Column: A reflection on McKamey’s Village Pharmacy

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Commentary by Donna Monday

I’ve been here more than 40 years and as the saying goes, “I’ve seen ’em come and I’ve seen ’em go.”

Joe and Cheri McKamey owned McKamey’s Village Pharmacy on Main Street in Zionsville from 1975 to 1988. (Photo by Donna Monday)

That’s especially true of Main Street, where businesses have cycled through, year after year, decade after decade. Only one departure brought tears to my eyes. I cried when I heard that McKamey’s Village Pharmacy was closing. Life changed when Joe and Cheri McKamey left the coveted corner of Cedar and Main.

Anybody in this town who is 45 or older will remember McKamey’s. It was where we started our days. It was like something right out of the ’50s, a “Happy Days” come to life. McKamey’s carried everything.

Need a prescription? Check.

Want coffee, tea? Coke? Check.

Breakfast? Check.

Lunch? Ditto.

Toys? Film? Aspirin? Easter basket?

How about a post office? McKamey’s sold stamps before Walgreen’s even thought about it. A post office box sat on the pharmacy counter. You could leave your mail in the box and a carrier would pick it up.

Donna and Kenny Klinger worked the soda fountain. Years before Starbucks, Donna knew what we regulars wanted. For me, it was a morning Coke, sometimes with a splash of vanilla, sometimes with lemon. Donna would see me entering the back door, catch my eye and ask, “Lemon or vanilla?” That’s how my day began for years.

People packed the place every day. Everybody in a 5-mile radius wanted to start their day at McKamey’s.

Now residents of Florida, Joe and Cheri were in town not long ago, so I grabbed the chance to ask them about their memories. I especially wanted to know what they remembered best about the place.

“The camaraderie,” Joe said.

“(Patrons) were waiting for us to unlock the door,” Cheri said.

The lunch crowd all had their favorite places to sit among the booths and bar stools.

“By golly, you didn’t mess with that,” said Joe, adding that sometimes people would tell the offender that he or she was sitting in their seat.

Joe and Cheri owned the pharmacy from 1975 to 1988, when it was sold to Patricia and Harland Hotham, who operated McKamey’s until 2002. I’m glad I was here and I’m especially glad my children, who remember other local businesses like Sparkplug and Rainbow Video, were here. I’m glad they knew such a time and such a place and saw such camaraderie, to use Joe’s perfect word for hanging out with people you love in a place you’ll always remember.


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