Legendary Lipes

stories collected and compiled by Mary Anne Marx

Well, there goes the neighborhood again! Every time we lose another "institution" in South Roanoke all kinds of emotions get stirred up and we look for resolution. The old oak tree fell and we planted a new one. But some things are irreplaceable. After nearly 82 years in business, the doors may be closed, but the memories keep coming. Lipes Pharmacy lives on for many who grew up and raised children here in South Roanoke. If you remember the fountain, it's still hard to believe it hasn't been there since 1988! It seems like yesterday we were ordering up a hand-mixed milkshake and jostling for the best seat.

This gathering of tales came together with the help of many, and we thank each of you who took the time to send in their thoughts. Extra kudos go to Eric Fitzpatrick, Kim Rech, and Laurie Dalhouse Saunders for their enthusiastic assistance. We wish nothing but the best for David, Sheila, and Robbie and thank all those staff members who served South Roanoke so well for so long. We will miss you!

HONEY BUN HEAVEN

Cleo using the steam machine to heat up a honey bun...unbelievable with a cherry smash! Curt Davis and I would go into Lipes and say to Cleo: "lemme hava heated honey bun". She would snap back at us as only Cleo could "then sit down why don't cha". (Bob Martin)

Don't forget the glob of butter Cleo put on said honey bun before it was put in the steamer. Man, melt in your mouth good (my arteries are clogging just thinking about it)! Cleo could be moody and gruff but deep down, you knew she lived for being there and enjoyed taking our razzing and giving it right back. (Curt Davis)

I really remember flying down the sidewalk and skidding to a halt as my bike slammed against the glass window in the usual rush to dive into a butter-covered honey bun! Whenever I see a honey bun today, I often think of sitting on Lipes stools awaiting a steam-heated bun! Lipes kept a stainless steel tub of butter with a paint brush next to the steamer and drenched their honey buns and grilled cheeses, which led to ultimate caloric satisfaction! (Fred Hamlin)

My fondest memory from days at Lipes is all thanks to Eric for introducing the heated/steamed honey bun to me. During the summer, after playing some kind of ball (football, basketball, or even wiffle ball) all morning and half the afternoon and being covered in who knows what (dust and sweat), we would walk down or ride our bikes from wherever we had been playing ball and sit ourselves down in a booth if we were lucky. (I wonder now what the clientele must have thought of us.) We would order up one of those UNBELIEVABLY scrumptious honey buns smothered in butter.......oh man, oh man....I can taste it today. (David "Willy Wire" Wimmer)

WAXING NOSTALGIC

The ultimate vanilla and cherry coke, honey bun steamed in the Fresh-o-Matic, Cleo using the hand grinder attached to the booth table to make fresh chicken salad. The best burger. How about the free Coke while you waited for a prescription? (Mark Lowman)

That is where I learned to put M&M's in my vanilla milkshake. Lipes was way ahead of DQ. (Jenny Vogel)

I'm a recent transplant to Roanoke, so I don't remember Lipes when it had a soda fountain, but I'm deeply saddened and frustrated by it's closing. My relationship with my pharmacist is just as important to me as my relationship with my doctor. David, Sheila, and Robbie have been gracious, accommodating, and knowledgeable-more than that, they have become friends. (Pam Martin)

Has anyone mentioned one of the greatest summer refreshments ever the lime freeze and then later the orange freeze? On a hot summer day, I can remember walking to Lipes for the sole purpose of enjoying one of these savory treats. Over the years, others have tried to duplicate it, but no one has ever been able to make one as delicious as Lipes. (Eddie Smith)

Very, very sad! Best pimiento cheese ever!...nothing like eating lunch at Lipes! (Marion Lawton)

The best and only place I've ever had a cherry smash and the biggest scoops of ice cream for 5 cents...we'd go there every Sunday after church with my parents and get ice cream and take a drive with our cones. My parents got their prescriptions driven to their house until yesterday! We will miss Lipes for so many reasons. Thanks cha cha! (Muffin Gregory)

Favorite memories of Lipes...too numerous to count! Among the top contenders: the ability to charge "stuff" totaling hundreds of dollars per month to my parents; the incomparable pimiento cheeseburger; buying chewy Sweet-Tarts at 7-11 and having Cleo or Sheila put them on a plate and steam them for us in that killer steam machine...then serve them to us at the table! Unbelievable!

