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Sorry Jan, It’s back to Ohio time.  After all, March is Ohio month.  The Buckeye State joined the Union on March 1, 1803.

It’s funny how things come back to you from time to time.  I never drink a Cherry Coke without thinking of Hacker’s Pharmacy in Germantown.

My memories of Hacker’s are Cherry Cokes, Sloppy Joe Sandwiches, the ladies behind the counter with unmovable hair, greeting cards, books, magazines, and Mr. Hacker’s kind smile.

It was the drug store.  And the soda shop.  And the news stand.

It was just there.  All my growing UP years.  I passed it every day on the way home from school.  I usually stopped, had a coke, talked, met friends, leafed through a magazine or two, and headed out.

We took it for granted.

But, it was a large part of the fabric that made UP the crazy quilt that is Germantown, Ohio.

photo courtesy of my Senior Yearbook!

photo courtesy of my Senior Yearbook!

As kids, Mr. Hacker was the pharmacist.  He was always behind the glass, waving to us when we came in, a giant smile on his face that more than likely hid the thought of here come the kids again…I hope they don’t steal….or hang out too long…or cause trouble.

If he did think that, he never said it.  I don’t remember him saying much other than “hello” or “how’s your Mom and Dad?” or maybe “you better get going, supper will be ready soon”.

Who knew, I was a dwaddler?

He seemed a quiet man.  I guess that because Mrs. Phelps (I do not remember which one) and the other ladies did most of the talking.  And cooking, and serving, and watching, and making sure we stayed out of trouble.

Mr. Hacker passed on this last December, and even though the Pharmacy closed years ago, Germantown lost another piece of its history.  Really, less than a month before, Jack Kellis died.  Seems like ever day a part of my childhood disappears.

I didn’t know all that much about Mr. Hacker, like I said, he was the pharmacist.  We revered him, he was educated, helped us get the medicine we needed when we were sick, and served UP the best Cherry Cokes EVER!

And, since there was a big empty spot in my brain concerning him, I asked his son Ric, or Eric to fill me in.

There was a whole lot more to Mr. Hacker than Cherry Cokes and good Sloppy Joes.

He was born on July 30, 1926 in Stockdale Ohio. growing UP in the Elmwood section of Cincinnati where his dad, Levi worked for many years in what was know as the “Ivorydale” section of Proctor and Gamble.

Mr. Hacker graduated from Hartwell High School in 1943 and immediately joined the Navy. Since he was only 17, his dad had to go down to the recruiting office and give consent for him to join (Ric said,”this caused Grandpa all kinds of pain and agony with Grandma, I might add.”)

As a teenager, he worked for a local pharmacy in Cincinnati where was a soda jerk and clerk. While working there, he developed a lifelong interest in pharmacy. Probably because of this interest his aptitude tested toward the medical fields. As a result, he became a Naval medic, and spent the last year’s of WWII on a destroyer somewhere in the Pacific and his last months in China. He was finally discharged in 1946 and immediately came back to Cincinnati.

After the war, he attended The Ohio State University for one year then came back to Cincinnati and attended and graduated from the University of Cincinnati School of Pharmacy in 1953. While working and attending college, he met a young lady named Onalee Reser and promptly fell in love. They were married in 1948. (Ric was born in 1949 and was followed by 2 brothers and 2 sisters over the next 15 years. – Sorry, I remember John and Sam, but had no idea they had sisters…must be younger then I am!)

His pharmacy career started at Hare Pharmacy in Hamilton Ohio in 1953. While working at Hare’s,  a McKesson Pharmaceutical representative told him that a store was for sale in Germantown Ohio (which, by the way, he had never heard of.) He and his dad went to see the property, he was immediately excited and, in 1956, bought the store from Irwin Emrick.

Located at 36 North Main Street, the store was known as “The Family Store” and was basically an apothecary with a soda fountain. Sometime in 1956, it opened  as “Hacker’s Germantown Pharmacy.”

For the first year, he drove from his home on State Route 747 in Cincinnati to Germantown and back 7 days a week while closing only on Christmas, New Year’s and Easter. In addition, at the beginning, he was the only pharmacist working and, therefore, had no days off. This went on for several years even after he moved his family to West Gunckel Street.

The big draw to the pharmacy, at least for younger folks, was the soda fountain. He kept that soda fountain with it’s 5 and 10 cent cokes, nickel and dime ice cream cones and 35 cent Humdinger Shakes for many years. In fact, Hackers Pharmacy had one of the last original soda fountains anywhere. Many local young people served their time as one of his soda jerks. Among them are Gerald Emrick, John Baker, Nora Moyer, Sam Hacker, and of course, Ric.

Ric told me there are many more,  but those are the one that ‘come to mind’.

Mr. Hacker had a very successful nearly 40 year run with his pharmacy.

It didn’t start out that way, the early years were very tough for him. Initially, he opened the store in competition with The Rexall Pharmacy just down the street from his store and received very little business from ANYONE, with the exception of those who came in for the soda fountain.

Ric says, “…that years later Dad would tell us that, had it not been for the people of Farmersville and the members of the local Catholic Church, he would not have made it in business but those folks DID get their prescriptions from him and, for that, Dad was always thankful.”

And, as the years rolled on, Mr. Hacker became an accepted and respected member of the Germantown community.

That’s kind of an understatement.

Ric told me, “Dad’s motto was “honesty, good faith and competency” and that was not only true of Dad’s business but also of his life. He was all of those things and much more. He became a “born again” Christian sometime around 1960.”

Ric tole me his dad’s story this way, “The story goes that Dad was in danger of becoming an alcoholic when he had an “awakening.” He literally changed overnight. He became a true scholar of the Bible and was extremely knowledgeable. He became a lay leader at the old Wesley’s United Methodist Church then, later, at the Germantown Church of God. He was a Sunday School teacher at both churches for many years and would hold Sunday night Bible study sessions for interested individuals. In fact, Dad was such a great speaker that many thought he could have had a good career as a minister.”

I knew Mr. Hacker as an adult, and a respected member of the community.  He WAS young once, and was an excellent baseball pitcher in the knothole leagues of Cincinnati. Ric says he can personally attest to the fact that he had the nastiest slow curve ball he’s ever seen!

He played the trumpet.

He played the banjo.

He was an avid Reds fan throughout his life but it was his love of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats that really defined him, especially the basketball and football teams.

Ric closed with, “Since his passing on December 21, 2012, the Hacker family has heard many previously untold stories of Dad’s befriending of others.  His good deeds and his charitable works. He was a man who found success in Germantown. He was a very good man and a very good citizen. He was well liked and respected.”

Photo courtesy of Ric Hacker

Photo courtesy of Ric Hacker

His policy of ‘honesty, good faith and competency” paid off.

And the Cherry Cokes weren’t bad either!

 

*Special thanks to Ric Hacker for his help on this post, seriously, ‘it wrote itself”!

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