Thursday, February 28, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Old Bottles from Lee's Drug Store

Medicine Bottles from Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, Kentucky
I love these old bottles from Lee's Drug Store!  So much, in fact, that I have them displayed on a shelf in our living room--right beside Granddad's old drug store distiller that I wrote about in last week's Treasure Chest Thursday.  All the bottles are made of glass with glass stoppers and have the old drug store labels on them.  I was curious about the medicines they once held, so I did a bit of research.  The large bottle on the right labeled "SYR.AURANTII" contained syrup auranti, or syrup of orange peel.  Yellow in color and with a pleasant odor and taste, this used as a flavoring agent in medicines.  The middle bottle held "Elixir Lactated Pepsin" which was used to relieve indigestion.  The bottle on the left is labeled "PV.ASAFOET." This was most likely used to relieve gas, though several sources mentioned that it could be used to treat hysteria.

Graduated Measuring Glass
Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, Kentucky
In front of the three large medicine bottles is a small graduated measuring glass used to measure liquid ingredients when preparing medicines.

Elixir Lactated Pepsin Bottle
Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, Kentucky

Medicine Label
Elixir Lactated Pepsin
Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, Kentucky

The greenish-blue bottle in the middle of the photo at the top is probably my favorite.  A friend and neighbor from my hometown of Middlesboro, KY, gave this to me after my dad, Frank W. Lee, passed away in 2004, and that alone makes it a treasure to me.  Thank you, Jan!  I, also, like the rather unusual color of the bottle, and I LOVE that it still has the label of the original Lee's Drug Store, complete with Granddad's slogan "Get It At Lee's."  Notice the phone number, too.  I wonder if that's my granddad's handwriting on the label?

Back of Elixir of Lactated Pepsin Bottle
Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, Kentucky

Label on back of Elixir of Lactated Pepsin Bottle
Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, Kentucky

The back of the greenish-blue bottle contains a label of the price Granddad charged for Elixir of Lactated Pepsin.  Interesting.  I just paid $60 for a 1-month supply of my generic brand stomach medication. That's quite a price increase! I think I should have followed in the family footsteps and been a pharmacist.


"Drug Medical Dictionary," Rx List--The Internet Drug Index, 2013

"Physicians Desk Reference,", Montvale, New Jersey:  2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fridays With Frank: Are There Birthday Parties in Heaven?

For this week's Fridays With Frank post, I'm digressing from my series about my grandfather, Frank Lewis Lee.  I'll return to Granddad next Friday, but today is a rather special day for two other Frank Lees:  my dad, Frank Welch Lee, and my brother, Frank Lewis Lee II.

Born February 22, 1962, my brother, Frank, would have been 51 years old today.  He was born only 13 months after I was, and he lived for only two days.  I have always missed him, and I know his death left a huge hole in my parents' hearts.

Frank Lewis Lee II's Nursery Identification Card

Frank Lewis Lee II's Birth Certificate

On February 22, 2004, my dad, Frank Welch Lee, died at age 91.  As I sat by his hospital bed holding his hand that day nine years ago, I remembered that it was my brother's birthday.  That was somehow comforting to me.  As my dad passed on, I imagined that there might be a birthday party going on in Heaven  for my brother that our Daddy would finally get to attend.  Isn't it strange, and sometimes wonderful, where our minds and hearts go in times of grief?

Frank Welch Lee with grandsons, Benjamin Lee Southworth & Lucas Lane Southworth
Middlesboro, Kentucky, November 2003

So, today, February 22, 2013, it's Frank Welch Lee and Frank Lewis Lee II that I most remember. Oh, and by the way, Happy Birthday, Little Frank.  I hope you guys are enjoying this day together--and maybe, I'd like to think, sharing some birthday cake in Heaven?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Granddad's Still

Old Water Distiller Used in Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, Kentucky, c. 1910
No, my granddad wasn't a moonshiner.  (But that would have made for a good story, too, wouldn't it?)  As I've told you before, Frank Lewis Lee was a registered pharmacist and owner of Lee's Drug Store in Middlesboro, Kentucky, from 1910 until about 1960. Back in the day when Granddad ran the drug store, a pharmacist was basically a chemist and made much of the medicine dispensed from his store.  When mixing many of his medicines, Granddad had to use distilled water, and to get distilled water, he made his own right there in the drug store.

