Asa Fabian’s Pharmacy
courtesy of Harold & Carol Mitchener
Images of America- Bristol
Prescription for a Perfect Town
by Cate Murway
Elixirs, potions, powders: the practice of pharmacy in the early 19th century still relied on centuries-old folk wisdom passed down from apothecary to apothecary. Pharmaceutical education began at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) in 1821, the first such institution in North America. A new era ushered in with the practice of pharmacy- the identification, selection, compounding and analysis of drugs – the foundation for future advances and discoveries.
According to Doron Green in his History of Bristol, 1911, there were 9 established drug stores in the borough.
Dr. Howard Pursell had his store at 200 Mill Street, the 60 + years location of Mignoni Jewelry and Gifts. This had also been the 2nd site of the Farmer’s National Bank after relocating from Hulmeville. John K. Young and Maurice Watson opened a pharmacy at 555 Bath Street next to Weigley’s Grocery Store in the late 1870’s. During WWI they moved to 559 Bath Street. Young had a special milkshake machine and the local newspapers highly praised the quality of his shakes. Watson’s son, “Jigger”, PCP ’14 who had taken over the store, died in 1942 and his wife continued to ran a patent medicine store. A pharmacist named Amadio bought the store and started a pharmacy again before he went to medical school in 1953. The Bath and Buckley location was then run by the excellent pharmacists, Vincent P. Vendetti, PCP ‘50 and Burt Barshay, American College of Apothecaries, VA, the Albert E. Rosica, Jr. Memorial Award Recipient of 1979. They both saw a viable business potential, as Levittown was just beginning. They were excited about servicing both Bristol and Levittown as well from that same location until 1955 when they purchased the Windsor Pharmacy, named after the telephone exchange. In 1958, after having been the manager for several years, Veteran of the U.S. Navy, Alan Joseph Vogenberg, Central H.S.’48 track athlete/Philadelphia College of Pharmacy ‘55 [now University of the Sciences] purchased the Bristol store and renamed it Alan’s Pharmacy. He then began his own journey toward innovation and discovery. The Vogenbergs, for a time, lived above their shoppe as so many storeowners did.
Vincent Vendetti was very astute and adept in business and was a mentor to Alan, who has served both as President of the PA Pharmacist Association and the Bucks County Pharmacist Association.
In the summer of 1956 or 1957, Bath Street, Otter Street and Bath Road were torn up all the way to Route 413 for excavation and pipe-laying.
Emil Erthel, on Mill Street, had a drug store in the Hoguet Building, near Cedar; Emlen [or Emelin] Martin Pharmacy was located at 213 Radcliffe Street. Martin, who died in 1922, sold his pharmacy to Charles Independence [born on the 4th of July!] Bowen. Bowen closed the pharmacy and opened a restaurant on East Farragut Avenue near Green Lane. Francis O’Boyle bought the restaurant in 1946 and opened an ice cream factory on the site. Asa Fabian’s Pharmacy opened in 1909 in the 1833 Single Dwelling/ Office architecturally “Federal” styled building.
A gentleman named Begley who had worked for Fabian purchased this business. Begley sold it to Norman Shull [wife, Betty] and then ultimately, his son, Jeff Shull, ran the pharmacy. This drug store that also served malted milk, ice cream sundaes and soda at one time, on the corner of Mulberry and Radcliffe Streets, was listed as the last privately owned pharmacy in Bristol when it closed in 1998. The Fabian Pharmacy location is now “Great I.D.’s by Anne”. David Byron Cunningham officially opened his privately owned Mill Street Pharmacy on December 11, 2006. Serrill Douglass owned a Drug Store on the southeast corner of Dorrance & Wood Street The Harry H. Headley Pharmacy, northwest corner of 301 Washington and Wood Streets later became DiLorenzo’s Pharmacy and is now an apartment building. John B. Spencer Pharmacy commanded the northwest corner of Jefferson and Pond Streets.
Commercial shops and stores were interspersed in the neighborhoods.
There were 8 pharmacies when Alan Vogenberg left the borough in 1970. Everyone made a living. Almost all of the pharmacists were men. 65% of the graduating classes are now women.
