Dale Dryden – Dryden Pharmacy

Written By: nppladmin - Jan• 13•22
Originally published on Facebook December 10, 2021.

The North Platte Facebook Friday History continues our look at the past. This week we look at a pharmacy: Dryden Pharmacy, owned and operated by Dale Dryden.

James Dale Dryden was born in 1907 in Goodland, Kansas. While a college student at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he married Evelyn Frohm in August of 1930. They were both 23 years old. Dryden was studying to become a pharmacist; and Evelyn was studying English and math. After marriage they stayed in Lincoln to finish college. After graduating college the young couple came to North Platte to partner up with Harlan Gorder to open up the Gorder-Dryden Pharmacy at 506 North Dewey. The partners bought out the stock of Frater Drug Company and opened up their own pharmacy.

Dryden and Gorder remained in business until 1939 when the Lincoln County Tribune announced that the partnership broke up. Dryden bought out Gorder, and Gorder moved to Alliance, Nebraska, where he opened up a pharmacy there.

On Wednesday, May 1st, 1940 the North Platte Telegraph announced that Dryden had installed a new large soda fountain in his drug store. The new soda fountain was larger and began serving lunch (soups, salads, sandwiches and fountain drinks, of course!). The article also stated that Dryden had added a photographic department and remodeled his serum & vaccine department.

Sadly, tragedy struck on January 26, 1946 — the store suffered a large fire. The fire was reported at 4:45 am by Mac Smock, who lived in an apartment above Mac’s Hardware. The hardware store was on the right side of Dryden’s. Smock originally thought all the smoke was caused by a burning trash pile at the rear of the drug store. When firefighters arrived, the fire had been burning a long time. Firefighters were hampered by the darkness and heat of the fire. Gas masks were used as there were many explosions due to all the chemicals exploding in the back of the store. Dryden commented that he had some fire insurance but doubted it would be enough to cover the loss. The store was considered a total loss.

The stores next to Dryden’s, J. C. Penney’s to the south and Mac’s Hardware to the north both sustained a large amounts of smoke damage, but thankfully, no fire and water damage. The apartments above Dryden’s Pharmacy sustained significant damage, as the fire broke through the floor to the apartments above.

The final cost of damage done by the fire to the store was estimated to be over $100,000. J. C. Penney’s and Mac’s Hardware sustained over $75,000 worth of smoke damage between the two of them. No one said (they) knew what caused the fire. Some speculated that the fire was started by the gas furnace, others believed it started in the prescription room at the rear of the building.

Starting in early February Dryden started having “Fire Sale’s” to get rid of salvageable merchandise. By March, James Dryden was working on rebuilding the pharmacy. By August 22, 1946, just seven months later, Dryden opened his newly rebuilt pharmacy. Dryden stated in the North Platte Telegraph that “We spared no expense endeavoring to bring to North Platte what we believe is one of the finest drug stores in Nebraska.”

Just two years later, tragedy struck again for the Dryden’s. On November 6, 1948, Dryden and his step-father Thad Mendenhall both drowned at Lake McConaughy, when their boat capsized. The two men had been out hunting ducks. They were on their way back to a lodge when choppy waves caused the boat to overturn. Witnesses say they clung to the side of the boat for only a short time before losing grip due to heavy wet hunting clothes. Their bodies were recovered several hours later. Dale Dryden was 41 years old.

Evelyn Dryden took over the pharmacy and carried on her husband’s legacy. She stayed in the same location until 1963 when the city began plans for Urban Renewal. The building where the pharmacy was located was sold. Along with the J. C. Penney’s and Mac’s Hardware buildings. All were slated for demolition.

Dryden moved the pharmacy over to Westfield Shopping Center where it became Dryden’s Westfield Pharmacy. Evelyn married Russell W. Derryberry in 1970 and retired from the pharmacy business in 1975. She passed away on May 29, 1982.

Please join us next week for more North Platte History!

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