It’s kind of funny what watering humidors can lead to. And it’s also funny that things that happened 50 years ago or so are now part of Bayshore history.
What brings it all together is the news last month that Richard Stryker, Henry Hudson Regional and University of South Carolina graduate, son of Dick Stryker, former Mayor, founder of Bayshore Pharmacy, still Atlantic Highlands highly respected resident, just purchased his second pharmacy, Middletown Pharmacy in Campbell’s Junction, along with long time partner Scott Eagelton. What’s more, he did it in an age when the giant conglomerates are gobbling up all the smaller places and putting the home town shops and neighborliness out of business.
Like father, like son, the younger Stryker is vowing it isn’t going to happen here. At least in the pharmacy business.
It was almost three-quarters of a century ago when Dick…that’s the older Stryker, was watering humidors as an Atlantic Highlands High School, later St. John’s University student, ensuring the cigars for purchase at Shannon’s Drug Store at 98 First Avenue were kept fresh. He was also working the soda fountain at Shannon’s and even today remembers Coke, including both Lemon Coke and Cherry Coke, were among the favorites, along with the ultra special Jane Logan sundaes. Jane Logan was the prized vintage ice cream and the sundaes were made with that brand alone, served in specially designed glasses and topped with the usual whipped cream and cherry.
Seeing how the pharmacists mixed chemicals and created compounds with powders and Latin-named products was intriguing enough to Stryker that he pursued pharmacy as a career. After earning his degree, working and marrying Pat, the beautiful wife who still keeps him on the straight and narrow, Dick purchased Modern Drugs on Carr Avenue in Keansburg, and some time after that, another pharmacy in Sea Bright. At the time he became a partner in Bayshore Pharmacy with his brother-in-law, Joe McDonald, the young pharmacist had three pharmacies, all busy, all community oriented.
These were also the days, Dick recalls about his early years, when pharmacists had to mix all the potions and medicines, each physician had his own favorite cough remedy Dick had to mix in a syrup, and deliveries to local homes were delivered by bike. It was also a time when there were three pharmacies on First Avenue, Antonides, where Sherman Jewelers is today, Whelan’s, on the Siegfried’s Hardware Store corner, and his own.
He sold the Keansburg and Sea Bright stores to concentrate on his home town pharmacy, adding first one, then a second expansion over the years.
The younger Stryker and his partner Eagelton have followed in the footsteps of Stryker the elder and McDonald. They don’t have to mix potions or pour syrups like in the old days, but they still offer the same home town friendliness and service. And they still think that the customer is the main priority. But Rich’s father will point out that perhaps a pharmacist today can’t so many of all the pleasures of the pharmacist of the mid-1950s. “We didn’t have insurance to deal with back then, “Stryker recalls, “and we didn’t have all the paperwork that has to be done today. The doctor called, we concocted the mixture, the patient took it and was cured,” he smiled, “it was as smile as that.”
“We’re certainly proud of Rich and what he is doing,” Dick said this week, “it’s wonderful to see he still believes in taking the risk to preserve the important things…taking care of the customers that walk through the door. He and Scott strongly believe in the independent pharmacist and they’ve taken a big step to prove it. I’m sure they will.”