Miller’s Pharmacy has occupied its current location on the corner of the town square in Cooper Texas since some time in the 1930’s. Still operated by the Miller family and still largely the same as it was years ago. Miller’s, and much of the town square in Cooper, apparently changed very little in the past several decades. Like many other small Texas towns: a victim of rural flight. Thanks to a dearth of progress in Cooper Texas, Miller’s is an amazingly authentic 1930’s soda shop.
Amber Pompa wrote a great article about Mabel Wheat and Miller’s Pharmacy for the Greenville Herald Banner. Amber did a wonderful job of telling the story of Mabel Wheat as well as the history of Miller’s Pharmacy. She also captured, sometimes within quotes and sometimes without, an interesting regional dialect Mrs. Wheat favors. I’d noticed Mrs. Wheat’s unique way of saying things, and I thought it was wonderful to encounter someone so intimately linked to the region they herald from. Many people today, myself included, move around or travel and communicate with people from different regions of America to the extent that we have no discernible dialect. We speak English in a sort of bland homogenized national-speak. Mrs Wheat, bless her, has lived her whole long life in Cooper Texas and you can sense that when she speaks.
Really there are two stories here: Miller’s and Mabel Wheat. Mabel Wheat began working at Miller’s in 1951 after her two boys had “grown up enough.” An absolute expert at her craft, there’s a certain majesty about her as she works. Mabel Wheat’s real story is more about putting down roots and becoming part of a community than the chocolate sodas she’s so proficient at making. Her regular customers enjoy her company. Casual conversation comes easy at Miller’s.
Miller’s Pharmacy is an amazing example of an old time pharmacy and soda fountain. The store fixtures and decorations all look to be from a different era. The soda fountain, the counter with black marble counter top, the back counter with mirror, the tile floor, the soda-shop tables, many of the old fixtures and tools used at the fountain; they are all original and quite old. As a matter of full disclosure, a very long time ago I worked for a company that manufactured ice cream and serviced fountain equipment. I saw equipment and tools at Miller’s that I’m very sure haven’t been available for at least 50 years, or more. They also have a freezer and make their own ice cream.
The pharmacy part of the business was closed a while ago, but much of the pharmacy counter, displays and sundry items that populated a drug store years ago still remain. There’s a wall of old photos, and plenty of memorabilia on the walls and in the display cases.
This place is a jewel.
On the town square
100 E Dallas Ave
Cooper, Texas 75432
Copyright © 2009 by Sam Fenstermacher
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