As Highland Park Pharmacy proprietor Gretchen Minyard Williams looked around her drugstore, which was filled to the brim with people seated at the soda-fountain stools and others still trying to squeeze in for a table, she seemed wistful yet resigned on Tuesday, September 4. Yes, the place had been a mainstay for generations. But it would be the scene of its final serving of pimento-cheese sandwiches and chocolate sodas on the following Sunday, which just so happened also to be National Grandparents Day.
“It’s bittersweet,” Gretchen said. “There are so many stories of four and five generations of customers. But, nothing in life is certain but change.” With the pharmacy’s demolition, along with neighboring Weirs Furniture Store, scheduled to take place in early 2019, Gretchen wanted to take some time to consider how to deal with the pharmacy’s collectibles, like the retired cash register at the front door. She’d already had offers for the stools and even the cutting board!
Yes, the pharmacy had long been part of the Park Cities scene. So it seemed downright fitting that the Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society should have a send-off party on this night with a sold-out crowd of nearly 80 guests.
At the check-in, PCHPS President-elect Marla Boone was greeting folks while husband Mike Boone was atop a stool at the corner table, munching on a sandwich… Jolie and Bart Humphrey were earlier arrivals and, on the way out, Jolie revealed that she would be the 2019-2020 Aware president.
Among the line of folks seated at the fountain were restaurant world-travelers Paige and Randy Flink, who met 40 years ago. Paige laughed, “We’ve been to a lot of restaurant openings, but this is our first restaurant closing.” She was polishing off a grilled-cheese sandwich with a limeade, while Randy was working on a BLT and an orange freeze.
Just down the row of stools, Deanna and Jack Brown dined on ham-salad sandwiches on wheat toast and chocolate sodas as they recalled memories of growing up in the Park Cities. They were the “sandwich generation” at the pharmacy, with two generations preceding them and two generations following. Jack had attended Bradfield Elementary, while Deanna was a couple of years younger at University Park Elementary. They wouldn’t get to know each other until they attended Highland Park High School. Following their graduation from SMU, where Deanna was a Kappa and Jack was a worker (“I attended school in the morning and worked in the afternoon), they married 56 years ago.
Proving their lineage, they both laughed at how doing summer school was also doing hard time because none of the classrooms had state-of-the-art air conditioning. And then there was the question of which teacher had frightened them the most. For some, it was Highland Park Junior High School teacher Alma Schulkey’s putting the fear of world history into them. For Jack, it was his first grade teacher, Mrs. Murphy, who scared him to death and left him with no regrets when they tore down the old school.
While the dining on this occasion may not have earned a Michelin four stars, it conjured up memories that went perfectly with sandwiches, chocolate sodas and old friends.