Another naughty Lipes memory (but not my own): I remember my mom telling us (and she would cry laughing) about how when they were pretty little, one of "the Butler boys" (not sure which one) lifted a $10 or $20 bill (or possibly even a $5 since it was probably around the late 1950's) from Caldwell's wallet and treated everybody in the neighborhood to a toy at Lipes...I've always loved that!

What about the old men who'd come in and order AMMONIA cokes?!?!?!?! I guess that must have had some sort of medicinal purpose? My stomach always churned when I heard someone order those! Blech! (Jenny Lee)

I didn't grow up in Roanoke, but I will NEVER forget the first time I walked into Lipes in the early to mid 1980's. The first thing that caught my eye were the two teenagers working behind the soda fountain on the right side of the store: a cute blonde girl with a ponytail and clean cut young man with a crew cut. As I began to look for whatever it was I was looking for, a middle-aged lady in an all white uniform appeared to help me find it. She had cat-eye glasses and a graying beehive haircut with a Number 2 pencil conveniently stored right in the middle of it. As the theme from The Twilight Zone began to play in my head, I was convinced that somehow I had managed to travel back in time. (Hank Simpson)

I have a painting done by Ann Glover that brings back many good Lipes memories. It is of the interior of the store, looking toward the front door, as if you were standing at the pharmacy counter. I can see the booths that used to be crowded with SoRo neighbors enjoying the famous grilled cheese sandwiches, or simply having a coke and chatting with whomever came by. It was the place to find out what was hopping, and it was a happening place itself! In addition to the fact that Doc Harvey knew his customers well and could give advice tailored to our individual needs, you could get a check cashed there, and rely on timely delivery of medicines when your child was too young or too sick to let you come in to pick them up. In the days of pay phones, our kids could make a free call on Lipes' phone when they were short of funds to make a paid call. Among the intangible services were the fact that they kept an eye on your kids, either to administer a kind word, or a correction, if that was what was called for. I still can't accept the fact that all that it is over. Lipes was family, just as Tinnell's is, and we were their family, too. (Carol Dalhouse)

For me, Lipes was distinguished foremost by the people who worked there-especially Peanut, Edna, and Sheila. (And yes, we snickered about why someone would choose to go by the name of "BM", who so faithfully ran pharmacy deliveries to elderly people in South Roanoke.) They knew everyone by first name, they knew your family and they formed lasting relationships with their customers that spanned decades. Who can forget getting a warm smile and a hug from Peanut?

After every sandlot sports practice or "home" game, a group would always walk from South Roanoke Park to Lipes for one of their famous limeades or some other fountain thirst quencher. One by one each of us would then walk to the far end of the counter near the front window to use the black house phone (no charge) to call our parents to pick us up. While waiting at Lipes, there would always be lively bantering among the players, perhaps about playing against our main rival, the dreaded Heights Club, or some funny occurrence like having our center fielder throw the ball over the backstop to the amazement of our catcher, Michael Byers, who stood transfixed, eyes in the air watching the ball sail twenty feet over his head (along with the base runner who was by then standing safely on home plate waving on his teammates still on base to come on home that team may have been the model for the Bad News Bears).