The process of distilling basically purifies the water by removing the various microscopic particles of such elements as salt, bacteria, iron, calcium, etc.  The water is boiled until it changes to steam. The steam is collected and allowed to cool and return to a liquid state again.  The microscopic elements are left behind as solid residue while the pure, newly made liquid is distilled water. This old distiller is what my grandfather and later my father used to make distilled water, and it is one of the few items that my dad kept when he sold Lee's Drug Store. Thanks, Dad, for saving this treasure for me.


Otto J. S. Boberg,"Where Distilled Water is Absolutely Necessary," Bulletin of Pharmacy, Vol. 13, p. 115.

"How to Make Distilled Water," How Stuff Works, TLC/Discovery

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: IT'S A BOY!

Letter from Frank L. Lee to his mother, Georgia Lee,
announcing birth of his son, Frank Welch Lee
December 6, 1912
On a piece of paper from the old Sprague Drug Store, my granddad, Frank Lewis Lee wrote to tell his mother, Georgia Gill Lee, of the birth of his first and only child. At that time,  Georgia Lee was staying with her other son, Linus Virgil Lee, and his wife, Mary, in Harlan, Kentucky.  Transcribed below is that letter to Mrs. G. O. Lee, Harlan, Ky., dated December 6, 1912.

Frank Welch Jr., arrived this A. M. at 10:55 with least possible amount of trouble to every one concerned.  Frank Jr., is holding down job that he perhaps will for some time to come, namely a good healthy squall.
Should any complications arise will notify you at once.
Weight  9 1/4 lbs.
Do not need you at once so if Mary needs you please stay.  Know when it suits you we want you to come. 

Elizabeth Rochester Lee with Frank Welch Lee


Friday, February 15, 2013

Fridays With Frank: Feeding the Pigeons

After my grandmother died in 1959, my parents turned their garage into an apartment for my granddad.  He had his own private entrance, a small porch, and big windows that overlooked the yard and the mountains.  He lived here until he passed away in 1962.  A dear friend and former neighbor in my hometown of Middlesboro, Kentucky, inspired today's post with the following message she sent me on Facebook a few days ago:

"Beth, when your grandfather lived down the street from me he had bird feeders in his yard beside his apartment.  I watched him many times put out seed for his beautiful friends.  He was a sweetie."

Frank Lewis Lee feeding the pigeons
Fountain Square, Middlesboro, KY, 1955
While I didn't know about Granddad's bird feeding habits at our house, I do know the story of how he used to feed the pigeons in the middle of downtown Middlesboro.  After he opened Lee's Drug Store on Fountain Square in 1910, Granddad's practice was to arrive at the store by 4:30 AM so he could meet the men delivering the daily newspapers from around the state and the region.  He wanted to have the newspapers organized and ready for sale at the drug store when the rest of the town awoke and started the day.

As he waited for the various newspaper deliveries, my grandfather performed another daily task--feeding the pigeons.  Granddad kept bird seed in the drug store, and every morning he would scatter seed on the downtown sidewalk in front of Lee's.
Frank Lewis Lee in front of Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, KY, 1955
The pigeons, you see, would roost on the ledges and in the nooks and crannies of the old buildings in downtown Middlesboro.  Perhaps they found this such an inviting spot because of the dear man who fed them breakfast every morning as the sun rose over the mountains.

