Probably, the earliest soda fountain in Wellington was in The Confectionery that billed itself as a Ladies Ice Cream Parlor. It was in a frame building on the south side of the square and owned by N. R. Cocke. The white marble soda fountain now in Collingsworth County Museum was located also on the south side of the square in the O’Neil Building, which was the first brick business building in Wellington. Will Chapman and his wife Mollie operated the Chapman Confectionery until his death in 1961 after which Mollie continued only the gift shop. The confectionery became popular when prohibition forced Americans to seek an alternative social drink.
Mr. T. E. Benge, manager of the Palace Drug Store, who started as a “soda-skeet” in 1907 wrote about the early days when the confectionaries handled the various items that by 1934 had become a part of the drug store. He said that we would be surprised at the number of milk shakes our forefathers could consume on Saturday when they came to town!
The Liquid Carbonic Company soda fountain located in the Collingsworth County Museum was first in the Chapman Confectionery and stayed in the O’Neil building during its occupancy by the Cecil Browning Shoe Shop until 1995 when it was brought to the Museum.
Two wrought iron chairs (one chair seats two and the other only one) in the Museum’s collection came from the Ritz Confectionery operated by Lois Templeton. This popular ice cream shop of the Twenties and Thirties was just south of the Ritz Theatre box office.
Also in the drug store exhibit is a soda fountain table and chairs group that once was in the Pruden Drug Store. The three chairs and round marble-top table were manufactured by the Frank Reider & Sons Co. in the 1920s as the Seatmore Ice Cream and Soda Sets. Fleet Pruden, a registered pharmacist, and his wife Etha opened the Pruden Drug Store on the east side of the square in l928 and operated it until l980. Pruden Drug’s soda fountain had curb service with car hops until 1960.
In the Soda Fountain exhibit are three bar stools from the Pruden Drug Store and one stool from Appreciative Cal’s Service Station, Grocery Store, and School Store. Cal’s, located across the street from Wellington High School, was a popular lunch spot for students between 1934 and 1946.
Wellington has had several drug stores over the years including the Palace Drug, Parsons Drug, C&H Pharmacy, O’Neil and Hardy Drug Store, Joe Hardy Drug Co., Brooks Drug, City Drug, Cochran Drug, and Pruden Drug. Most of them carried cosmetics and gift shop items. More than one of these had a coffee klatch where people came together to share a cup of coffee and get the morning news!