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Interview with Doc Hardee

Hardee, Aldridge K. "Doc" Jr.
Johnson, Jean
Date of Interview: 
Drug store; Pharmacy; Wilmington, NC; Providence Road; Charlotte, NC; World War II; Penicillin; Sugar Creek; Hardee's Pharmacy; Myers Park Pharmacy; Graham, NC; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Graham Brothers Dairy Farm; Morehead Street; Providence Road; Park Road Shopping Center.
A practicing pharmacist for more than fifty years, Mr. Hardee discusses his career and business, Hardee's Pharmacy. He describes his operations, including the soda fountain, lunch counter, and retail end of his drug store. Hardee reflects on the changing habits of customers and the role of pharmacists. Specifically, he recalls the impact of World War II on pharmacological work. One of Hardee's regular patrons was Mr. Frank Graham, father of the Reverend Billy Graham. Hardee recalls personal tidbits about the elder Graham such as his transportation preferences, farm, and mode of dress. Likewise, he offers more general information about the Graham family.
Interview Setting: 
Interview took place on Fairfax Drive, Charlotte, NC.
Levine Museum of the New South, Billy Graham Series
Interview Audio: 
DH (Doc Hardee): Prescriptions for him or something of that nature, I wouldn't have, wouldn't have known him. He--.
JJ (Jean Johnson): Wait just a second. Let me interrupt you one minute. We're talking to Doc Hardee. It's May 3rd, and we're on Fairfax Avenue. OK, go ahead.
DH: Fairfax Drive.
JJ: Drive. Fairfax Drive.
DH: Fairfax Avenue is on the on the other side of town.
JJ: Oh, is it?
DH: Yes.
JJ: [Laughter] OK. Well tell me first about your drug store. You're a pharmacist?
DH: Yes.
JJ: Tell me about how you got started and what year you opened your drug store.
DH: I worked--. After I got my degree and license in pharmacy, which was in June of '39, I worked in High Point for, up to end--middle of December that year. Then I went down in Wilmington and worked for Futrelle Pharmacy for a year and came up here, bought the store from, which was then called, Park Place Number Two. Louis Holmes owned it. Now Park Place Number One is still up there on Providence. And I bought the store from Louie Holmes and changed the name from Park Place Number Two to Hardee's Pharmacy.
JJ: Now how many people were working in the store when you opened it? Were you by yourself?
DH: No, we had a soda--. Well two--. Well, we had a delivery service so there was person there, and there was a person on each shift at the soda fountain and two, one on each shift in the other side of the store, the sundries and cosmetics and all like that, home remedies. Then I worked as a pharmacist, and I had part-time help that worked half a day, couple times a week.
JJ: So you opened that pharmacy, and what was the date?
DH: January the 1st, '41.
JJ: And then you, you left there when?
DH: June 30th, '93
JJ: That's a long time.
DH: 52 years.
JJ: Yeah. It is. And what's it doing now?
DH: Feels like I try to catch up on a lot of things I let go while I was working those long hours.
JJ: How did you see pharmacy change from the 40s to the 90s?
DH: Well, there's a lot of change. In early 40s--. Well all through the 40s, up--. The, through the world, Second World War, we did a lot of compounding. We'd take different chemicals and different liquids and mix them together in proper proportion and dispense. Most of them were dispensed that way, and after the Second World War, we came more and more, especially the ready-made products from the manufacturers.
JJ: Do you remember when you got penicillin?
DH: I remember it, but I don't know the exact date. No, I can't tell you.
JJ: Was it after the war?
DH: It was--. I believe right after the Second World War. May have been during the last part of it. I don't know. I can't remember.
JJ: Did you serve food?
DH: What?
JJ: Did you serve food in the drug store? What kind of things could you buy to eat?
DH: Well we owned the soda fountain. We had ready-made sandwiches we bought from--. Well I don't remember which was first. Carolina Foods I believe was the second one, and who--. They had bought out another sandwich company. They brought wrapped sandwiches around everyday. And we served that, served them that way. We made no sandwiches ourselves.
JJ: How about drinks and sodas and that sort of thing?