In 1970, Alan’s Pharmacy was closed and he merged with Windsor Pharmacy, once again working with Vince. The Bath & Buckley building was torn down after being converted into apartments and it’s now a single vacant “pocket park”.
Alan is no longer involved in community practice. He teaches in the Bristol Township School District; is a consultant for MediCom Worldwide, Inc, Continuing Medical Educational Services in an historic building in Morrisville; teaches pharmacy technicians at BCCC; provides interesting tour guide services for the BCHF and is an amazing docent at the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Museum. His son, Randy F., a Ph.D. pharmacist of PharmacoEconomics, lives in Sharon, MA.
The late Army T-4 Sergeant Isadore Brosbe, an American Jewish WWII Veteran, PCP ’36, remembers 6 pharmacies, especially Spencer's Drug Store on Jefferson Avenue and Pond Streets. Currently a NJ resident, he has been a practicing pharmacist for 61 years. In 1948, he purchased the 310 Mill Street location and then moved to 327 Mill Street, professionally servicing his customers for 38 or 39 years until he sold his business at the age of 72. Isadore Brosbe had been working 80 hours a week! This was before Levittown and Fairless Hills had been developed. The A&P and Acme were still Bristol upon the Delaware food stores. The Commerce Park on Route 13 was still a golf course.
There were no prescription plans. The average prescription cost $1.00 and Colgate Toothpaste cost $.69! He sold drugs, cosmetics [this was also before Neshaminy Mall], hernia belts and he provided a soda fountain and small luncheonette for about 1½ years.
Mill Street was beyond doubt a very friendly street. All the merchants cooperated with each other and actually got along. When they ran out of a product, another retail owner would loan them some more. Isadore recalls that he shared and traded products for a 2-year period one time and when they settled up, he was only owed $1.00 or $2.00.
The pedestrian shoppers came to buy, not just to look!
One of his customers, Senator Joseph Ridgway Grundy, proprietor of the Bristol Worsted Mills, would come in for eyewash.
All the Mill Street stores were opened every night and just as the other merchants, the Brosbe family lived above the store.
Other drug store businesses were the United Cut Rate Pharmacy and the Edward T. Finigan’s Pharmacy in Harriman. The late Liberio Lodato, an officer in the Italian army, maintained a pharmacy on Pond and Lafayette. His wife, Maria was also a pharmacist.
Another drug store/ physician office belonged to Dr. Nicola Rubertone on 312 Lincoln Avenue. In 1929, Rubertone’s widow, Rosina was operating the store.
The origin of the word "pharmacy" is generally ascribed to the Greek pharmakon ("remedy"). The most notable change in pharmacy in current times has been the virtual disappearance of the preparation and compounding of [“remedies”] medicines. The role and the dignity of the pharmacist are strengthened, as the scientific education of pharmacists has steadily become more demanding.
Employment of pharmacists is expected to grow by 22 percent between the decade of 2006 and 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing numbers of middle-aged and elderly people, who use more prescription drugs than the younger population, will continue to spur demand for pharmacists.
We still have more room in Bristol upon the Delaware!
The 1889 Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Philadelphia, PA graduating class
in front of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy building at 145 N Tenth Street.
The college stood on Tenth Street from 1868 until its move to West Philadelphia in 1928.
from FACEBOOK Old Images of Philadelphia
Old Images of Bucks County, PA
Cate -- back in the mid to late 70s my Dad owned a pharmacy is Bristol. It was called Dilorenzo's at Wood and Washington Street. I used to spend a lot of time there and knew the town well back then taking deliveries, etc. I love your postings about Bristol and especially the photos. It still hold a special place in my heart.
We did not live there; only the business was. My Dad was Richard (Rick) Katz. He bought the business from Mr. DiLorenzo when he retired.
I usually worked with my Dad during the entire summer and during Saturdays while in law school.
I loved Mill Street. In fact, when Coleen and I were dating we used to go up to Bristol on a nice summer or spring day, wonder around Mill Street and the bandstand near the water..We adored [King Henry's Inn] King George II.
And I am an ice cream lover. I forget its name but in the Township on Rt 13 there was a diner [O'Boyles] that made the largest Sundies. Loved that place.
And the people were nice. It was a corner neighborhood pharmacy and the customers were so nice.
