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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Drugstores in Early Gig Harbor



Have you ever gotten frustrated when trying to put a puzzle together and found that not only were several pieces missing, but even some of the pieces you had didn’t fit nicely into the picture?  If so, you will understand some of the difficulties I found in today’s puzzle on the drugstores in early Gig Harbor.

In the earliest days the local doctors were the ones dispensing drugs, rather than people running to the nearest pharmacies to pick up their medications and related health needs.  The first mention of a drugstore in Gig Harbor that I found was one run by Dr. G. F. Messer in the Polk Directory for Pierce County 1911-1912.  Total population at that time in the Gig Harbor Peninsula was a whopping 50 people.  (Carrie M. Wroten was our postmistress and H. O. Wroten was the town barber.)


By 1922, there was a drugstore in Mrs. Theresa Sweeney’s new multi-commercial building but who was the pharmacist or owner?  According to this picture, it was Allen's Gig Harbor Pharmacy. Did this drugstore decide to move to the new commercial business section of town, when the ferry landing moved to the mouth of the harbor?  When the Gillich-Richardson building (Peninsula Hotel) was completed in 1925/1926, Mr. A. E. Allen opened a drugstore in it.
Mrs. Sweeney's Multi-business Building

In March, 1926, Mr. Harry Tichacek, a member of the Board of Directors of the First National Bank of Gig Harbor, purchased Mr. Allen’s drugstore.  Lee Thrash recalls his first venture into business “was the purchase of one half interest in the Gig Harbor Pharmacy from Mr. Harry Tichacek on August 15th, 1927.”

Unfortunately, according to The Peninsula Gateway’s January 31, 1930 issue,  “One evening last week Federal officials raided the Gig Harbor Pharmacy for booze, the outcome of the raid being the arrest of Harry Tichacek and Lee Thrash, who are now under $1,000 bail each.  Tichacek being held for Federal Grand Jury investigation.  They are charged with possession and sale of liquor and with conducting a public nuisance.”  

The Peninsula Gateway goes on to state in an additional entry in the same January 30, 1930 issue that “On Friday of last week the resignation of Harry Tichacek as one of the directors of the First National Bank was accepted by Mr. (Carl) Nielsen, the president of the bank.  The management of the First National Bank is in the hands of competent, reliable men who have been trained in the business, and who have the best interests of the banks patrons and the public at heart.  The readjustment of things is simply in line with the conservative policy which the bank has followed from the beginning.” *
First National Bank of Gig Harbor

By July, 1931 Thrash was able to purchase Tichacek’s remaining one half interest in the drugstore.  He maintained and operated the drugstore known as “The Rexall Store” in the Gillich-Richardson building until 1949.  During that time, Prohibition ended 1934 and Thrash was allowed to sell alcoholic beverages until the State of Washington took over distribution of liquor.  When that happened, Thrash became an agent for retailing liquor in the Town of Gig Harbor.

In 1943, Dr. Arthur S. Monzingo died and Thrash was asked by the community to became their doctor and pharmacist.  He held this position until after WWII when Dr. Warren Wright Bacon started a family practice in Gig Harbor.  Dr. Bacon died age 84 on October 30, 1991 in Edmonds, WA.

In 1949, Thrash partnered with Keith Uddenberg and they built their own building at 3226 Harborview Drive, now owned and occupied by El Puebilto Mexican Restaurant & Cantina as well as other tenants.  One commentary says it had a  bowling alley; another said it was as large as a bowling alley which it became later.
Uddenbery & Thrash Building at 3226 Harborview Drive

Eventually the Gig Harbor Rexall Pharmacy and Drugstore was operated by Lee’s daughter and her husband, Ken Tallman.  Thrash again partnered with Uddenberg in the construction of  the Peninsula Shopping Center on Judson Street.  The drugstore once again moved to the next location  where it remained until 2011 when Tallman sold the business to Walgreens, following a national trend of  independent pharmacies closing because they were unable to compete with chain stores.

NOTES:
* The First National Bank of Gig Harbor was chartered in 1927; it was force liquidation in 1930, paying off 85% of obligations.
*The Peninsula Gateway, January 31, 1930
*Seattle Times, November 11, 1991
*Letter from Lee Thrash to Barbara Pearson

Population:  
  • 1911/12 50 
  • 1950 803
  • 1970 1,657
  • 1980 2,429
  • 2013 7,798

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