DH: We had a soda fountain. Made drinks, milk shakes, orangeade, lemonades, Coca-Cola and all. Cherry smash and all of that type stuff.
JJ: What was the most popular drink? Do you remember?
DH: Coca-Cola.
JJ: Probably still is.
DH: Well, I'll say, I imagine it still is.
JJ: Yeah, yeah.
DH: Coca-Cola was the most popular, I'm sure.
JJ: And, now the Grahams--. Billy said he used to come in there with his father and Melvin. That they used to go and sit at the counter and have sodas. Can you tell us what you remember about Mr. Graham, the father?
DH: I remember Mr. Graham a lot. He was a patient of Dr. Boylston. Dr. Boylston was general practitioner. He lived on Selwyn Avenue. The house is now gone. There's an apartment building there. But if you came up Tranquil Avenue into Selwyn, and didn't turn either to your left or your right, went straight across, you'd gone into Dr. Boylston's home. Run into his house. And he, he had a room in his house, like many of the doctors of that time, fitted out and equipped so he could see patients and take care of minor things and check on them and see if the patient was doing all right on the medication he was on. And Mr. Graham lived over, like I said, over there where that Graham business thing is. And there was no bridge across the creek at all, except down that far road and up there on East Boulevard. There's no bridge on Hillside, Brandywine, anywhere in there. And--.
JJ: Which creek are you talking about?
DH: Briar--. Sugar Creek. One that goes right along the backside of, runs parallel to West Cedar Road. And he, Mr. Graham, now as far as I know- and I saw him often- never drove automobiles. He'd ride in one, but he never did drive one. And he'd see, see Dr. Boylston. He would--. Sometimes he used the buggy and sometimes just ride-most often just ride his horse. And he would drive, you know, on his horse and buggy, go down Park Road, cross the creek there, right where that Giant Genie is now, come up Selwyn, go up to Dr. Boylston's, see Dr. Boylston, and Dr. Boylston prescribed any medicine for him. He'd come back to the store, and I'd fill his prescription and he'd go on home. But in those days, Selwyn Avenue was a narrow macadam road. It wasn't four lanes, just a country road, really. And right in front of the drugstore, where on the edge of the road about where the sidewalk is now, there was a big tree. Mr. Graham would tie his horse up to that tree and come in and get his medicine, go back out and go down Selwyn and get on, turn up Park Road. I seen that horse tied up to that tree many a times.
JJ: And then later did he come in with his boys?
DH: Some. I don't remember. I know Melvin--. For every now and then, Mr. Graham would call in about getting a prescription refilled, and most of the time then Melvin would come by, come down and get it and go back home. I'm sure Billy must have gotten it some of the time. Melvin usually was the one that got it. And (Pause) that's a right good trip from down Park Road up Selwyn, back down Selwyn, back up Park Road. That's not just like walking around the block.
JJ: How old was Melvin when he was doing that, when you remember it?
DH: I don't know.
JJ: I mean was he a boy or--?
DH: He was
JJ: Grown?
DH: a young man, an old boy, a young man.
JJ: Uh-huh. Yeah.
DH: I would say in his late teens
JJ: Uh-huh.
DH: would be my guess.
JJ: Uh-huh. Right.
DH: That's just a guess, though.
JJ: Yeah. Have you ever been to a Billy Graham crusade here?
DH: No, I haven't.
JJ: Did anybody in your family go?
DH: My son has been but once or tw--. Oldest son's been once or twice.
JJ: Now where did that son live?
DH: He lives in Matthews.
JJ: In Matthews. OK.
DH: I'm sure he's gone once or--. [Pause] Which might as well say that--. [Pause] He, he may have been living in Charlotte then. He lived in Charlotte several years after he was married before he built out in Matthews.
JJ: Um-hum. What's his name?
DH: His name is A.K. Hardee, A. Kirk Hardee, III.
JJ: So that's your name?
DH: What?
JJ: Your name is A.K.?
DH: Yeah. Aldridge Kirk Hardee, Jr.
JJ: But everybody calls you Doc?
DH: A lot of people do.
JJ: Uh-huh.
DH: Some of them call me Kirk. My father went by the name of Aldridge, and I went by the name of Kirk. My son--. Actually the people called more often, I don't know why, was called both.
