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Sutton's Drug Store - Quintessential Chapel Hill

by Charly Mann


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Terry B      10:40 AM Mon 8/15/2011

Class of 72. I worked at Foister's Camera for over two years, for long time manager/owner William Harrison, who passed not long ago. But I especially loved Suttons. Every morning before going to work at Foister's, before the store was open to the public, the downtown workers would tap on the window. Someone from the counter in the back would get up and come to the front, unlock the door, and let you in. You locked the door behind you. You could go to the lunch counter and get a hot breakfast before heading off to work. I seriously doubt they do that anymore

Flora Houk Parrish      1:12 PM Wed 4/28/2010

First, Willie Mae Houk, my Mom was the best. She was born and raised right here in Chapel Hill. My Dad , John was from Pennsylvania. He meet my Mom while station at Camp Butner during WWII. They only new each other a short time before they married and he was off to fight the war. He returned to Chapel Hill in November of 1945 and I was born the following year. Mom did start to work at Suttons in the Late 50&#39;s working for<br \>Mrs. Suttons. She worked there for over 30 years. Before working at Sutton&#39;s , she worked at the Carolina Inn when she was in high school, she also worked at Brady&#39;s. She loved everyone and believed if you could not find something good to say about someone you said nothing at all. Alittle more history about her, she was raised by an Aunt and Uncle Nina and Lem (Pop) Carson. Pop drove a delivery truck for Fowler&#39;s Food for over 40 years. Her grandparents were Sparrow&#39;s. So as you can see there are years of family ties in Chapel Hill. Also someone mentioned green booths added in the late 50&#39;s , No I don&#39;t think the booths were added until the current other took over. I worked at Sutton&#39;s from June 1964 until Oct 1969<br \>and there were no booth. It was a true drug store with a fountain, cosmetics, tobacco, health items, etc. I came to work at the Chapel Hill Police Department in October 1969 and I am still there. I also am a avid Carolina Fan. I feel very blessed growing up in Chapel Hill and having Willie Mae as my Mom, and John (Curly) for my Dad. My the way my dad was bald and proud of it. Let me know forget my Wonderful Uncle Chuck . He worked for Chapel Hill Cleaners for over 20 years. <br \><br \>Sutton&#39;s still makes wonderful orangeade , hamburger and hotdogs.

Lisa Waldo      3:22 PM Mon 12/21/2009

We are in post-production at UNC-TV on a WWII documentary and looking for WWII era photographs of Sutton&#39;s Drugstore. Thanks for your help.<br \><br \>lw

Debi Jacobs      9:43 AM Sun 12/6/2009

Suttons! I used to get an egg sandwich and a cherry coke there almost every morning on my way to work at the Shrunken Head, or the Fireside, or Miltons. Chapel Hill was a great place in the early 70&#39;s!

sue w      4:49 PM Sun 9/27/2009

Great photos. I spent many afternoons in Suttons in the 50&#39;s &amp; early 60&#39;s. They had the best sodas...even better than Sloans. When you ordered a hamburger they put the coleslaw right on the hamburger. Glad it&#39;s still there!

Robert      11:13 PM Tue 9/8/2009

Willie Mae was married to John Houk who was a painter in CH and at UNC and they were avid Carolina fans! their oldest daughter, Flora Parrish has been working at the CH Police Dept for 35+ years and has worked for the Town of CH longer than any other current Town employee! John&#39;s brother Chuck lived with them in an old farm house on Weaver Dairy Road and I&#39;ve many wonderful memories of going to their house at Christmas time to see the thousands of lights and displays they put out in their yard and throughout the house. Willie Mae and John had a collection of Santas that she put out every year in Sutton&#39;s, a tradition that still continues I think. I believe they all came here from Pennsylvania back in the &#39;50&#39;s. They were a very kind and giving family and Willie Mae was definitely the sweetest person you could ever know. Which was a good thing since she shared the space behind the counter with Mrs. Durham, who was the exact opposite! The next time you go in, look behind the counter and hanging on the wall is a commeneritive plaque that contains her actually fry pan that they retired when she died. Long the memory of the Willie Mae, John, and Chuck; good people!

Susan Mayberry      4:56 PM Tue 9/8/2009

To me Willie Mae Houk who was the main cook and made the best drinks at the soda fountain was Sutton&#39;s. She was always there from the time I was small in the early 1960s through the 1970s. I think she started there in the 1950s. Does anyone know more about her life story?

TarBaby      11:09 AM Tue 9/8/2009

Sutton&#39;s has the best hot dogs in Chapel Hill, and that is what has made me a loyal customer since 1977.

PJ      9:04 PM Mon 9/7/2009

That chocolate coke sounds intriguing. Does Sutton&#39;s still make them?

Eric Bruce      3:36 PM Mon 9/7/2009

Thanks for providing all these great memories of my favorite place on earth, Chapel Hill.

Paul Mason      6:59 PM Sun 9/6/2009

Sutton&#39;s is my first stop each time I return to Chapel Hill. When I was at UNC in the 1980&#39;s I had lunch there at least once a week.

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Bite Sized Facts Link for Useful facts, financial success, universal truths, and great health info

Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.



What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt



Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".



Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies


We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.





There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.



The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.





The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.





William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.



The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.



Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.



Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.



The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.



Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.



Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.



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