacy student; Kay Bliss, clerk; Gilbert DeLucia, owner and pharmacist; and Gene Holenstein, pharmacy intern.

— Photo courtesy of Michele Perras
The bucolic scene on unpaved, tree-lined Main Street in Altamont shows the DeLucia drugstore sign, advertising drugs, sodas, and cigars, with the D & H Railroad crossing in the distance. The village park had a fence all around it.

A pharmacy, now called a “drugstore,” is an integral part of life in a small village.  Altamont residents have had a pharmacy, off and on, since 1885.

The pharmacy became a necessity and a social meeting place for villagers.

The beginnings of a pharmacy are very old.  The origins of pharmaceuticals started in ancient Greece when the juice was first extracted from a leaf to heal a wound.  In Egypt, physicians and priests were divided into two classes: those who visited the sick and those who remained in the temple to prepare remedies for patients.

In ancient Europe, the separation of healing between physician and herbalist was recognized.    In America, Benjamin Franklin took the step of keeping the two professions separate when he appointed an apothecary to Pennsylvania.   

This historian can remember in her hometown area when the pharmacy (drugstore) was just that.  A place to pick up your medicine and perhaps another few healing remedies like bandages or cough syrup.

American pharmacies or drugstores today have become small grocery stores, carrying canned food, cosmetics, soda, candy, paper goods, toys, personal toiletries, and many items needed in a household. In addition, large supermarkets today usually include a pharmacy within.

Altamont’s first drugstore was on Main Street and run by Mssers. Davenport and Frederick.  On July 4, 1885, The Knowersville Enterprise, Altamont’s first newspaper, which changed its name when the village did, announced that an ice-cream bar was going to open in that “drug store.”  That must have been real news for town residents!

There was the Stephen A. Venear Altamont Pharmacy on Main Street open from 1926 to 1954.  In addition to prescriptions, they served newspapers, candy, sundries and also ice cream.  Pictures accompanying this column are of Gilbert DeLucia’s drugstore  at the same location.  It opened in 1956 and closed in 1991.

It is the one most likely remembered by today’s village residents.The late Gilbert DeLucia was from Greenwich, N. Y. and opened the pharmacy at 182 Main Street, the familiar location.  The building once housed The Altamont Enterprise and the Altamont Post Office.

The DeLucia drugstore, besides filling prescriptions, carried many necessary items for the housewife and home, it also had a soda bar and sold Armstrong’s Ice Cream.

I wonder if anyone else might open an Altamont drugstore. Wouldn’t that be historic and nice?