Wall Drug Store – Photos Sep22

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Wall Drug Store – Photos

FREE ADMISSION to this 76,000 square foot “American Experience” includes the Backyard with its Branding Iron Arcade, animated T-Rex, panning & mining experience for fossils and gemstones, Train Station Water Show & fun picture-taking props in a picnic area.

It was on the way – we had to stop!

History of Ted and Dorothy Hustead and Wall Drug – Courtesy of Wall Drug

It was December 1931. Dorothy and I had just bought the only drugstore in a town called Wall on the edge of the South Dakota Badlands. We’d been open a few days, and business had been bad. I stood shivering on the wooden sidewalk.

In this little prairie town there were only 326 people, 326 poor people. Most of them were farmers who’d been wiped out either by the Depression or drought.

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Dorothy and I were excited about Wall, but when we got back home and told our families about the plan, we found them skeptical. “That town is in the middle of nowhere,” a cousin said, “and furthermore, everybody there is flat broke busted.” My father-in-law was understanding, but even he said, “You know, Wall is just about as Godforsaken as you can get.”

But Dorothy and I couldn’t give up on Wall, so our families agreed that we should all pray about the decision. Led by two of Dorothy’s aunts, who were Dominican nuns, we asked God’s guidance. In the end everyone felt that it was God’s will for us to go to Wall. But now that Dorothy and I were all alone here, we wondered if we’d heard God right.

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“Don’t worry,” said Dorothy. “We’ll make it go. And just think, Ted, pretty soon that monument at Mount Rushmore will be done, and then there will be an endless stream of people going by. I’m sure they’ll visit us!”

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One hot Sunday in July, though, a great change swept us up. It started quietly, in the deadening heat of an early afternoon, when Dorothy said to me, “You don’t need me here, Ted. I’m going to put Billy and the baby down for a nap and maybe take one myself.”

I minded the empty store. I swatted flies with a rolled-up newspaper. I stood in the door, and no matter where I looked, there was no shade, because the sun was so high and fierce.

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An hour later Dorothy came back.

“Too hot to sleep?” I asked.

“No, it wasn’t the heat that kept me awake,” Dorothy said. “It was all the cars going by on Route 16A. The jalopies just about shook the house to pieces.”

“That’s too bad,” I said.

“No, because you know what, Ted? I think I finally saw how we can get all those travelers to come to our store.”

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“What is it that those travelers really want after driving across that hot prairie? They’re thirsty. They want water. Ice cold water! Now we’ve got plenty of ice and water. Why don’t we put up signs on the highway telling people to come here for free ice water? Listen, I even made up a few lines for the sign:

“Get a soda . . . Get a root beer . . . turn next corner . . . Just as near . . . To Highway 16 & 14. . . Free Ice Water. . . Wall Drug.”

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The next weekend the boy and I went out to the highway and put up our signs for free ice water. I must admit that I felt somewhat silly doing it, but by the time I got back to the store, people had already begun showing up for their ice water. Dorothy was running all around to keep up. I pitched in alongside her.

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“Five glasses of ice water, please,” a father called out.

“May I have a glass for Grandma?” a boy asked. “She’s in the car.”

We ran through our supply of cracked ice. I began chiseling more off the block.

“Say, good sir,” one traveler said in a Scottish brogue, “we’re going all the way to Yellowstone Park. Would you mind filling this jug with your water?”

“Hey this free ice water is a great idea,” said a salesman, sidling up onto a stool. “How about selling me an ice cream cone?”

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For hours we poured gallons of ice water, made ice cream cones and gave highway directions. When the travelers started on their way again, refreshed and ready for new adventures, they gave us hearty thanks.

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Free Ice Water. It brought us Husteads a long way and it taught me my greatest lesson, and that’s that there’s absolutely no place on God’s earth that’s Godforsaken.

No matter where you live, you can succeed, because wherever you are, you can reach out to other people with something that they need!