|Photo of Map in Wall Drug Store Brochure|
[I hope you can enlarge it.
It is like touring a maze.]
This 2-part post is two small cities with different stories to tell of their existence in South Dakota: Deadwood and Wall, SD. (Which reminds me, I added the Dickens' book and his complete works to my Kindle (99 cents) as some of the classics's precepts remind me of the current uprisings of today in US and around the world.)
|(I made photo of picture in brochure)|
One city is Wall, South Dakota. Wall, SD,only a speck on the map, became famous by the idea of a pharmacist's wife, Dorothy Hustead, who simply tried to help her husband keep the doors open of a very small pharmacy, Wall Drug Store, population 326 'poor people' in a very small town in 1931 during the Great Depression. Its citizens and surrounding area were near destitute from drought or the Great Depression.
The setting: In or near winter, 1931, a pharmacist, Ted Hustead (with wife, Dorothy), bought a small pharmacy in Wall. He had worked for other employers for two years, and lived in Canova, SD. Then his father died leaving him an inheritance of $3000, which was a lot of money in 1931.
When he embarked on hunting a place to make a living, Dorothy had one criteria--there must be a Catholic church nearby for daily attendance, Ted preferred a small town. They toured Nebraska and South Dakota in a Model T. Personally, I might add, almost every pharmacist, more commonly called druggists in those times, dreamed of owning their own store. [I am glad my dream was unrealized. My life has led me in so many diverse directions I would not trade it, for being chained to a demanding regimen required to operate any successful entrepreneur endeavor, chained to ever increasing federal and state regulations.]
|Wall Drug Store Scene Backyard of Horse-Drawn|
Western Wagon Railroad Station
After devout prayer by all their families, they forged ahead with their plans to set their fate in Wall. Dorothy chose to forfeit her talents as a teacher in literature, to work in the drugstore that seem doomed to failure. Ted taught himself veterinary medicine, increasing his area of expertise to fit the area's unique needs. They lived in a make-shift apartment created in the back of the store.
|Wall Drug Store Backyard -White Object|
in Background is Huge Jack Rabbit with Saddle.
A One-Ton Petrified Log Is Visible at Left.
*See footnote at end of post.
On a hot July day, Dorothy was unable to nap with the children because of traffic noise outside. She returned to the store front and with a single sentence that changed their world said: "I think I finally saw how we can get all those travelers to come to our store."
|One Ton Petrified Log|
There Was a Petrified Area of Wood Somewhere
But Was Not On Our Tour Agenda
(Photo by Husband)
With some skepticism it is said, Ted and a high school boy made and posted homemade signs. Before all the signs were posted, thirsty, dust-covered people began to stop for the free ice water.
Before the day was over Ted was chipping more ice off the ice blocks, and travelers were even buying other items like ice cream cones.
(Photo by Husband)
As any spunky wife would do, whose idea had been somewhat dismissed, said, " I guess the ice water signs worked."
Quite an understatement! especially during the Great Depression in a 'God-forsaken, 'middle of nowhere' little town named Wall with 'flat broke busted' citizenry.
The next summer eight girls were hired to handle the summer touring season.
Today, Wall Drug is a complex, similar to a mall, with many shops, some catering to souvenirs for tourists, various food shops, and a Back Yard Mall addition. It is a medley of tourist knick-knacks, several eateries, artisans, history, artist and various craftsmen galleries, historical relics and quite a lot of humor and a small pharmacy that really filled prescriptions. There was supposedly a pharmacy museum, but like so many of our stops we did not really get to see all we wanted to see.
|Wall Drug Store Totem Pole|
(Huge *Jack Rabbit on the
Back of Pole -I don't know
significance. See footnote at
end of post)
Ted and Dorothy died in 1999 and 1996, respectively. Their son Bill assumed management along with his wife Marjorie. Bill died of Lou Gehrig's disease. Marjorie and their sons, Rick and Ted plus their wives are still active in operations. The sons, (grandsons of Ted and Dorothy) are Chairman and President of the Board.
Ted and Dorothy would be both humbled and proud!!
The sign idea grew, much like the Burma Shave signs; Wall Drug Store signs, a la Burma Shave signs, with mileage to the store have been seen in other countries including Germany. The original jingle read: 'Get a soda...Get root beer....Turn next corner...Just as near...To Highway 16 & 14.. Free Ice Water...Wall Drug.' [Links provided are Wall Drug's own web site and Wikipedia, both well worth checking out!]
Free coffee and donuts are offered even today to veterans, military personnel en route to their assignments, honeymooners, and other special groups. One cafe alone seats 530. On a very good summer day 20,000 people pass through Wall Drug Store's door.
I visited the pharmacy which is only a very small portion of the complex . I chatted with a FEMALE pharmacist, which fits in the not too subtle theme of this post: the POWER and INFLUENCE OF WOMEN.
All pharmacists who stopped by the pharmacy sign a register and the school or university of their training, as did I. (My graduating class at UT-Austin in 1960 contained only 5 women; someday I may write a post on the discrimination and sometimes humiliation women pharmacists suffered in the workplace.)
|Wall Drug Store Statue|
Tribute to the
And the signs multiplied faster than rabbits or possums reproduce, or flies and ants invade an outdoor picnic!
Wall is one of several gateways to the Badlands and within driving distance of Rapid City, and several cities with appeal to travelers/tourists. Fortuitously, it is just an exit off the heavily traveled I-90, the first East-West completed Interstate.
Wall derives it name from the fact it is build on the edge of the northern extension of the "Badlands wall."
NOTE: This history post is based on Internet reading and the brochure handed to our tour. A part of the brochure history contained excerpts from Guideposts Associates, Inc. Carmel, NY.
All Photos by NitWit1 unless otherwise identified.
Hint to PART 2: The other city is Deadwood, South Dakota; its woman of note is commonly known as Calamity Jane. While Dorothy Hustead might be universally viewed as an inspirational, devoted wife with a common sense idea that grew wings, Calamity Jane defies defining with positive adjectives, yet in some moments of her larger than life biography, she too inspired some groups of people.
|Rabbit Spotted on grounds of Chapel in the Hills|
(SOOC-Straight Out OF Camera)
Texas has jack rabbits, a very large wild rabbit with seemingly out of proportion huge ears, but despite all Texan bragging, the state does not have a monopoly on the species which is a desert animal.
I saw no jack rabbits in our short drive through the Badlands, Custer State Park, or other tours where wildlife was present. I saw a small wild rabbit at the Chapel in the Hills, cute but not a jack rabbit.