Lipes was a safe house for everyone. The friendly people who worked there made it so. No CVS or Walgreens will ever take its place as a neighborhood anchor. I can only hope that whatever business occupies the space will understand and embrace what Lipes represented to current and future South Roanoke kids. (Greg Feldmann)

My memories of Lipes began when I was at Crystal Spring in 3rd grade. My Mom would have her prescriptions filled and while we waited, I would sit at the counter on a swivel stool and get a milkshake from Cleo! Mom always had an olive cream cheese & cucumber sandwich! When I was old enough, a group of us (teens) would go to Lipes every day after school and sit in the back in one of the booths! We ordered cheeseburgers, fountain Cokes, honey buns (with extra butter melted on them) and lots of candy! We "charged" it ...of course! Favorite person of all time to all the kids was Cleo! Cleo kept us all in line!!! Lipes will always be in my memories and heart! (Kim Rech)

Remember the fountain that the cokes came out of? Cleo would open a giant paper carton of Coke syrup and pour it into the top...then the coke would stream out into a cup of ice, half dark, half clear. I loved Vanilla cokes the most with an extra squirt of vanilla. Wasn't there an old-fashioned white scale or something near the door? I think it didn't work but we stood on it anyway; the part that you stood on kind of wiggled. The candy was under the glass counter where you paid, the boxes of rock candy in the front left corner...that was something 7-11 didn't have! Mrs. Dillon was always sitting at the counter when my friends and I burst in, I'm sure much to the dread of every adult in the store. My friends and I would come in on a Saturday with a hard-earned dollar, and spin on the stools waiting for our lunch (the booths were always taken by old ladies...smoking!) Remember BM? The prescription medicine delivery man, his dusty brown car putting around South Roanoke, or parked on the side of Lipes. In the back at the prescription counter they would let you use the phone to call your mom when it started raining. The BEST, though, was that free Coke when you came in for your medicine. They don't make ice like that anymore. (Susanna Field Bingley)

CHARGE IT!

I got in MAJOR trouble for charging so much junk to my parents' account and my name landed on the "not allowed to charge" list that was posted prominently beside the cash register. So my "ability" to abuse the charge account was short-lived, as well it should have been! I remember envying those friends lucky enough to have parents with a charge account at Lipes AND Tinnell's, and they took full advantage of both every day after school and on Saturdays! tsk tsk tsk!!! (Jenny Lee)

I have two quick memories that shine the brightest for me. First, walking or riding my bike to Lipes to pick up cigarettes and other controlled substances for my mother. My reward was a cherry coke or a milkshake. I felt very important picking up contraband and taking it home after saying: "It's a charge for Penny Lee". The second is the delivery service which brought cigarettes and other controlled substances to my mother. Our friend BM would drive up to the house and ring the doorbell with the goods. My mother would yell out the upstairs window something like: "Thanks, BM, please charge that to Penny Lee." I wonder if all of Penny's and Jenny's charges were ever paid off before my parents left us! Maybe it was deducted from the estate and and we never knew. (Tom Lee)

Grilled cheese sandwiches made with mayo and cherry cokes at the grill with girlfriends. A large selection of "LOVE'S BABY SOFT" products and best of all....charging it to Mom!!! (Kemp Kulp Renninger)

Lipes cheeseburger, the best cheeseburger ever, led to my name being posted on the "banned from charging on parents account list" often. My sister Koiner was fond of the magazine selection.....She joined me on the "list" (Robert Kulp)

I loved going to Lipes in the 60's and 70's, hanging out with my friends, charging my lime freeze and cheeseburger to my parents' account, feeling especially cool if we were lucky enough to get one of the two booths next to the grill. I believe that my addiction to candy may have started at the Lipes candy counter, although the candy counter at the firehouse was also to blame. I really loved it when they had to put a sign up saying that my little brother was not allowed to charge, as I believe he had been treating all his friends to sodas and burgers and my parents put a stop to it. (Katie K. Jones)

Was just talking with my folks about Lipes closing! I can't believe it! I remember trying my darndest to gain weight - you and I would go to Lipes, I'd order French Fries, a chocolate milkshake (with raw egg!), and a greasy cheeseburger! YUMMY!!! Did our parents ever pay the tab? hee, hee....we could CHARGE it!!!! (Cathy Duckwall Dupont)

