TH Taste: Scoop on a 1912 Soda Fountain
By June Naylor
Easing onto one of the shiny spindle stools at the soda-fountain counter inside Highland Park Pharmacy, I fight the urge to tuck in my feet and elbows and twirl the seat around. When I frequented this hallowed treat-stop as a child with my grandfather, that was acceptable—even approved—behavior.
The memory is as vivid as those I have of the little red coat I loved to wear and the beribboned braid that hung down my back from neck to waist. Such impressions burn brightly for everyone, it seems. I’ve brought my mom along today, and as we settle into the familiar setting, I watch her slip into habits she developed when she visited the Dallas landmark as a girl in the 1930s and 1940s.
The long, narrow space is exactly as it’s always been, with a big mirror running the length of the soda fountain that spans the east wall of the room.
I ask Mom what she’s ordering for lunch. “Well, a chicken-salad sandwich,” she replies, looking a little like I must have lost my mind to even wonder. “On wheat, and grilled, of course.”
She’s in good company, as legions have made that choice a bestseller since H.S. Forman opened his pharmacy in 1912. Anchoring the corner of Knox and Travis streets in what’s called Old Highland Park, the brick facade, which is the color of yellowed newspaper, has changed not one bit.
Neither has much inside, for that matter. Pharmacy Manager Mary Duncan says the counter and black vinyl-topped stools are original; they’ve just been recovered through the years. “We even have one of the old cash registers on display,” she adds. “But it doesn’t work anymore.”
Pharmacists still fill prescriptions in the back, and you can still buy specialty health and beauty items, but it’s the delicious breakfast, lunch, pastries, and other desserts that bring the many customers who crave a taste of yesteryear, a hint of uncomplicated moments.
The real regulars are those who visit the pharmacy every day, says Duncan, who notes that some patrons eat meals here twice daily. Among the best customers is Norman Andres, who hires a taxi or driver to bring him daily for breakfast and then either for lunch or early supper. His favorite menu item? A pimiento-cheese sandwich called the Palm Beach.
“Everything they make here is good. And I like the atmosphere and the people,” says Andres, who first visited the pharmacy in 1948.
From the April 2009 issue.
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