Uptown Chicago History Correspondent
About 1949, I was lucky enough to land a job at Gary's Payless Drug Store that was in Wilton Hotel, which was known earlier as the Viceroy Hotel and was situated on the S.W. corner of Lawrence and Kenmore, just kittycorner from the New Lawrence Hotel.
My friend Bobby Johnston was moving away and he recommended me to Gary the Pharmacist. The job was to keep the coolers filled with beer and pop, sweep up, take orders, and make deliveries. I remember they sold a lot of Rhiengold, Tavern Pale, Fox Deluxe beer, and Ballantine Ale.
Now, concerning the deliveries, it was illegal for a minor to handle or deliver alcohol. So, I had to carry $2.00 in my back pocket, and If I was stopped by the cops I was to tell them that "some guy" I never seen before gave me the two dollars to make the delivery.
I made a lot of deliveries in the area and the tips were pretty good, except when I delivered to the 910 Lawrence Building, they had a doorman who wouldn't let me inside; he would take the package up to the apartment, collect, then give me the proper change. He kept the tips.
One day I made a delivery and told the doorman that the customer had to sign for their prescription. He let me in, delivered the package, and told the customer that the doorman was taking the tips. I got a good tip and he got in trouble.
One day I was near the phone and no one was around. I took an order for a bottle of gin and some 7-up.
The customer told me to bring change for a twenty. I put the bottles in a bag, found Gary the druggist and explained the situation to him. He thanked me for being such a conciseness kid and I made the delivery and brought him the change.
One day, one of the older boys in the neighborhood wanted to know if I knew an old "Muskhead" that could get him some beer. I said sure, I can get you the beer, and I would even deliver it. Now, I could get 5 quarts of Prima Pilsner beer for a $ 1.25, a 5th of Guckenheimer whiskey was $1.98.
I would take orders from some friends I knew, making a modest markup, and life was good.
A Muskhead was a guy who only drank "Muscatel" or 'Muskiedoodle," as we called it those days. Those who drank Port wine were just plain old winos.There was always a couple of winos hanging out on the corner they could get us anything we wanted, for a price.
Well, I put them out of business.