News Article from The Signal-Item,
September 24, 1997

The old corner drug store thrives again-- at library

Sonja Brobeck
Staff Writer

Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound promised a baby in every bottle and soda jerks were going to school to get a degree in the fine art of making ice-cream treats.

Those longing for the days of yesteryear only have to make a trip to the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie.

A display, capturing the essence of the old corner drug store, is there for the curious and those wishing to reminisce. The display of 100 pharmacy artifacts are part of Stanton Jonas' private collection.

The collector, a retired pharmacist from Forest Hills, began his collecting back in the late 1960s. "Actually, I didn't start out collecting, it just happened." he says. "I decided that all the things I had gathered over the years were really a collection and I started from there."

Over the years, his collection has grown from a few pieces to more than 1,000. Many pieces were donated to him by pharmacists and others were found at flea markets and auctions.

An interesting part of the display revolves around the prohibition era. Alcohol was illegal, but there were ways to get around it. Doctors could freely hand out prescriptions for one-tenth pints of 100 proof Old Taylor Whiskey. Jonas' collection includes two such prescription certificates and an unopened bottle of the whiskey.

Another interesting piece is a certificate for attending the "Spotlight on You" training program for ice cream dispensing. The two-day course showed soda jerks the proper way to make sodas, banana splits, sundaes and flavored Cokes. After completing the course, a soda jerk would be able to make a product that looked good and tasted good. Quality control was also taught.

Jonas worked as a soda jerk for six months while he was studying at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy. From there he became an apprentice pharmacists at Hazelwood's Meszaros Pharmacy.

As his collection grows, his wife, Ruth, deals with it by closing the door to the rooms lined with boxes of his collection. "My house keeps shrinking, It's the incredible shrinking house," she teases. "His display keeps growing."

Although she teases him about his ever growing collection, Ruth supports it wholeheartedly. There seems to be a trade-off as the two are avid travelers. In the past few years, they have toured parts of the United States, Canada, Israel, England, France and Portugal.

The ever curious collector is constantly in search of new and unusual pharmacy items to add to his collection. He is always looking for a new place to display his passion. Individuals looking to donate a piece to his collection or have him set up a display should call him at 271-6670. The exhibit is available for display, at public venues, at no charge.

While in Carnegie, the "Old Corner Drugstore" display can be seen during regular library hours, until the end of December. The library is located at 300 Beechwood Avenue in Carnegie.

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