Silver’s Drug Shop
By Dan Shine
November 29, 1927
On a handwritten greeting card:
“Dear Baby Philip H. Gesner,
There is one pleasure we big fellows never pass by, and that is to extend a happy greeting to the new babies that come to stay with our friends in town. To you, Baby Dear, we extend the glad neighborly hand of welcome. May your coming to West Haven herald much health and joy to you and the dear ones you have blessed by your choice of Mother and Dad. This is the sincere greeting offered you with all good wishes by
Silver’s Drug Shop”
It is impressive to note that many letters like this one went out to many West Haven babies over the many years. This was Bill Silver’s idea, and it was an effective way of drawing Silver’s closer to the community that he loved.
It was in 1941 that son Edward Silver turned 16 and went to work for his father. He worked at the soda fountain and made deliveries on a bicycle. From time to time, father would spot son leaning on the counter; he would tell him, “Time to lean is time to clean,” and he would hand him a broom.
Edward worked there for about a year while he was going to college, for he had graduated early from high school. When war broke out, he enlisted and became a pharmacist’s mate in the US Navy, serving in San Francisco, Seattle, and finally the Aleutian Islands, off of Alaska.
When the war was over, Edward returned home by train, and Bill picked him up at Union Station in New Haven. When they met, Edward was startled to see a red splotch on his father’s forehead. Later, Edward’s uncle explained that Bill had lupus, and didn’t have long to live. It was further pointed out that Edward would need to prepare to take over the leadership of the family business, so that it might be sustained when his father was no longer there to run it. Of course, this meant that Edward would first need to become a pharmacist.
He went back to the Connecticut College of Pharmacy, which was soon made part of University of Connecticut, and he graduated in 1949. Thereafter Edward took over for Bill little by little, for his father’s general health was now on the decline. By 1952, Bill was fully incapacitated, and Edward was running the drug shop.
In many ways, Edward’s appearance, demeanor and business philosophy had been shaped by his father. When he took over, he called the employees together and explained his philosophy, which amounted to a cohesive team, a pleasant work environment and a paternal management. Pensions were instituted for full time employees. Silver’s was a bustling business in the center of West Haven’s business corridor. The workers took pride in their work and their store; and everyone knew that the customer came first.
Finally, Bill passed away in 1955, and all of his beloved West Haven mourned him, both the high and the humble.
To be continued.