I first met Doc Curtis Robinson when I called on him at his drug store, Garfield Pharmacy, 2107 Alabama Avenue,SE,D.C.,as a salesman representing District Wholesale,52 O Street,N.W.,a corporation that supplied small and large drug stores,with pharmaceuticals,health and beauty aids,sundries, patent medicines etc. The time was mid 50′s and small pharmacies were abundant throughout the DC,Maryland, Virginia area.We became friendly,and I assisted him wherever possible.
In 1959, I resigned from District, and purchased my own drug store, Smith Pharmacy,2518 14th Street,N.W. With both of us busy, we lost track of each other. Doctor Martin Luther King’s assassination triggered the DC 68 riot,at which time my pharmacy was burned down. While Doc progressed to purchasing five additional drug stores, I went into the news stand-gift shop business.
The chain drug stores expanded while many small pharmacies were forced to close their doors.One day, I decided to research which pharmacies were still operating,and discovered a Robinson apothecary. Many years had passed,and I did not expect that this was the same Doc Robinson that was my customer ,a long time ago–I was mistaken. I recognized Doc’s voice rather quickly,he remembered me,and we decided to meet at his present drug store,a prescription pharmacy located in the basement of a residence,at 9th and East Capital Street.We met,discussing the many changes that had taken place in the industry,like computers,insurance with complicated regulations, ,escalated prescription prices etc. When I had called on Doc at Garfield Pharmacy,he mentioned to me that he had been in the Air Corps,but didn’t indicate that he was a member of the famous Tuskeegee Airmen.I had told him that I was a member of the field artillery,of the 42d Rainbow division,serving in France,Germany,and Austria.
I was well aware that the majority of afro american soldiers and sailors were segregated from the white troops,but couldn’t believe the harsh treatment by many white officers to black soldiers who risked their lives in combat to protect the U.S. against our enemies in World War II,and still treated as second class citizens..
PART TWO DOC ROBINSON”S FINAL JOURNEY WILL FOLLOW