JJ: Would that have been the closest pharmacy to the Grahams, yours?
DH: Yeah.
JJ: What, where were the other pharmacies? Were there any other ones around?
DH: Park Place Pharmacy up on Providence Road beside the Manor Theatre.
JJ: And that's it?
DH: And Myers Park Pharmacy over on East Morehead. I believe that little street that went down through there was named Harding Place. I'm not sure. It was a couple of blocks over from Morehead from where Kings Drive is, a couple blocks towards town on the corner.
JJ: Um-hum. What else, what else was around your pharmacy when Selwyn was a dirt road? What else was here?
DH: Well Selwyn was not a dirt road; it had two-paved macadamized.
JJ: Macadam road. Yeah.
DH: I came to Charlotte, well I said I bought the pharmacy from Louis Holmes. I was up where the ladies dress shop and beauty salon is. Where I moved over, after such-- Deal. Gus Deal and his wife operated a grocery store in the part that I took over after the Second World War. That's the bigger side on down this side of it. And I needed more space and that became vacant. I rented it, got the lease on it and rented it and stayed in there until I closed out the business.
JJ: Were you in the war, in World War II?
DH: No, I was not. I was never drafted. I just wasn't in it.
JJ: How did most people get to your pharmacy?
DH: Well walked, drove, one or the other. In those days there were only one or two houses on Hassell Place and several of them-- Brandywine, Dilwood, Wales, Hillsdale. Tranquil was pretty solid but pretty well built up. So was Hillside, Ridgewood, Colony, Roswell, Normandy and Pickardy. They were all--. Little street in right behind the store there called Glendale. It was just about a half block long, but it was all almost solid.
JJ: Who was the owner before you? Holmes?
DH: Louis M. Holmes. He owned Park Place Number One on Providence.
JJ: Does he have any family here? Do you know?
DH: I don't think so.
JJ: OK. [Long pause] That may be when Billy came in as a child, when he owned the store.
DH: Could be.
JJ: Because Billy was born in 1918.
DH: See I, I didn't come--. I didn't come to Charlotte, like I said, January 1, [Pause]'41.
JJ: Uh-huh. Do you know how long Mr. Holmes had the drugstore or when he started it?
DH: I don't. I'd say it had been open five-six, well five-six years. I don't know.
JJ: [Pause] OK.
DH: It wasn't a brand new store, but it wasn't an old, old store either.
JJ: Um-hum. All right. And the other one's on Providence?
DH: Yeah it's--. He had nothing to do with that. Somebody else owns that.
JJ: Yeah, and then the Myers Pharmacy.
DH: Here's a picture of it.
JJ: Oh, I was going to ask you if you had any old pictures. Now what is this book? Oh, the legacy book. Well now--. Oh, that's where the farmers market is.
DH: Yes.
JJ: Yeah. OK. [Pause] OK. Do you have a picture of your drugstore, an old picture?
DH: I think--. I don't think so. I think my daughter's got that. I had some, but--.
JJ: I should have asked you that the first time you got up. [RECORDING INTERRUPTED] [RECORDING RESUMED] I was going to ask you a couple more questions
DH: Um-hum.
JJ: about the practice of pharmacy. Is it--. Do you feel like people are taking a lot more medicine now than they used to?
DH: I don't know, they pro--. Maybe. I just don't know. It'd be hard to say. I know the average store is filling more prescriptions, but I don't know whether that means they have more customers because of it. And whether it is--. It may, they may be a little, little increase for the average person, only a matter of, of a number rather than any different drugs they're taking.
JJ: And, and do they use, people use the pharmacist in same way as far as asking questions or--?
DH: Oh, yes. That's one of our big jobs is to be able to talk to people about medication and tell them what the side effects might be, what to watch for and everything like that.
JJ: Of course now you get a print-out, a computer print-out that tells you all that. [Laughter]
DH: Yeah.
JJ: Yeah.
DH: So with that, and we, we always told them that, especially if it was anything that was had a high potential of causing a side effect, you're real careful to tell them about it and to stress what they should look for and what to do if there was any of those side effects showed up.