Frank Lewis Lee and his pigeons
Middlesboro, KY, 1955
I'm sure that everyone in town did not find Granddad's feeding of the pigeons as sweet and charming as I, a fellow bird lover, do. They can certainly be a nuisance and cause lots of problems, especially in a public area.  At some point during my childhood, the pigeons began to disappear from downtown Middlesboro.  I recall hearing from my parents that city officials took steps to control and reduce the pigeon population downtown.  And that's exactly what they should have done.  Nevertheless, I'm so glad to have had such a kind and gentle man for a grandfather.  I also was blessed to grow up in a small town full of equally kind people who tolerated this sort of eccentric hobby of one of their own.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Those Places Thursday: Frank & Elizabeth Lee's Middlesboro Home

Frank L. Lee and his dog, Tag,
on the front steps of 204 Arthur Heights
Middlesboro, Kentucky, c. 1940
After my grandparents married and decided to settle down in Middlesboro, Kentucky, they bought a house at 204 Arthur Heights.  This where they would live for the rest of their married lives, until my grandmother died in 1959. The house was situated on a hill that overlooked downtown Middlesboro and provided a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.  It was located only about a half mile from Granddad's drug store, and he would often just walk down the hill to work.

The house is still standing, and I drive by it whenever I'm back in Middlesboro. Several years ago, my husband and I took our two boys to see the house.  It was for sale and empty at the time, so we were able to walk around the yard and peek through the windows. According to my dad and to friends and neighbors in Middlesboro, the house hasn't changed much at all, except for the exterior paint colors.  What a treat to spend some time there, take some photos, and tell my boys about this place where their great grandparents lived and where their grandfather grew up. Below are the photos of the house that I took on this 2004 visit.

Front view of 204 Arthur Heights

Side View of 204 Arthur Heights

This sunroom used to be part of the front porch,  My grandfather had the sunroom built for my grandmother  who suffered from tuberculosis much of her adult life.  The light and sun that came in through the many windows even in bad weather was thought be good for her condition.  She spent much of her time in this room growing African Violets and other plants.

View of downtown Middlesboro from Arthur Heights

Old steps leading from Arthur Heights property down the hill into town
My son playing on the front porch of 204 Arthur Heights.  I'm sure his grandfather and his great grandparents  spent time at this very spot in days gone by

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Granddad's Bachelor Party, Part Two

Original transcription of George Veal's poem to Frank Lewis Lee
October 19, 1905 Bachelor Party

As promised in last Friday's post, here are the poems that were read at the conclusion of Granddad Lee's 1905 bachelor party.  First, the verse read by Mr. George Veal to Frank L. Lee, registered pharmacist.

Here's to our friend, Frank Lee,
Who mixes up prescriptions, and likewise
Mixes drinks,
And knows just how to fix'em, when a
Guy says "dope," and winks.

May he live long to mix up things that'll cure
Most any cuss,
And may he and his ne'er have to take
Stuff like he's mixed for us.

May he sell gallons of paragoric, which will
Make him money right,
But may he ne'er have to chase that dose
For his kid in the dead of night.

May his nights be filled with peace and rest,
And filled with joy his day
May pleasures surround him in hurrying
Throngs, and may troubles steal away.

And may the One Great Pharmacist, who
Prescribed for us all above,
Prepare for him these great draughts of life--
Health, Happiness, and Love.
--So say we all.           (Applause)

Original transcription of Frank L. Lee's speech
October 19, 1905 Bachelor Party

After Mr. Veal's recitation, it's Granddad's turn to respond.  With a few words of thanks to all those present at the party, he reads the following poem to Mr. Veal, bachelor.

May his "form" be well locked up
In the arms of a charming wife,
And may he never know what it is
To want a "quoin"
In business, such an incident will aid him
As well as he thinks it will aid me,
But alas!  Gentlemen, on him
You will have to wait and see.

Then here's to our host, of whose cleverness
And good qualities we all can boast.
Although, in business, he professes to 
Be honest,
He will sell iron, and (steel)
For a living.

Then here's to the jolly bachelor's life,
And may he live till he taken a wife,
For he who not women, wine and song
Will be a fool his whole life long.

Lastly, here's to the about-to-be-Benedicts,
Who, the toasts have been dreading,
May we all live to be present
At their golden wedding.
May their joys be so deep as the ocean,
And their misfortunes  as slight as its foam.