I just remember walking down there practically every day with Sarah Tune because my parents had a charge account. I had the same thing each time - a hot dog and chocolate shake. I used/abused it so much my parents closed the account and I still remember walking in there years later and seeing the big ACCOUNTS CLOSED list posted by the cash register and David K. Denson was at the top of the list much to my dismay! Even though we haven't lived in Roanoke for more than 20 years and the soda fountain counter has been closed for years, Lipes' closing is the end of an era! (Caroline Denson Stokes)

Well, this has scratched an old scab! Not only was I not allowed to EVER charge anything at Lipes, I was strictly forbidden to 'hang around Lipes' which meant, to my parents, being seen there. Totally ruined any chance I may have had of ever being cool. I would, when feeling defiant, briefly hover around Tinnell's-feeling totally OF the Lipes world, if not IN the Lipes world! Could someone please, finally, tell me about the really dangerous and naughty stuff I was missing out on? Maybe it was Suzanne... [see Doug Goldsmith's tale for clarification] (Ann Hagan Gladstone)

We never even entertained the thought of charging stuff at Lipes! (or Tinnell's)...... Mom and dad had made that very clear! (Eric Fitzpatrick)

It was made clear to me that I was not supposed to go there at all without Mom or Judge! (Bev Fitzpatrick)

LIPES LORE

In the glory days of the 85, 100, and 115 pound sandlot football squads, getting ready for football practice at South Roanoke Park included one ritual that ensured a final payoff at the end of the day. In addition to donning football pants and shoulder pads, etc., each of us stuffed one nickel in our socks before putting on our cleats. After practice that always began and ended with Coach Joe Kirkland twirling his finger in the air meaning, "Take two laps around the park, boys," we would head to Lipes as fast as our tired bodies and sparking cleats would allow. There in front of the store we would sit, remove our football shoes, pull off our dirty socks and retrieve our ticket to refreshment. Cleats left outside, we would enter with nickel in hand to take our place in a row upon the red-padded, circular swivel chairs. There, Tina would serve us true root beers made from scratch right before our eyes. I still see her stirring mine, the mixed dark syrup and soda water foaming ice-cold to the top of the glass and beyond. Although Tina and her cohorts would not ever take any guff from anyone, they received us daily as if we were great champions and honored us most mightily with the refreshing and loving generosity of a hero's reward. (Rob Goldsmith)

When I was attending Crystal Spring School, lunch was 35 cents a plate, and every now and then, my buddies and I would scrounge up an extra 2 cents each and head to Lipes during the lunch break. For a mere 0.37 cents, Cleo would make you the best milk shake in town. Chocolate malt, whipped cream ar refreshing drinks, Johnny's sister Suzanne drove up to take Johnny home and offered the rest of us a ride. While Bill decided to ride his bike home two blocks, Johnny and I got in the car with his sister. The next thing we know, we're sitting inside of Lipes, in the car, with Hallmark cards flying everywhere! Cleo was frantic! Suzanne had unknowingly put the car in drive instead of reverse and plowed over Bill and through the plate glass window and landed on top of the ice cream machine! Bill escaped without a scratch but his bike was history. (Doug Goldsmith)

I would like to take this opportunity to try and clear my name. Seems in recent years Peanut has accused me of riding my bike through Lipes at some point. Not that I wouldn't have done that, probably just never thought of it. Besides, my dad was adamant that I was never going to be a "drugstore cowboy". Funny when I first heard that term it sounded like the neatest thing you could ever aspire to become. I am sure at some point whether hanging out on a Saturday morning with your friends or stopping by on your bike ride home from football practice at South Roanoke Park, I qualified as a drugstore cowboy. But I am sticking to my story that I never rode my bike through Lipes. Seems Peanut is very positive that it was one of those Hamlin boys. At this point I can only do one thing and that is to throw my younger brother, Boo, under the bus. Now riding your bike through Lipes is not anywhere near as cool a stunt as driving your car through the front of it but I think Suzanne is getting a bum rap and was way ahead of her time trying to invent the drive through drugstore which all the big chain drugstores now have. (Bill Hamlin)