One last thought then dinner. An old black doctor, Dr. [Ewart George] McGruder, used our pharmacy exclusively. A very nice man. Older black doctors were uncommon back then. He must have been brilliant. Larry Katz, Esq.
Posted: September 23, 1993
BETTY J. BELT SHULL FLACK, 69; OWNED A PHARMACY
Betty J. Belt Shull Flack, 69, of Bristol Township, a retired pharmacy owner and homemaker who was active in community and church affairs, died last Thursday at her home in Bristol Township after an 11-month battle against cancer.
Mrs. Flack was born and educated in Granville, Ohio, and moved to Bristol in 1944, when she married Norman H. Shull, a pharmacist. They owned and operated Fabian's Pharmacy in Bristol Borough from 1948 until Mr. Shull's death in 1968. She continued to operate the pharmacy until her retirement in 1987, when she sold the business to a son, Jeffrey Shull.
Mrs. Flack had served as a board member of the Grundy Foundation Ice Skating Rink in Bristol Borough and was a volunteer at the Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol Township. She was a member of Morning Star Chapter 395 of the Order of the Eastern Star for nearly 50 years.
Mrs. Flack was a member of St. James Episcopal Church in Bristol Borough, where she had served as financial secretary, a member of the vestry and had served on the altar guild. She also was a past president of the Women of St. James.
Mrs. Flack also was involved in the Mother's Guild Quilting Group and participated in many quilt exhibits for Historic Bristol Day.
"(She) died as she lived, a friend to many and loved by and an inspiration to all," said her husband of 22 years, Herbert L. Flack, also a pharmacist. ''She will be greatly missed."
In addition to her husband and son Jeffrey, Mrs. Flack is survived by a daughter, Beverly S. Cimino; four other sons, Norman C., Mark, Christopher and Gerald Shull; a stepdaughter, Helen F. Johnson; a stepson, James Flack; 18 grandchildren, and a sister.
A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at St. James Episcopal Church, 225 Walnut St., Bristol, preceded by an Eastern Star service at 6:40 p.m. Burial was private.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. James Episcopal Church, 225 Walnut St., Bristol, Pa. 19067, to benefit the Memorial Fund.
Arrangements were made by the Molden Funeral Chapel in Bristol Borough.
Christopher N. Shull died Saturday, October 25, 2014, at his home. He was 61.
Chris was born in Trenton, grew up and lived in Bristol most of his life.
He graduated from Bristol High School in 1971, then enrolled and graduated
from the Culinary Institute of America.
He served in the U.S. Navy for over eight years,
which included serving during Desert Storm action.
He was currently working as a Veterans Employment Representative
of the PA Department of Labor for 15 years.
He loved cooking, gardening and traveling with his wife.
He was member of the Robert W. Bracken Post No. 382.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Norma H. Shull and Betty J. (Shull) Flack, and a sister, Beverly Cimino.
Surviving Chris are his beloved wife of 18 years, Cathy A. (Hems) Shull; two children, Christopher Eric Shull and Amy True Weber; and two grandchildren, Solace Burkhimer and Jackie Burkhimer. He is also survived by his brothers, N. Craig Shull and wife, Mary Lou, Mark C. Shull and wife, Linda, Jeffery C. Shull and wife, Terry, Gerry C. Shull and wife, Carol; a step-brother, James Flack, a step-sister, Helen Johnson; mother-in-law, Irene A. Hems; and his rescue dog, Sgt. Iggy.
A funeral service for family and friends will be held at the Carter Funeral Home, 314 Cedar Street, Bristol, PA 19007, on Friday, Oct. 31, at 10 a.m. A viewing on Thursday evening will begin at 7 p.m. Interment will be in Washington Crossing National Cemetery. Carter Funeral Home Bristol
Mary Ida Weakley Reitz provided the bottle pix
"Cate, I just read your pharmacy article, and saw the mention of Dr. Eward McGruder. He was our family doctor from the time I was born. He was black, but all of his patients seemed to be white. His patients would start arriving an hour before he opened. I remember that the chairs in the waiting room circled the room, and they would all be occupied long before he arrived. He also made house calls; he arrived at our house in pajamas in the middle of the night on at least one occasion.
He was a wonderful doctor, and man."