Places We'll Never Forget In Our Hometown...Part Two
The 'Happy Days' Places in Clear Lake
during the 50s.

Thanks to Naila Clough Erwin
for this wonderful picture.

Just lQQk at that beautiful old building
that we took for granted in our youth.

The Corner Drug - cherry cokes!
Barb Moninger May (1959)
Everyone but me loved the Cherry Cokes--I liked Lime Cokes and always have one when I return home.  Do you remember the Muds and the Upside Down Sundaes?  The muds were served in a coke glass and the upside down sundaes had chocolate ice cream with marshmallow topping.  My dad always had my mom buy his ice cream at the Corner Drug where they packed it scoop by scoop into a container.
Mary Marshall (Gary Marshall- CLHS 1959)
(Send your memories of the Corner Drug and or the Lake Theater to)  to be posted immediately.
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This picture is of the current Corner Drug Store.  In our childhood days, it was The Clear Lake Bank & Trust Building and the Corner Drug Store was on Main Street.  About the time we were in late High School days, the bank built a new, larger building and the Corner Drug Store grabbed the chance to move into the old Bank Building and still keep the same name.  The current Corner Drug Store- in this picture- has kept the 1950/1960 air about it and when you walk through the door, it is like stepping back in time.  Naila Clough Erwin (1960)

The Corner Drug as we remember it (from the 50s and 60s) faded away (i.e., relocated one block away) some time in the 1970s.  If you're having trouble visualizing this, check the title page b/w to Clear Lake Remembered. The original Corner Drug is on the right with the vertical 'Drugs' sign. The new location is the light colored building, left background (behind the light pole in the foreground).

From the 1956 CLHS annual... this picture is described as
"Allan Yeager and Jim Sage as they enjoy an after school refresher at the CORNER DRUG.  Medical supplies for the whole family may be found here, also."
(Mary Jo Christensen is also in the picture.)

(Thanks to Lyndon Crist CLHS1962 for suggesting this picture)
At least it could still retain its name of 'corner' drug, but it's  just not the same. Perhaps the best pic. to clarify locations is the 1939 aerial photo on p. 61 of the red Clear lake book. The original store is on the right side adjacent to the first of the diagonally parked cars that are grouped together. The new location is one block straight back on the left side of Main. The Lake Theater is directly adjacent (to the left) and may be identified by the distinctive triangular flourish above the cornice. 
Lyndon Crist 1962
Thanks Julie and Naila, you have brought back some great memories of
Cherry Cokes, Milk shakes, and the pool hall downstairs.
Ken Tyner (CLHS 1959)
It's amazing what memories this picture brings back to me   ...and I do remember this specific occasion and picture so well.  Jim and I were discussing the appropriate pressure or better said in our vernacular ... the "squeezing" of a snowball for maximum projectile effect when thrown at passing cars.     Hummmm ... wait just a minute.  On further reflection, it may well have been the time we were trying to decide should we head towards the North Shore or the South Shore to look for "cottage party girls."  Hopefully from Des Moines ... 
Al Yeager- CLHS 1956

Thanks Charlie Zirbel for this picture.
This is where the new Corner Drug is located.
Thanks to Gary and Mary Marshall (1959) for this picture.
Some people have all the luck!  They grew up in Clear Lake, Iowa during the 40s and 50s.  Talk about your slice of Americana.  This community of 4,000 was a microcosm of small town USA.

For the teens, the focal point of this resort community was the Corner Drug.  It was all a teen could hope for!  It had a soda fountain, pharmacy, tobacco counter and it probably had anything else you or your parents might need.  Most of us never looked beyond the soda fountain.  There was nothing artificial or local about anything Nancy or Mary Jo served.  My favorites were cherry and lemon cokes, but chocolate and vanilla were also popular.  Some preferred a "Green River", but they were too sour for my taste.  If I felt flushed, I might have a malt, (you always got the extra in a small glass) soda, or sundae.  Most of the time I would ask Mary Jo or Nancy to dish up two scoops of orange sherbet topped with cashews- total cost fifteen cents.  From the counter stools you could see everybody that came into the store and be seen- that was always very important.  Privacy could be found in the wooden booths at the rear of the store.  There the carved initials were always a topic of discussion.  If you didn't spend all of your nickels at the soda fountain, the jukebox got the rest.  My favorites were "The Four Freshman", "The Four Lads", "The Diamonds" and "Bill Haley and the Comets".  I must have had a lot of nickels because I can still remember the lyrics to most of the songs!

I also have fond memories of the tobacco counter because of my uncle's Sunday requests.  Our family would get together for Sunday dinner and the checker games to follow.  At some point during the games, my uncle would send me to the only store open on Sunday afternoons, the Corner Drug.  He gave me a quarter to buy two Roi Tan Panetta cigars.  I got to keep the extra nickel.  Interestingly enough, I was never questioned about buying the cigars- such was the charm and innocence of the 50's.

