Sunday, November 1, 2009

The "Y-D" ~ The Yreka Drug Store

Photo: Copyright, Claudia A. East

At the corner of Miner Street and Broadway sits the IOOF building, and for many years the Yreka Drug Store (Or, Y-D as it was lovingly called) operated at the street level of this building. Today it houses Bella Arts and their delightful "old time" ice cream fountain!

The Yreka Drug store used to have the full quintessential 1930-40ish fountain where businesspeople, kids, teens, and families would frequent to purchase that great sandwich, special ice cream treat, or fountain drink! Today only a portion of the old fountain remains much to the great sadness of many, but the memories of past days are very much alive!

It was in January, 1935 that the Siskiyou News announced that Merle Wood, the former manager of the Golden Eagle Drug store, would open a new store in the IOOF building, The Yreka Drug. The building was "completely" remodeled and modernized both inside and out with a "modernistic" (1935) front replacing the old simple brick front. There were two places of business occupying the downstairs at this time, the east side was an office for Dr. Albert Newton who practiced there from 1935 until 1952, and the west side was the Yreka Drug.  It is not clear how many times this building may have been remodeled or updated prior to 1935, as it was originally built in 1859. However, in 1935 the contractor for the job was a William Potter and he concentrated on the main portion of the ground floor. New shop windows were installed to permit better display of goods and a new entrance replaced the previous pillars on the Miner Street portion of the building. The new store carried all the "latest merchandise" and stocked drug sundries, toilet articles, stationery and prescription goods.

In the news articles from 1935 the "fountain" area was not discussed, so when the actual fountain was installed and began it is not yet clear to this author, but both as a child and adult I certainly remember having lunch at the counter or stopping by for a coke while shopping. Others remember the fountain during the 1940s, so we estimate that the fountain was installed during this remodel even though newspapers accounts did not report much of the interior renovations at the time.  Today a portion of the old fountain remains, but the memories of past days are very much alive.  During the 1950s, 60s and 70s this was “the” soda fountain in town!  Many a high school student stopped in for a cherry coke, fries, egg salad sandwich, or the once famous “pressed toast” that was a local favorite!  During the 1980s the Drug Store was sold to a Don and Sandra Murphy of Etna.  They did extensive renovation to the interior at that time.  They were also the owners of the once historic Scott Valley Drug Store in Etna.

            If you are a visitor to our fair town, be sure and stop in and visit Bella Arts and their charming soda fountain, you can get a tiny glimpse of what life in town was like from the 1940s and 50s by just walking into the building!  Don't forget, however to try one of their most delicious ice cream treats!

Copyright: Claudia A. East, 2009  
Updated:  2015