SERVING UP NOSTALGIA AT ITS BEST — Pete McKeone stands in front of the unique Soda Fountain inside Olson’s Drug. Aside from a distinctive Soda Fountain, they offer full pharmacy service, gifts and excellent service. I-O Photo by Tirsea McNeal
By Tirsea McNeal, I-O Reporter
Olson’s Drug is a unique drugstore. It has nostalgia and is part of Conrad’s history.
Pete and Glenda McKeone are the current owners who brought the business from Harold Olson in 1989. Olson had combined Drakes Drug and Pondera Drug into what is the current business. Frank Fooshee sold the old Pondera Drug to Olson.
Pete McKeone said, “We have seen pictures of the current soda fountain in a 1918 photo, at that time it was on the south side of 4th Ave. in the building that was last known as the Dollar Store.”
Olson’s soda fountain serves up malts, sodas and ice-cream cones. They also sell a warm cup of coffee to customers who just want a comfortable spot to sit and sip.
The soda fountain may not be as popular in the winter, but very popular when the sun is bright and temperatures start to climb. It’s a unique spot in the community and people enjoy the wistful feel.
Jean Barringer, an Eastern Star member, said their group gathered at the Olson’s Soda Fountain for a special social event. “I found out that April 24 is Soda Fountain Day and we just decided to go to Olson’s to celebrate.” She added, “There aren’t many real soda fountains around anymore.”
On April 24, 1833, two inventors, Jacob Ebert and George Dulty, received a patent for the first soda fountain. Soda fountains became very popular hang-outs for young folks, and were often located in or near pharmacies. At Olson’s Drug, the Soda Fountain is a great place for having meetings for all ages.
While it’s true there are not many soda fountains around anymore,, the ones that remain are very potent symbols of nostalgia.
Olson’s Drug also serves as a gift store and always has the little something for that special someone including a large array of gift cards.
Their pharmacy is probably the busiest in the morning with prescription pick-ups and questions being fielded regarding a selection of over the counter medicines.
Olson’s hires a small staff with Pete McKeone being pharmacist getting help from Scott O’Brien, pharmacist and Debra Layton, Pharmacy Technician. Also on staff are Arlene Leys and Denise Elings who handles bookkeeping and is also a pharmacy technician and Brianne Winfield.
Pete and Glenda McKeone chose to live and work in Conrad to be close to family. Pete McKeone said, “We looked for a drug store for sale within a 120 mile radius of Fort Benton or Omaha. We were lucky and picked Olson’s Drug; it has been a good fit for us.”