Nevius Hall

By Phyllis Badgley

Many Bakerites remember the Nevius Hall, a multi-purpose building named for early day Rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.

The Hall was located South of the present church, on first Street, off Broadway. I recall large columns graced the entranceway, and lovely hardwood floors sparkled in the large auditorium. An elevated stage held a Steinway Grand piano. A roll down curtain featured ads from local businesses, among them were H. C.Stevens Co., Klover Kist Creamery, and C. R. Butson, Insurance.

My sister Alma and I were music students of Mrs. Homer West (Dorothy Blake). The piano teacher chose to have Springtime recitals in the Nevius Hall where the public could attend. I remember going to the Hall to practice on the Steinway prior to program day. The auditorium was very cold and the piano keys stiff. Numb fingers resulted. On one occasion, Mrs. West placed a hot water bottle on piano keys to warm the ivories. I now have a full appreciation for heating systems with easy dial thermostats! Piano students I recall on the same program were Audrey Kirkendall, Nancy Russell, and 3 sisters, Jackie, Doone, and Eileen Eccles.

During the 30's and 40's other private piano teachers I remember were: Mrs. Little, Birdie Bushnell, Ave Steiger, Florence Franch, Mrs. Eylar Staight, and Srs. Of St. Francis at the academy.

The Nevius Hall was used as a USO canteen during the war years. Servicemen from local Camp Baker were entertained there at USO weekend dances. Coffee, cookies, and apples were made available. The Hall had a reading room and letter writing facility. Local benefactor Erma Russell (Mother of Nancy McCullough) shipped boxes of apples overseas to these servicemen after they departed Camp Baker.

During the time St. Stephens remodeled their church, parishioners worshipped in Nevius Hall. The Hall was razed in the early 1950's. (Webmasters Note: I remember this building very well as my father and husband to be were the ones who tore down this building)

Early Baker City Drug Stores

By Phyllis Badgley

Druggist play an important role in the well-being of everyone.

Early Baker City records show J. Wisdom drugstore on the south west corner of Valley and Front (now Main Street). That precedes my recollection. The first building I recall there, in the 1930s, housed J. C. Penny Co. today it's the home of Ryder Bros. Stationery.

I do remember several pharmacies that lined Baker's Main Street. Muegge Drug Co., owned by Norman and Irene Muegge, was located at 1813 Main Street, I have a picture copied from a glass negative showing the interior of that early 1900s establishment. It was possibly taken in February as valentines are displayed on wire stretched overhead. Also shown is a taxidermy piece, a large eagle, against the back wall, which shares space with crutches and a pendulum clock. Storeowner Muegge is third from left in the photo. The customer, second from left, is well dressed in a suit, but also, his shoes are encrusted with Front Street mud. Obviously, asphalt paving was still in the future.

Irene Muegge was a sister to Mamie Cavin and Elizabeth Warfel, the two donors of the famous rock collection at Oregon Trail Museum.

Muegge Drug was later sold to John Norton, who owned the pharmacy for about 20 years. The building now displays its historic stature and houses Betty's Books.

Rodamar Drug was at 1913 Main, most recent location of Mack and Son Jewelers, until they closed shop a few months ago.

In the same block, at 1925 Main, Parsons Pharmacy was located between Baker Packing Co. and Connie Grabb Smoke Shop. Pharmacy owners, Walt and Peg Parsons, had two daughters schooled locally. Joan Parsons, Baker High Class of '42 and Patty, who graduated later. The Flower Box presently occupies the former pharmacy building.

In those late "30s, if a young man was ambitious and dependable, he and his bicycle would likely be hired for after-school deliveries. He might also garner a similar position with Western Union located in the Geiser Hotel building.

Levinger Drug, first established by Louis Levinger, would later be operated by son, Henry. I remember in the '40s, Mrs. Edith Baxa, an employee who developed film orders right on the premises, at 2015 Main. In December 1958, a disastrous fire erupted at Levinger Drug. Fire departments from several surrounding towns were summoned to help quell the blaze. From the ruins, enough stock was salvaged to immediately set up shop half a block away at First and Broadway (present home of Pioneer Bank). Sawhorses, topped with sheets of plywood provided space for merchandise. Upon rebuilding at the Main Street location, Levingers chose to install laminated beams, then the largest in Eastern Oregon. The stores slogan remained constant: "We have four registered pharmacists to serve you." They were Henry Levinger, John Burges, O.D. "Jay" McKee and Charlotte Ward.

Payless Drug came to Baker in 1937, located in the 1900 block, on the east side of Main Street, one door north of Royal Café, present location of Western Auto Store. It was opened by Buford and Blanche Morris (children Robert and Jacquie). Registered pharmacist Sherman Allen joined them. Allen is retired now, and resides in Baker City with his wife, Pansey. After the death of Mr. Morris, his widow married Thomas Lampkin, and moved away, Rod Crosby and wife, Dorothea, became Payless managers during the 1940s. Later, Joe Teeter and wife, Dorothy, acquired the business. In recent years, Payless Drug was sold, enlarged and moved to Campbell Street next to Safeway. It now operates under the name of Rite-Aid.

We've come a long way from the mortar/pestle image when a druggist prepared healing powders "from scratch." We experienced their elixirs concocted for cough and congestion ad progressed through an era of the sulfa drugs. When local doctor Palmer McKim first prescribed sulfa for me, in the prescription he noted, "no eggs or meat" to be ingested while taking the drug. Apparently sulfa didn't absorb well in the presence of proteins.

World War II brought about the introduction of many new drug remedies.

In 1944, the miracle drug penicillin was making its debut. I was a student nurse in Tacoma, Wash., that year, when penicillin was authorized for the first patient use there. People were amazed to learn its source was from a mold grown in a lab.

Currently, antibiotic prescriptions are being filled by druggists, enabled by technology, to order remedies "over the wire." Who knows what the future holds? In our proposed inhabiting of outer planets, perhaps space doctors will prescribe remedies labeled "Moon-shine," "Galaxy Tea," or a few bites of "Milky Way!"

Printed here with the permission of Baker City Herald

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