(Applause and three cheers for the grooms)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fridays With Frank: Granddad's Bachelor Party, Part One

Original Newspaper Clipping
about "bachelor party" in
Middlesboro, KY, 1905
"Thursday evening Mr. George Veal entertained a large number of gentlemen friends in his apartment in the Bellevue in honor of four members of 'de gang' who have shown decided symptoms of falling from grace and deviating from the straight and narrow way of single blessedness into the tortuous paths and winding trails of matrimony; to wit-- (in order of their defection)  Joe Ralston, who a few years ago announced his intention of remaining single until he had grown a moustache; Will Sampson, who was one of the last to be suspected of such fell designs; 'Doc' Heinrich, of whom we can only say, 'Who'd a thunk it!'; and Frank Lee, who, it is said, has been known to go around a block to keep from meeting a girl face to face."

This is how the article begins in the newspaper clipping I found in my granddad's files.  Sounds like a bachelors' party to me!  What really caught my attention when I read this article is the writer's description of my granddad's shyness:  he was "known to go around a block to keep from meeting a girl face to face."  This sounds SO much like my dad, Frank Welch Lee!  Family and friends often told me stories of how shy and reserved my dad was--and he remained a bachelor until he was 47 years old and eloped with my mom.  Like father, like son seems true in this case.

With this old newspaper clipping in Granddad's files, was a 13-page, typed transcription of the speeches given at the bachelors' party.  Really?  Yes, really. The transcript is titled as follows:

OCTOBER 19TH, 1905

Transcript of Bachelor Party Speeches
Middlesboro, KY,  October 19, 1905

Setting the tone for the evening, the "Toastmaster," Major E. S. Helburn, addresses the crowd:

Gentlemen & Friends:  There are times in the lives of all men when great things are expected of          them.  Most men walk through life with out seeing the good things, and others see the good things and pass them by; but there seem to be four gentlemen present tonight who have not only seen the good things, and have failed to pass them by, but have scooped them up and carried them off in glorious victory.

The speeches continue with each of the prospective grooms being toasted and with all applause noted parenthetically throughout the transcript.  My granddad was toasted by Mr. George Veal, who said this, among other things, about him:  "During the time he has been one of us, we have all grown to know him and like him for the qualities to which he can make claim. . . . We have envied him perhaps for his kindly personality, and his character, which we admire."  Mr. Veal also notes that Granddad will never drink to the toast:  "Here's to our wives and sweethearts; may they never meet."

The festivities will end with a poem written and read by Mr. Veal to my grandfather, who in response reads aloud a poem he has written for Mr. Veal.  I'll share these poems with you on my next Amanuensis Monday post.  Don't miss it!

Until then, I'll wish you a wonderful weekend and welcome any comments you have.  This transcript seems very unique to me.  Has anyone else run across something similar while researching family history?

Frank Lewis Lee during the waning days of his bachelorhood

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Elizabeth Rochester Lee's Wedding Band

What once must have been a shiny gold band, is dulled and scarred--and still beautiful.  Over 100 years old, this 14 karat gold wedding band was placed on my grandmother's finger by my grandfather on November 15, 1905, at their wedding in Danville, Kentucky.

Wedding band given to Elizabeth Rochester by Frank Lewis Lee
at their wedding in 1905

What a tiny, slender finger Grandmother must have had!  Her ring barely fits my pinkie!  But isn't it neat that my granddad and my parents saved it for me--and that I can actually have on my finger the ring this lovely lady wore for so many years.

