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The signs lead to a drugstore and soda fountain three-quarters of a block long that has grown into an oasis of friendly commercial hurdy-gurdy in the middle of the sparse prairie. The Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota (population 800), 50 miles east of Rapid City, is a three-generation family business that this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. Its standing offer of free ice water, and coffee for 5 cents – as much as you can drink of both – helps attract as many as 20,000 customers on a busy summer day, maybe a million a year.
The whole improbable enterprise was started in the depths of the Depression by a 28-year-old Nebraska pharmacist named Ted Hustead. He had a $3,000 stake, a wife, a child of four, and the brass of a born capitalist. Now 78, with wire-rimmed trifocals, thin white hair and a deeply lined face, Ted looks like a kindly drugstore man out of Norman Rockwell. In earlier pictures, he looked more serious and resolute. “We weren’t trying to make it rich,” he recalls. “We were trying to make a living”.
The boots measure 6" tall by 3" wide.
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