A kid growing up in the Toledo’s Old Orchard neighborhood – and probably a wider area – in the 60s and 70s could find no better place in the world than Kenwood Pharmacy. There are no doubt a lot of adults who remember it too, almost 25 years after it closed.
The Ace Drugs down on Bancroft by the University of Toledo couldn’t touch it (I know this because I always got my haircut next door at Campus Barbers). When I moved from the neighborhood, I still came back to Kenwood, since Kenwood had it all. It was at Central and Alisdale in the Kenwood Shopping Center, the shopping center with a Food Town, an A&P (at one time, anyway), and the Sanger branch library. There was another Kenwood up on Alexis Road, but I never set foot in there.
I dropped a lot of my allowance at Kenwood. It was a short walk/bike ride from my house, and everything a kid under 10 needed, they had. Candy. Mad Magazines. Wacky Packages. Newspapers and (more importantly) Racing Forms. Kenwood Pharmacy got the first video game I ever saw: Pong!. There was a lunch counter along the east wall for the longest time. I never ate there, but it was apparent a lot of the old Jewish people living in Kenwood Gardens did. It was part meeting place, part grocery, part local hangout.
And lording over all of it, a major presence in the store, was Max Schwartz. According to the 2006 obituary of Max’s wife, Mildred (Miss Mildred):
In 1947 she and her husband opened Schwartz Drugs at Fulton and Delaware. Starting in the 1950s she started and operated gift shops in the three branches of Kenwood Pharmacy that they owned. Mildred and Max Schwartz were well known to many customers who frequented the popular store at Central and Alisdale in West Toledo.
Kenwood Pharmacy disappeared in the early 1980s when the stores were sold to Rite-Aid. It was a Rite-Aid for a while, and while there is a Powerhouse Gym at 2715 W. Central these days, the whole shopping center is an echo from the past anyway. The Schwartzes retired to Florida. Max died in 1994.
Just as a footnote, I found this item from December 7, 1958 particularly amusing for some reason:
Oh my gosh! A game of chance! Kenwood eventually did get its license; I can remember a Miller High Life sign in the front window.
This ad from November 26, 1970 not only shows Max and Miss Mildred, but the front of the store in blurry black-and-white. I’d kill for an actual picture. Kenwood Pharmacy is the kind of place I wish were still open so I could go back there and step back in time, however briefly.