JJ: Did they have anything around Charlotte, when you started practicing, like yellow fever or malaria, was that--? Because I know they found a cure for that during the war.
DH: No. There's always been a few cases of malaria. I mean that's--. I can remember back when my father was a pharmacist and owned a drugstore in Graham, North Carolina. And I remember every now and then during the summer months, a case of malaria would show up. It was not wide spread, but it happened every now and then.
JJ: So you grew up in Graham?
DH: Yeah.
JJ: And then where did you go to school?
JJ: Oh.
DH: Chapel Hill. Have a degree, Bachelor of Science and Industrial Chemistry, 1935. Worked, went out and worked about a year and a half. Didn't like it. Went back and got my degree in pharmacy, Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in '39.
JJ: OK, well those were all the questions I have, unless you can think of anything else you want to add to it.
DH: I can't think of much.
JJ: Mrs. Graham ever come to the store, the drugstore?
DH: What?
JJ: Mrs. Graham?
DH: No, I never saw her to my knowledge. She may have been in there, but if she did come in, she was just a customer that wasn't getting a prescription filled or anything like that so I could identify her. She may have come in and bought toothpaste, you know, or something of that nature. I knew, didn't know who she was or anything else.
JJ: Yeah.
DH: But, but he--. [Pause] Melvin was the one that I remember. I don't even remember the daughter's name. Melvin was the one that he--. If his father wanted a refill, and he'd come get it. And this is right interesting, like I told you, there was no bridge over Sugar Creek between Morehead, or--, between East Boulevard, probably-I think it, that one was open-and Park Road. But was a tremendous pipe, iron pipe across Sugar Creek, oh, a few yards down where the bridge there at Brandywine. And Melvin sometimes would walk across that pipe to get from his side of the creek to my side of the creek, then walk back across it. I wouldn't of--. That pipe was high off of the creek water, higher than this ceiling near the--. It was up there. He, he walked across it.
JJ: Did you ever go to the Graham dairy farm?
DH: What?
JJ: Did you ever go to their dairy farm?
DH: I doubt I went through it. I saw his cows out there continually. In fact, the big pasture--. And his barns were not there, but his big pasture is where Park Road Shopping Center is now. That's where he pastured most of his cows frequently, most of the time, I guess. But right where the Park Road Shopping Center is.
JJ: It's hard to believe, isn't it?
DH: It is. I think his barns--. Think of that street. Believe it was Abbey. The--. Curves in to Park Road off of Montford, a little where his house set, comes in right beside the NCN--, NationsBank branch. And his barn set back that way from that, from Abbey Place. Not up real close to Park Road, but I'd say a hundred yards or so back off of Park Road.
JJ: It was a pretty big set-up, wasn't it?
DH: It was. A good size setup. A lot of land involved in it.
JJ: Sometimes Billy Graham says that he had a, he was poor when he was little, but I think people have, from reading about the farm and everything, gathered that he wasn't all that poor. [Laughter]
DH: No. He may have been poor compared to the present day standards of wealth, but there's a lot of people, instead of having cash money or stocks, they own land. Mr. Graham owned a lot of land in there.
JJ: Billy Graham is known for, one of the things he's known for, among other things, for the way he dresses. Was Mr. Graham a real dresser? Did he wear flashy clothes, or how did he look?
DH: Well, I never--. I just always saw him in a suit and pants and tie- coat and tie. In the hot summer, sometimes he'd leave his coat off, but, you never did see him--. Those days instead of having a lot of farmers wear, wore overalls. I never did see him in overalls.
JJ: So he must have always changed to come to the doctor and the drugstore?
DH: Well, I don't know. I never did see him wear, wearing, wearing work, what I'd call, work clothes.
JJ: Yeah. Catherine is the daughter's name.
DH: That's who it is?
JJ: Yeah. And then Jean was a lot younger.
DH: Yeah.
JJ: She was eight years younger than Catherine. And Catherine lives somewhere over in here.
DH: She may. I just lost contact with them completely.
JJ: Yeah, yeah. Well, we haven't interviewed them, but I, I will. [Pause] Well, thank you.
DH: You're welcome. That's about all I can tell you.