Soda Fountains trace their history to pharmacies when most medicines were dispensed as liquids. Carbonation and flavorings were used to mask the bitter and awful taste of these concoctions. Pharmacists manned the fountains in the early years as skill was required to get the proper mix of flavored syrups and carbonation and also because many of the early mixes did contain drugs to soothe the nerves, relieve the pain or to serve other medicinal purposes. In 1911, over 100,000 soda fountains sprang up in the United States and during prohibition the soda fountain replaced the bar as a social gathering spot in towns and neighborhoods. Soon the Soda Fountain became the place to get a tasty treat while catching up on the latest news around town.
Delphos boasted at least two soda fountains, one at Remlinger Rexall Drug Store and one at King and Stallkamp (later just Stallkamp) Drug Store. Many soda fountains added lunch counters with sandwiches and ice cream treats but not so with the two original fountains in Delphos. The “Palace”, which served ice cream, was also located on Main St. as were many other small restaurants. By the 50’s soda fountains became gathering places for teens on their way home from school. In fact, rowdy teens caused the demise of the fountain at Stallkamp Drug. Bill Remlinger recalls in an article for the Delphos Herald that he met his future wife Helen when she stopped by the soda fountain on her lunch break. When Stallkamp Drugs moved from the corner to the middle of the block around 1961, a local carpenter, Hiram Runyan, custom built the new soda fountain counter and booths style seats for the new location. Although Stallkamp’s closed their fountain services in the mid- sixties, Remlinger’s was still offering cherry cokes in the late 60’s. Part of the counter and booth from Stallkamp’s are on display at the Delphos Canal Museum along with many artifacts from the Remlinger Drug Store operation.
The soda fountain was phased out when cars and drive-through restaurants became popular. Sodas were then available in bottles from carry-outs and at the grocery. Delphos still had the Dairy Queen and the Dairy Whip, along with the Chew Chew, The Equity and Reno’s Cozy Confectionary to serve “soft drinks” to those who still walked around town. Today, the local men drive to Jim’s, Baked to Perfection, The Grind, Pat’s Donuts, McDonalds and Arby’s to solve the world’s problems over coffee and breakfast.
The Delphos Canal Museum, located on Main Street, is open on Thursday from 9am until noon, Saturday and Sunday from 1-3pm and also by appointment.
Printed in the Delphos Herald March 14, 2015