For all kids who grew up in Manchester anytime over the past 62 years, Cope Pharmacy wasn’t just a special place.
It was, in fact, a destination. There wasn’t anything like it in the community.
No doubt, for It had everything a kid could want.
There were baseball cards.
I could walk right now into that store, a brick building on top of a little rise near the intersection of West Nimisila and Manchester roads, and point to the exact spot where the cards were located, on a white metal shelf just below, and slightly to the left, of the cash register by the south door.
The cards were just to the right of a large array of candy -- more candy than any of us had ever seen before. It seemed that any type of candy that had ever been made was displayed there. There were so many choices that it was hard to make a decision. After all, you had only so much money, and part of it was already going toward the purchase of several packs of cards at a nickel apiece.
As such, then, you had to pick the candy you really, really wanted – above all the other ones. The other choices you couldn’t afford to buy in this trip would be there waiting for you on your next visit.
And there would certainly be a next visit – perhaps even the next day.
The magazines were on a rack that was perpendicular to the candy display. On the right portion of that rack were the sports magazines. This time of year, the baseball preview magazines were just arriving. You hunted through them until you found the big, thick Street & Smith’s yearbook – the Bible of the baseball prospectus publications. It cost a little more, maybe $1.25, but it was well worth it.
There was so much there to read that it might be until Game 2 of the World Series in the fall – nearly eight months later – before you got through all of it. By that time, you could check and see if they got it right for their predictions for the Cleveland Indians, the only team you really cared about.
At the other end of the store, toward the place where prescriptions were filled, were the men’s colognes and women’s perfumes. It was a big deal for a young guy to finally be old enough to start perusing, and using, those products so we could smell good. But which one? Ah, that was the question, and it was fun trying to answer it.
It all was part of the rite of growing up.
Not more than about 15 feet away was the famous Cope soda fountain, where you could order a strawberry milkshake so thick that you practically needed a plunger to get it up through the straw.
It was just short of 40 years ago, in my first foray with The Suburbanite, that I went to the soda fountain, one of the last two remaining in Summit County at the time, with Photo Editor Lynn Stamp and did a big, front-page feature story of stepping back into time by sitting on a stool and sipping a milkshake. They framed the story and had it hanging on the back wall of the fountain area for years, right next to the framed commemorations to Manchester High School’s various sports accomplishments.
Lynn knew a great story when she saw one, and, when she heard about it, she made sure we made a visit to Cope’s a priority. I don’t know how well I told it, but it sure was story worth telling again and again and again.
I don’t know if I told that story very well this time, either. You just had to see Cope’s – to take it all in yourself – to get the real flavor of the place, no pun intended.
I could go on and on here, but I won’t. I can’t. The pages of the book are all filled up. There’s no more room left to write.
Sadly so, numbingly so, the trips to Cope’s have ended for kids – and everybody else, for that matter – because the place, which opened way back in 1956, not really that long after Manchester Road had been paved, and when the Sorricks still delivered eggs from their farm on Center Road to homes all throughout the Manchester community, closed its doors for good at the end of business on Tuesday.
Just like that, a really cool – really, truly important – era covering three generations, is over.
But not the memories, not by any stretch of the imagination. They will remain open in our hearts, minds and souls as long as we let them.
And those of us who knew Cope’s – and there are lots and lots and lots of those people – will certainly let them, for they will always bring a smile.
Just like flipping through baseball cards, reading Street & Smith’s baseball preview publications, chomping down Hershey bars, slapping on fragrant cologne and devouring ice cream treats, there is never a bad time for a smile.