Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lascoff Drugs

At 82nd and Lexington, you'll find a throwback drug store that is so old school it feels magical. Or, as one blogger describes it, inside the store you feel like you're in The Wizard of Oz, when the drab B&W is replaced by the electric kool-aid technicolor. 

Except Lascoff Drugs makes it plain that this world--one replete with CVS, Walgreen's, and Duane Reade--is the drabster.

History: J. Leon Lascoff (1867-1943) immigrated from Russia (now Poland) in 1892 and seven years later opened an apothecary in a brownstone across the street from the store's present location. 

Lascoff Drugs is the real deal: wooden cabinets filled with stuff like Verbascum. There's also apothecary jars from back when Lascoff moved into the present location. It's amazing stuff.

The northern side of the store has a great window display highlighting Lascoff's history (see video below).

Interior shot:

My impression of old timey drug stores is one filled with soda fountains, jukeboxes, dudes wearing aprons, and dreamboaty nostalgia stuff. Lascoff Drugs wasn't like that. Lascoff was all about the chemicals and biologicals. No food. No funny business. There's still a sign behind the counter that reads "Silence Assures Accuracy."

Throwback crockery:

Oh, and say it was 1920 and you needed a leech by 2 o'clock in the afternoon? Call Lascoff. He had them. The place was good enough for Salvador Dali. In fact, Lascoff was Dali's personal leech man. Dali would pop in every now and then for his ration. He used them as models. No joke.

In my neighborhood, there's a nice little corner pharmacy. I feel lucky to have this. I see the same folks in there. The same counter girls, the same pharmacists in the back. They're nice. They're efficient. They know their customers' names. Not far away, there are two CVS pharmacies--right across the street from each other, exemplifying the corporate growth model.

[Note: Color photographs above (except for interior and crockery shots) were taken by my wife, Jessenia Rivera Cagle. Blame me for the videos.]

1 comment:

  1. J Leon Lascoff was my great uncle and I have fond memories of visiting the store in my youth and most recently in 2000, when the Ragusa's owned it. They still had a display of early prescriptions from around the world and J Leon's patent for an early machine that made gelatin capsules. My grandfather was the patent attorney. I saw the jar of leeches and was told by uncle Fritz, J Leon's son, Frederick D Lascoff, a pharmacy icon in his own right, that there was a nearby convent where the nuns used leeches to treat ailments.