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From the 1930s through the ’40s and a few years beyond, DeLand was serviced by a number of privately owned drugstores (today we might call them pharmacies).

Among these were Touchton Drug Co., Volusia Pharmacy, Courthouse Pharmacy, Allen Drug Co. (the oldest in West Volusia), and Orange Belt Pharmacy.

Each company was staffed by a registered pharmacist. The duties of the pharmacist were somewhat different from those of today. They were truly what we now refer to as “compounding pharmacists.”

The physician’s prescription would state what medications were to be included in the cough medicine, the capsules, and other medications.

I watched with interest when my dad filled a prescription calling for certain medications to be included in a suppository.

The medication was mixed using a mortar and pestle in accordance with the physician’s instructions and placed in a suppository press.

Pressure was applied, and out came these little bullets ready to do the job.

While competition existed among these companies, cooperation was paramount.

If one pharmacist was unable to fill a prescription due to the lack of the needed medications, he could readily borrow from a competitor.

This cooperation was highlighted when tragedy struck Touchton Drug Co. An explosion and fire caused by a gas leak injured several and resulted in the death of one of their pharmacists.

During the interim required to make the needed repairs, other pharmacies together handled Touchton’s refill prescriptions, thereby preserving Touchton’s book of business.

From the beginning, an integral part of my father’s drugstore was the franchise for representing the Orange Belt Bus Line, from which the drugstore got its name: Orange Belt Pharmacy.

Orange Belt Lines was formed in 1926, and the bus company’s home base was in Orlando. It provided service to Sanford, DeLand, Daytona Beach, Palatka and other communities.

The drugstore provided a rest stop for the passengers and a revenue source through ticket sales and the bus riders’ purchases from the soda fountain.

Public transportation was lacking in those days. There was one northbound and one southbound train daily, but that offered no local service.

This was provided by the bus company. The Orange Belt Line flourished and was soon merged into Florida Motor Lines. Service was greatly improved; now there were two round trips daily to Daytona Beach or to Orlando, for a cost of $1.50 and $1.75 respectively.

The service also included daily trips to Jacksonville, with connections to other cities throughout the nation.

Orange Belt Pharmacy continued to represent Florida Motor Lines, and the increase in bus business necessitated a change of venue. The drugstore was moved to the corner of Rich Avenue and Woodland Boulevard to accommodate the increased frequency and the size of the equipment used.

The curbing was removed on the Rich Avenue side to improve access for passengers and baggage. The drugstore continued to benefit through more frequent rest stops (15 minutes) and lunch stops (30 minutes), as there were no restroom facilities on the buses then.

Soon after the beginning of World War ll, Florida Motor Lines was purchased by Florida Greyhound Lines, and again service and equipment improved.

Bus travel became a necessity. Gasoline rationing made a trip to Daytona Beach or Orlando by auto costly in one important way:With an “A” ration sticker on your windshield, a round trip to either of these destinations would use up much of your monthly allocation.

The bus station portion of the drugstore had grown, and required a move to a separate facility. A building at the southeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and The Boulevard was acquired and converted, with a larger ticket counter, waiting rooms with restroom facilities, and an adjoining restaurant.

A ritual frequently occurred when moms, dads, wives and girlfriends met at the bus station to wave goodbye to their loved ones who were to make the fateful trip to Camp Blanding courtesy of our local draft board.

With the end of World War ll came the end of gas rationing, the expansion and improvement of rail service and — most of all — the advent of airline transportation.

All of this contributed to the rapid decline in the need for bus travel. Within a few years, the existing interstate bus systems all but disappeared from DeLand.

— Heard is the retired owner of Dick Heard Insurance and Real Estate Inc. He has been married 69 years to the former Jean Alexander, and they have one daughter and two sons. Dick Heard’s civic involvement included serving as chairman of the West Volusia Hospital Authority, president of the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce, president of the West Volusia Board of Realtors, and a director of First Community Bank. Send email to richardheard51@gmail.com.


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