 Engraved on the inside of the ring are the words Frank & Elizabeth Nov. 15 1905.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Snapshots of a Courtship

Frank Lewis Lee and Elizabeth Rochester
c. 1905

Frank Lewis Lee (left), Elizabeth Rochester (2nd from left), and chaperonesc. 1905 

Frank Lewis Lee and Elizabeth Rochester surrounded by chaperones, Elizabeth's cousins
c. 1905

Monday, February 4, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Wedding Announcement of Frank Lewis Lee and Elizabeth Welch Rochester

Elizabeth Welch Rochester
Wedding Portrait
Frank Lewis Lee
Wedding Portrait

This week's posts will focus on the courtship and marriage of my grandparents, Frank Lewis Lee and Elizabeth "Bettie" Welch Rochester.  For Amanuensis Monday, here's a transcription of the article describing  their November 15, 1905 wedding as it appeared in the Stanford (KY) Interior Journal of that week.
Wedding Announcement
Elizabeth Rochester & Frank L. Lee
Stanford KY Interior Journal
November 1905

ROCHESTER-LEE.--Miss Bettie Rochester, of this place, and Mr. Frank L. Lee, of Middlesboro, were married in the parlor of the Gilcher House, Danville, at 2:30 Wednesday afternoon, Rev. Gilbert Glass, of this place, performing the ceremony.  Mr. Welsh Rochester, brother of the bride, and Miss Mary Pennington, a cousin, accompanied them and stood with them during the ceremony.  Mrs. Hugh  Reid and Mr. John Owsley Reid, of this place, were also present.  The bride wore a traveling suit of blue, which was exceedingly becoming.  She is a pretty brunette, of amiable disposition and lovely character and is admired by all who know her.  Mr. Lee is well-known and well-liked here where he lived several years.  He is a fine young man in every way and a christian gentleman.  His friends here include all who have the pleasure of his acquaintance.  At 3 o'clock Mr. and Mrs. Lee took the train for Paris, where they will visit her sister, Mrs. G. W. Clark, and thence to La Grange to visit Mr. Lee's mother.  They will then go to Louisville for a few days, after which they will be at home to their friends at Middlesboro, where Mr. Lee has a splendid position.  That they may always be as happy as they are now is the wish of their hosts of friends including the Interior Journal.  Tuesday evening Mrs. Hugh Reid entertained most charmingly in her home the bridal party.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

An "Off the Cuff" Letter Home

In yesterday's post, I told you about my granddad's various jobs as a young pharmacist, one of which was a brief stint at Setchel Drugs Store in La Jolla, California.  When he and my grandmother decided to return home to Kentucky, Granddad sent a rather unique letter home to his father, Gilbert Lee, in La Grange.

Address and Postmark on Disposable Shirt Cuff
From Frank Lewis Lee to His Father, Gilbert Oliver Lee
Postmarked La Jolla, CA, 1908

The letter, you see, was written on a disposable men's shirt cuff.  Wait--a disposable cuff?  Yes, it seems this was sort of a fad during the late nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries.  According to Giles Slade in Made to Break:  Technology and Obsolescence in America, because doing laundry at this time was so labor intensive, clothes were often washed only once a week--sometimes less than that.  Shirt fronts, collars, and cuffs were the parts of the garment that were most visible and most likely to become stained or dirty.  Thus, detachable and sometimes disposable paper shirt parts were an easy, practical way for a gentleman to present a clean, proper appearance.

OK, so it's understandable that my grandfather would use these paper cuffs, but to write a letter on one and send it through the mail?  While this seemed to me a very unusual way to pen a letter, evidently this, too,  was a somewhat common practice back in Granddad's day.  Mark Liberman, in an article titled "The 'off the cuff' Mystery," says that the practice of writing quick, informal notes on paper cuffs was also a fad at the turn of the twentieth century.  This is where we get the phrase "off the cuff."

Letter Written on Disposable Shirt Cuff
From Frank Lewis Lee to His Father, Gilbert Oliver Lee
La Jolla, CA, 1908

The "letter" written on the back of the cuff is really a series of brief notes and jokes from my grandfather to his father.  The upper right corner notes the date and place the letter was written:

La Jolla Calif
Aug 21--1908

The body of the letter is written haphazardly across the cuff in four brief notes:

Dear Dad:
"Bill Baily" is coming home.  ha! ha!

Keep your shirt on until we arrive.

Shy of paper & have not worn a cuff in two years.