As much as I enjoyed the drug store, the real treat for teenage boys was to be found in the basement.  There Floyd charged a nickel a stick to make like Minnesota Fats.  I should also mention for that nickel, Floyd would rack the balls.  You had to enter this pool hall from outside the drug store and that was important because of the iron railing guarding the steps.  Most of the time we just played "slop" but if we felt we were "on a roll", we would play snooker.  Floyd even had a table with no pockets (billiards) but that was reserved for the real players.  The only female I ever saw in the place was the Salvation Army lady who would appear daily at 4 o'clock to take up a collection.  We usually made it a point to hide in the bathrooms during her rounds.  With no more nickels and too many cherry cokes, we would climb the stairs to that iron railing and find a place to perch.  You've heard of "Standing On The Corner Watching All The Girls Go By".  Well, this was sitting on the corner doing the same thing!  Because Clear Lake is a resort town, passing girls were in no short supply.  The drug store drew them like a magnet and we had the "best seat in the house". 

What a wonderful world we had- soda fountain delights, five-cent pool games and plenty of girls to admire.  Unfortunately both the drug store and Floyd's are gone and by the way, so is the "best seat in the house".
Written by Larry W. Andersen (Andy)  CLHS 1957
for "Reminisce" magazine.
The following was written by Larry Andersen (CLHS 1957) for "Reminisce Magazine"
(The definition of 'Reminisce' according to the dictionary is "to look again at something in memory".)  Larry's story does that perfectly!  Thank you so much for sharing your
'walk down memory lane' with us all.  Thank you Larry!!
Last updated:
22 May, 2008
Mark Melcher (CLHS 1958)
I worked at the Corner Drug with Mary Jo and Nancy, and hung out there all the time, so I have many fond memories of the place.  But the one I still laugh about was one day in the summer between 8th grade and Freshman year, my Dad and Mom had sold our house on the Dead End Road on South Shore Drive along with a little house that Dad had built on the left just past the Silver Boot.  So we had no place to live that summer and moved into a little apartment above Halford's Cafe, down across from the Western Auto.  That meant I got to spend one of the best summers of my life running the streets of Clear Lake every day with Les Falk and Tommy McBee.  One morning, Falk and I were in the Corner Drug early waiting for Tommy so we could go do something really stupid, like ride our bikes to Mason City on #16, or kill frogs in the Outlet, or stand around the Ford and Chevy dealer, or play hide and seek in the alleys.  Anyway, Tommy came in and we told him we were each going to contribute 50 cents  to a "weight lifting" club.  We would buy weights and keep them in the basement of the hotel across the street, which Tommy's parents owned and where he lived.  Now 50 cents in those days was a lot of money.  I couldn't have scraped up 50 cents if my life had depended upon it.  But Tommy always had a little money because he would carry bags up to the rooms for people once in a while and get tips.  So he gave us 50 cents and went home to ask his mom if we could use the basement of the hotel. 

When he returned, Falk and I were drinking malted milks, at 25 cents apiece.  I was really a lousy thing to do to Tommy but for years Les and I used to laugh about it so hard we would have to lean on each other to keep from falling down.  And, of course, Tommy forgave us.  And I still love them both and cherish the memories of the fun we three had that summer.

Another story by Mark:  One more:  I was working one summer morning in the drug store and they had put up a big display in the middle of the floor as you came in the door with all different kinds of sun burn creams and tanning lotions.  I looked through the display and went to work.  A little while later this lady came in and asked for some Biodyne Ointment.  Well, I had seen it on the burn cream display, so I walked her over there and told her, "Here it is Ma'am."  And as I lifted the package up, I noticed that it said on the box, "Applicator inside."  So I, trying to be helpful, told her cheerfully that it had a "handy little applicator."  She look horrified and rushed out the door.  John Roseland came over and asked me what that was all about and I told him what happened.  Well, it turned out that Biodyne Ointment was indeed a burn cream but that the "handy little applicator" was intended for hemoroid treatment.  Love you all,  Mark Melcher (CLHS 1958)

Mark Melcher (CLHS 1958)
Nuh uh!!  It was the root beer floats!!  I have two things to say about the corner drug.  Besides being in the lake all day all summer long, I'd quit swimming long enough to go to the Corner Drug to see who all was there and get a root beer float. It was only four blocks away.  (The nuh uh was to everyone else's cherry and lime cokes. As a kid would say "nuh uh, my kind is better" as in root beer floats. I loved 'em. All the sodas and different flavored cokes and everything else were good, of course, but my root beer floats were the best, at A&W, too).  Sue MacDonald Holthaus (CLHS1960)
Corner Drug: My vote goes to Green Rivers and Vanilla Cokes but you have to add a bag of BBQ chips and definitely sit in a back booth!   We also had another Drug Store in the 50's that was across the street in the middle of the block-perhaps a Rexall?  They won the Green River contest hands down!  The soda fountain was on the right when you entered and had about 6 stools. 
Merlea Amundson Schultz '67