My Brother Phil’s Drug Stores (Continued)

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Phil maintained a practice in his pharmacies that I’ve never seen in other pharmacies: He maintained a small notebook on the premises, labeled, “The Bible,”  in which he instructed his employees to record suggestions or complaints on anything related to the drugstore’s operation.  This even included complaints against fellow employees. In another notebook, labeled “Blues,”  employees could record promotional items sold, that entitled them to a commission from  management.  The cost price of some specialty merchandise like gifts was coded from the words-TRULY SPEAK-T for 1, R for 2, U for 3 L for 4 etc. In some cases a clerk could lower the selling price.

When I was discharged from the military and returned home in 1946, I was surprised to hear that Phil had purchased two more pharmacies. He asked if I would assist him with some of the administrative tasks, like paying bills, preparing payrolls, and maintaining records.  I accepted the job, working, part-time with Phil in his main office and attending George Washington University the rest of the time. In 1946 there was a shortage of pharmacists, because few students had graduated in this field during World War II.  When my  brother learned that more pharmacists were seeking employment in Philadelphia than in D.C., he placed a newspaper ad in that city, advertising for pharmacists to work in Washington, D.C. at a weekly salary of $100.00, an amount that probably exceeded the market wages for that profession in the “City of Brotherly Love.”  Through this ad, Doc Phil hired three pharmacists, all of whom performed to his satisfaction.  As  time progressed, however, all three of these “Docs” purchased their own drug stores.

When Phil experienced some legal disagreements with his landlord of Standard Pharmacy,7 th and S Street,N.W., he purchased an empty lot across the street with the intention of  erecting a new building there, to house his drugstore and liquor department. His contractor completed the construction of the new structure, but when it came time to move, he was informed by a  DC licensing agency that, for some reason, he could move the liquor department but not the drug store. Since Phil was always addressed as “Doc,” he named the new liquor store “DOX.”  The big move resulted in “DOX” becoming a successful business. During its grand opening , “Doc” arranged to have the famous former world boxing champion, Joe Louis, present, which attracted many, many customers.

Doc Phil had opened Standard Pharmacy, 7th and S Street, N.W. in 1934.

Finally, Phil decided that the time had arrived for him to take it easy. First, he sold Economy and Boyd pharmacies, and later, DOX LIQUOR.  Reverend Martin Luther King’s sudden assassination on April 4, 1968, triggered the DC ’68 riot, at which time “DOX” Liquor was burned down.

Doc Phil had already passed away. His widow, Lillian, had the task of dealing with an insurance company to settle the loss of  a still nearly new building that was the former home of “DOX” Liquor.

I recently drove by the former location of “DOX” liquor. The sole occupant on that space is a Metro train station.  Things change




in Philadelphia

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