I had the privilege of working at Lipes in the late 60's, on a part-time basis. I believe I was given a free meal and numerous fountain drinks as payment for light clean-up duties and helping B.M. McGeorge deliver the medicine around town. The pharmacist at the that time was Mr. Clingenpeel, or "Cling" as he was affectionately called. Cling asked me to deliver a prescription order in Edge Hill Estates. Lipes delivery vehicle was a small, two door Renault with a stick shift between the seats on the floor. I completed the delivery and headed downhill toward the intersection at Franklin. Just as I downshifted into a lower gear, the stick shift broke off at the base. After I regained my wits, I was lucky enough to find a long handled screw driver in the glove box. I used it in place of the broken stick shift, and made it back to Lipes. I left the car for B.M. to deal with the next day. (Jay Kincannon)

A certain man I know intimately (I'll call him J.P.) got in BIG TROUBLE at Lipes when he was about 14 years old. Seems that J.P., Becky Garrett, Ab Boxley, and several others decided to dig into Becky's father's liquor cabinet. After retrieving a very old bottle of scotch from the cobwebbed bowels of the cabinet, the group decided to partake. Nobody could handle straight shots of scotch, so they tried to shove chunks of ice in the bottle. Well, duh, that didn't work either. Next, they stuffed their cheeks with ice and swooshed the scotch around in their mouths to get it cold before swallowing. That method seemed to do the trick. Yuck.

After "cocktails," the happy group linked arms and went skipping down Jefferson Street towards Lipes in hopes of getting the scotch flow through their system so that they could "feel drunk faster." Well, that at least seemed to work for the aforementioned J.P. He went into Lipes and laid his head down on the cool counter. Suddenly, Cleo announced, "NO DRUNKS ALLOWED IN LIPES!!!!!!" and the group got kicked out.

After that, J.P. managed to wobble across the street and "take a little nap." (Others know it as passing out.) Ab apparently starting yelling, "John is going to swallow his tongue! We've got to get him help!" Ab Ellett, a neighbor, came and retrieved J.P., took him to the hospital where his stomach was pumped, and called his parents to come home from a tennis weekend at Farmington Country Club to claim their drunk young teenager.

To this day, J.P. (John Parrott) has not and never will touch a drop of scotch!!!! (Martha Parrott)

My fondest memories of Lipes are of those early days when the little Japanese man from the Duncan toy company would come to demonstrate on the sidewalk in front of the store. Kids would lean on the store windows and the old fire alarm pole as we watched in wonder the pageant unfolding before us.

We called him "Yo-Yo Joe," and in short order, he would have two of those things going simultaneously, swinging over his head and out in front of him. (The "close to the thighs" motion brought to mind Marshall Matt Dillon at the top of his game.) He seemingly never got the strings to these orbiting blurs tangled, and every now and then he would abruptly stop and announce with bravado the trick he would next perform.

"ROCK THE BABY!" he would proudly exclaim and then proceed-using what seemed to be no less than five or six hands-to contort the string back on itself until-VOILA!-there the yo-yo would hang, spinning like a banshee, rocking back and forth from a swingset conjured from that one piece of yarn. "WALKING THE DOG!" he would next proclaim and then proceed to throw the yo-yo (at what had to be 150 mph!) downward toward the pavement where it miraculously spun at the end of its tether. (I vividly remember trying repeatedly to mimic this trick only to have the yo-yo skip back up into my (by then battered) knuckles! OUCH!) This guy was goooood! He then would walk it along the sidewalk until he told it to jump back up into his hand...amazing!

How did he do it?! To us, he was nothing less than the Merlin of his time and his demos kept all of the Lipes kids enthralled .The excitement usually lasted until we could save up enough moola (from mowing yards and odd jobs) to get ourselves a yo-yo or a Duncan Spinning Top of transparent plastic (with sparkling flakesĀ  of gold suspended inside!). These became the crown jewels of Crystal Spring Elementary School and were highly valued by us all...until that day that comes to all boys when we came to realize...that all around us on the playground...THERE WERE GIRLS!!! (Eric Fitzpatrick)