Only in York County

Part of the USA Today Network

Yet more memories of Peoples Drug in York

Sylvia L. Snellbaker shared this photo of the former Peoples Drug Store in downtown York, where she worked from 1970 to 1973.
Sylvia L. Snellbaker shared this photo of the former Peoples Drug Store in downtown York, where she worked from 1970 to 1973.

This week, I’m excited to revisit a topic we have not touched on for a couple of years – memories of the former Peoples Drug in York!

If you missed previous columns on this topic, you can certainly check them out here:
July 15, 2011: Mail call: Memories of Peoples Drug
January 27, 2012: A couple of quick memories about Peoples Drug
March 1, 2013: Ask Joan: Seeking recipe for Peoples Drug sandwich
April 15, 2013: Yet more memories of downtown York from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s
Feb. 20, 2014: Even more memories of Peoples Drug
May 15, 2014: Ask Joan: Seeking more memories edition

After you’ve taken a look at those, I hope you’ll continue on to some newer memories!

Reader Jim Hamm noted that his first job in retail was behind the counter of Peoples Drug as a soda jerk. “What wonderful memories,” he wrote. “The pharmacist was a great guy and gave us a chance to work, for a few dollars a week. In the early ’60s, this was enough money for a date, clothes from Bon-Ton or Lehmeyer’s. I remember the lady at the counter, she set me straight once or twice.”

From Todd Diehl, I heard, “One of my memories of going to Peoples Drug store was going to the snack bar to get a fountain cherry Coke. They were the best tasting soda you could get. They also had a large candy section. Maybe they were the first convenience store. They had almost everything you wanted in their store.”

Brother-in-law extraordinaire and lifelong Yorker Mike Smith told me he remembered stopping at Peoples for sodas after leaving the movies at the Strand or Capital.

And reader Rose Wise noted, “I remember Gibbs’ Peoples Drug Store very well. I worked downtown during the ’50s and ’60s, and it was a good lunch stop. The lady who made the sandwiches could remember all the orders without writing anything down. The waitresses would just yell out what they wanted, and she remembered everything. I used to order egg salad ‘on – with,’ which meant I wanted it on toast with lettuce and mayo. It cost 15 cents, and with a Pepsi for a nickel my lunch would be 20 cents. Great deal for a working gal who made about $25 a week.”

Another commenter, Julie, was recalling a Peoples not downtown but in Queensgate. She asked if anyone remembered the soda fountain area there. “You could sit at the seats and order a root beer float, etc.,” she wrote. “Also, do you remember the Pennsylvania Blue Law where sections of items for sale on Sunday were roped off (specifically at Peoples Drug Store)?”

Julie, I am wondering how many other people remember that as well! That was mostly a thing of the past by my childhood, but my mom has told me about the same in New Jersey, where she lived at the time! I’d certainly love to hear any local Blue Law memories.

Finally, I had a nice letter from reader Alvin Heindel, who said he found earlier columns online while searching for pictures of Peoples Drug, because he was wondering what happened to it. “It merged with CVS Pharmacies apparently and they don’t use the name Peoples Drug any more,” he noted.

Alvin continued, “I was born in York, Pa. in 1957 and we moved to College Park, Md. in 1961 where I still live. We lived on Bannister St. in York, Pa. before moving to Maryland in 1961. We used to go to Pennsylvania, occasionally, to visit my grandparents, cousins, uncles and other relatives. My mother’s father had a farm in York where my mother and her brothers grew up on, before going to college and getting married. We used to go to my grandfather’s farm now and then and I remember walking around it, going into the hen house, the barn, walking around the corn fields, etc. We used to shoot a 22 rifle and BB guns there, too. I always liked the long rides up and down the hills on old country roads while driving to and from Pa, too. I used to look out the car window and daydream a lot. My other grandparents (father’s parents) lived in Hanover, Pa., for as long as I can remember. They had a farm before that, but couldn’t make any money with it, so my grandfather became a school teacher and my grandmother worked in a sewing factory. My grandmother would always cook about the best meals we ever ate, during Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. I’ve walked around Hanover a lot, by myself, with family and relatives.”

Alvin, I’m so glad for those memories of Peoples Drug and beyond! Thanks to all who shared their thoughts today.

Have questions or memories to share? Ask (or Tell) Joan using the form at right. I’ll attempt to answer or share them in a future “Ask Joan” column on this blog. I get a large volume, but I will feature three each week and answer as many as possible!