I was thrilled to find some relics from downtown Danville’s history at a local antique show back in April.
The three old glass medicine bottles with cork stoppers once contained paregoric, oil of cinnamon and oil of cloves. What’s amazing to me is that as old as these bottles are, the clove and particularly the cinnamon scents are still noticeable.
Paregoric, which is derived from opium, was a common household remedy for diarrhea as well as an expectorant and cough suppressant.
All of the bottles bear labels from Frank A. Johnson, druggist, who operated his pharmacy at 18 E. Main St., Danville. That address is now part of the Towne Centre shopping center.
A check of the 1915 and 1918 Danville city directories shows Johnson’s pharmacy on East Main Street, as well as mentioning his wife Nettie and their residence at 709 N. Hazel St.
The “1911 History of Vermilion County” book also has an informative biography on Johnson.
Born to Swedish immigrant parents on Nov. 15, 1875, in Rockford, Johnson graduated from Northwestern University in 1898, worked at his uncle’s pharmacy in Iowa and two other drug businesses in Pecatonica and Princeton, Ill., before opening his own pharmacy in Danville on June 1, 1907.
The book passage also noted that the 18 E. Main St. address, where Johnson opened his business, had been the site of a pharmacy for more than 50 years.
During its 62 years, Colonial Parkway — which used to be at 840 E. Main St. — had many operators.
Back in the 1940s, the popular eatery was nicknamed “Greenie’s” after owner Clarence Green.
Danville native Judy Henk tells me that C.D. Green was her uncle who received a commendation for his service in the military from General Patton.
Henk said her cousins, Lois Jean Bottorff Pearson and Shirley Bottorff Cearing, who are sisters, both worked for “Uncle Greenie” when they were 14 or 15.
“They remember a big wooden box, and the ice cream had to be dug out and placed in cartons and then weighed,” Henk said. “He also sold Sealtest hand-dipped ice cream.
“The booths had individual juke boxes on the walls and business was always good — teenagers mostly,” she said.
Henk said her grandmother made the chili and pies for the restaurant.
Henk said she doesn’t believe Green owned the restaurant but rather rented the eatery from Leo Smith, who was listed as the owner in the 1941 and 1942 city directories.
Jane Millis of Danville said she, too, worked for Green at the restaurant during the summer of 1946.
“It was for only one summer and I was only 16,” she said. “We were like a family.
“Greenie had a big black convertible and he always took us home at night,” she recalled, adding that sometimes he took the workers out to eat at the end of the night. “He was a great boss.”
Millis said she will always have a soft spot in her heart for the eatery because that is also where she met her husband of 61 years.
Carol Roehm is the education reporter. Contact her at 477-5174 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.