It’s stories like these that are true historical treasures of our community. Rarely recorded, they are usually lost when the eyewitnesses to history pass on.
Thank you, Mr. Jones for sharing this with us. I’d encourage anyone else with interesting stories or anecdotes to do the same. DH
DECEMBER 7, 1941
I had been a “soda jerk” and cashier at the drug counter at Harper’s Drugs since I was 12 in 1939. In the fall of 1941, Mr. Harper and his son had a discussion and called me over. Bill Harper said the bandages and adhesive tape boxes really looked “shop worn” and, although still sterile, they were several years old. They asked me if I would put in extra hours and replace everything over a year old. I was enthused; my wages were 15 cents per hour and my savings were growing “slowly”. I stocked the shelves with all fresh merchandise—bandages, tapes, iodine, mercurochrome, Ungentine and all those 1940’s medicine cabinet standards. I boxed up all the replaced items and took them downstairs.
On December 7th, Sunday afternoon, my buddies and I gathered at Saratoga Lanes in Maplewood. We were all “part-time” pin setters and our “boss” allowed us to use the pool tables on Sunday. He had the radio on and called us over. (We thought he had found out about our leaving one pin out for the bowling teams that never gave us a tip so they only bowled “splits”!) He turned up the radio and found our lives were forever changed. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and our country was at war.
What could a room of fourteen-year-olds do to help? Eddie Heidbrier said, “We are all Boy Scouts. We have been taught First Aid and are ready. We can help.” I remembered those boxes of bandages, adhesive tape and boxed meds at Harper Drugs. I called Mr. Harper at home and I said, “Our Boy Scouts need these supplies.” (He was pleased to clean them out of the basement!) Warren Couch, Wayne Frisinger, Bobby Garrett, John Hardy and I all trooped down to Harper Drugs and carried all the boxes to Maplewood Baptist Church. (In 1941, nobody’s doors were locked and we took our stock to the church basement.) We found empty shelves and organized our stock. Our Pastor arrived and I told him what we were doing. He laughed and said we were okay.
John Boone (Hardy) said, “Pastor, when those Japs attack Maplewood, we will be ready for them!”
Billy Jones, Boy Scout
- Maplewood History: In memory of Alice Harper, a short history of Harper’s Pharmacy
- Maplewood History: The Spectacular Cabinetry of the Harper’s Pharmacy
- Maplewood History: The Endangered Cabinetry of Harper’s Pharmacy
- Maplewood History: Still on the Subject, the Magnificent Cabinetry of Harper’s Pharmacy
- Harper’s Pharmacy cabinets made in Grand Rapids