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Chico History: 1905-1971 Featuring the Bartlett Drug Company by Kathleen F. Gabriel
Downtown Chico, California, drug store undergoes decades of community-wide changes.

"Chico History: 1905-1971 Featuring The Bartlett Drug Company"

The ordinance passed by Butte County supervisors was stark: "All persons within Butte County must wear masks. ... Failure to comply with the law is punishable by a fine of $50 or imprisonment for thirty days, or by both." It was November 17, 1918, and the "Spanish Flu" had hit hard. That year at least 104 Chicoans died of the disease.

Ironically, there was a bright side. Early in 1919 a newspaper account noted business at drug stores was booming: "Every druggist in Chico is riding along on a wave of prosperity that reached its crest last November and has not subsided yet."

Among the eight or so pharmacies operating in Chico at the time was Bartlett's, at 330 Broadway. Chicoan Kathleen Gabriel, who teaches at Chico State and has published on how to best serve underrepresented students, focuses on this downtown landmark to trace Chico History: 1905-1971 Featuring The Bartlett Drug Company ($55 in paperback from Memoir Books; available on Amazon). The book is beautifully designed, replete with hundreds of historical photographs, and meticulously researched.

Gabriel has deep roots in the community. "My paternal grandparents came to the Chico area around 1909," she writes, "and in 1921 their three-year-old daughter, Janette Ruth Martin, contracted catarrhal enteritis. Without antibiotics, she, like many other children with this and similar types of diseases, did not have much of a chance for survival. ... She died in my grandmother's arms on May 21, 1921."

The pharmacy began as the Waste ("pronounced Wass-tee") Drug Company in 1905, became the Smith Drug Company and then, in 1909, the Bartlett Drug Company (operated by Raymond Schaller from 1944 until his death in 1971, when the business closed).

Gabriel's essential account immerses readers in Chico history, including the development of Enloe Sanatorium in Paradise, Sycamore Pool, Chico High, and much more. But it also gives a lot of love to advertisements (Palmolive Olive Oil shampoo, Gleem Toothpaste or Little Liver Granules, anyone?), the new "penny scale," the introduction of the rotary phone (in 1953 "Chico Goes Dial... New numbers will include the prefix Fireside 2"), competing pharmacies and candy stores, and prescription slips.

My prescription: Get the book.

--Dan Barnett, Biblio File, Chico Enterprise Record

Click here to listen to author Kathleen F. Gabriel talk about Chico History: 1905-1971 Featuring the Bartlett Drug Company on "Nancy's Bookshelf," KCHO-FM. Audio starts at 01:19.

"Dr. Kathleen Gabriel is a native Chicoan and graduate of Chico State. She is currently an Associates Professor at the university and has authored various books and articles on underrepresented students.

"Gabriel carries a passion for history. Her new book, Chico History: 1905-1971 Featuring the Bartlett Drug Company is her second publication on Chico history. The book primarily focuses on the 20th century, a small pharmacy business, and the growth and development of downtown Chico."

--Hosted by Nancy Wiegman

 

From 1905 to 1971, downtown Chico, California, evolved. During the first half of the 20th century, most businesses and services were downtown, including drug stores where prescriptions, toiletries, Kodak supplies, postcards, etc., were purchased. This book features the Bartlett Drug Company, but also describes significant events that occurred including the construction of prominent buildings, the town's trolley, the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, the Sycamore swimming pool, the remodeling of the famous Esplanade, and more. Historical facts about Chico that hitherto have not been written about are integrated throughout making the book an excellent resource for history buffs.

Click to order Chico History featuring the Bartlett Drug Co

Order Chico History: 1905-1971 Featuring the Bartlett Drug Company by Kathleen Gabriel

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