Leave here Sat. 29th
via Salt Lake & Chicago.
Due in La Grange about
Sept 3rd or 4th.  Will try
to phone you from Louisville
or write you later & will
possibly wire if we go by

The letter reads to me as if it was written by a young man who's happy and excited about coming home.  It is signed simply--F. Lee

One final, fun detail is Granddad's reference to Bill Baily coming home.  Most of you will probably know this is a reference to the old song, "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home."  A little research helped me find out that the song was written in 1902 by ragtime composer Hughie Cannon, and it became popular very quickly.  I remember my mom and my aunt singing this song to me when I was a little girl, and I also remember seeing Pearl Bailey perform it on television many years ago.  You might enjoy listening to this old, scratchy version as it was sung and recorded by Dan W. Quinn on April 23, 1902, in Philadelphia, PA.  Here's the link:  "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home," 1902


Giles Slade, Made to Break:  Technology and Obsolescence in America (ebook), Amazon, 2007

Mark Liberman, "The 'off the cuff' Mystery," Idioms, Language and Culture, August 16, 2012

"Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home," Hughie Cannon, 1902; recorded by Dan W. Quinn, April 23, 1902, Philadelphia, PA;  Library of Congress, Jukebox Collection

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fridays With Frank: Frank Lewis Lee Begins a Career

Frank Lewis Lee
In 1896 in La Grange, Kentucky, Frank Lewis Lee got his first paying job.  He worked doing odd jobs at McDowell Drug Store on Main Street, just a short walk from the Lee home.  He made $1.50 per week. Granddad soon worked his way up and became a clerk at the drug store, waiting on customers who came in for medicine or who stopped by the soda fountain for a treat.  He became very interested in both the business and the science involved in running the drug store, and thus began his quest to become a pharmacist and have his own drug store.

Frank L. Lee (standing on right)
In Front of McDowell Drug Store
La Grange, KY, c. 1900

Granddad passed the State Board of Pharmacy exam in 1902, and soon he was working at Penny's Drug Store in Stanford, Kentucky, earning $6 a week.  It was during his time here that he met his future wife and my grandmother, Elizabeth "Bettie" Welch Rochester.  Courting, engagement, and marriage in 1905 was the course for my grandparents.  (Much more about their love and marriage in next week's posts!)  Before they married, however, granddad moved to Middlesboro, Kentucky, and worked as a pharmacist in the H. H. Sprague Drug Store.

Newspaper Ad for Lee's Drug Store
Eminence, KY, 1907

After Frank and Elizabeth married, they began searching for the perfect place to call home.  Their first stop was Eminence, Kentucky, where Granddad opened his own drug store.  Despite a store on the main thoroughfare in downtown Eminence and advertisements in the local newspaper, Granddad sold his store here and the young couple set out for the west coast.

Letter of Recommendation for Frank L. Lee
Written by Pharmacist D. McDowell
La Grange, KY, 1908

Letter of Recommendation for Frank L. Lee
Written by Pharmacist G. L. Penny
Stanford, KY, 1908


In January of 1908, my grandparents traveled across the country and settled in La Jolla, California.  Armed with letters of recommendation from his former bosses, Granddad secured a job at Setchell Drug Store in La Jolla.

Frank L. Lee in front of Setchel Drug Store
La Jolla, CA, 1908

The stay in La Jolla , however, was short, and the couple returned to Kentucky in September 1908, settling in Middlesboro.  Granddad went back to work at H. H. Sprague Drug Store, bought the business  in 1910, and thus established Lee's Drug Store.  In 1913, he moved the business to Fountain Square in downtown Middlesboro.  He would own and operate Lee's Drug Store here until 1958 when he sold his interest in the business.

Please visit my blog again in the coming days so I can share with you a very unique letter my granddad wrote to his father to tell him he was coming home from California.  It's priceless!  Also, I'll be sharing some photos and details of my grandparent's courtship and wedding.

The source for some of the dates and details in today's post is the obituary of Frank L. Lee as it appeared in the Middlesboro Daily News, June 11, 1962, p. 1.