McCarthy’s was the place to be


Ruth and Bill McCarthy were part of the Marysville High School class of 1949, but they first met when they both worked at Wolgamot and Orahood Drug Store, located on the southwest corner of Fifth and Main Streets. A driving school is located there today. Ruth actually helped Bill get his high school job there and thus he decided to be a pharmacist.
Ruth had been working in the evenings at Butler’s Restaurant and met Mariah and Bill (Doc) Wolgamot there. She didn’t like working at night because she had to walk home. Usually she ran all the way to her house on Milford Ave. The Wolgamots offered her an afternoon job at their drug store and 10 cents more an hour that made her pay, in 1947, 40 cents an hour. With those earnings Ruth, could buy all her school clothes, class ring, etc.
Bill went to work at the drug store as the morning person. That meant he came in at 7 a.m. and fired up the furnace with coal and emptied the trash, all before school. It was 1948 and he was a senior in high school. He lived just a block away above 111 E. 5th St. His parents owned the bar downstairs. “It was convenient to live downtown in those days,” Bill said. “There were four groceries, doctor’s offices, drug stores, plus clothing and shoe stores,” he said. “Who really needed a car?” He added, “In those years most people in town lived within about four blocks of the corner of Main and Fifth Streets.”
Bill remembers that on Saturday night people from the country would come into town to do their shopping. The women would go to the grocery and the men to the bar or maybe even to one of the two downtown movie theaters. (Sure wish we had even one now.)
Butler’s was the big meeting place for students after school and on weekends. It was located in the former Casa Fiesta building, now a vacant lot on W. Fifth St. In one room there was a jukebox and a place for dancing and in an adjoining room, the restaurant. Bill was a member of the high school band and he said on the evenings of Friday night football, the band would march into Butler’s, play a little bit and march right on out the other door – it was tradition. In the 1940s, the football field was located in the infield of the fairgrounds.
So when Bill and Ruth first started to work at the drug store it was located at the corner of Fifth and Main. In 1949, Nelson Weiss bought the building and was going to raise the rent so Mr. Wolgamot and Mr. Orahood decided to move across the street. Their first stop was 110 S. Main, now a law office. Eventually they moved next door to the current site of a paint store.
With the experience he gained at the drug store, Bill was then off to Ohio Northern University to study pharmacy. He and Ruth began to date and married in 1952. Bill graduated in the spring of 1953 and came back to Marysville to join the men who had encouraged him.
Wolgamot eventually sold his share of the business to Bill Orahood, who later sold his interest to McCarthy. The drug store was the place to be. It was the center and hub for the downtown area, especially in the mornings. A now-famous bench was available for those waiting while prescriptions were filled. Bill reports both Dwight and Hubert Scott, sons of O. M. Scott, and Dana Morey (a wing of Memorial Hospital was named for him) were regulars on that bench. The McCarthys still have it today.
A big name-brand (Bastion Blessing) state-of-the-art fountain was installed for serving sodas, sundaes and fancy carbonated drinks. Today, part of that fountain is located in a display of yesteryear at COSI in Columbus. They even hired Tony and Kathryn Butler, who had sold their restaurant, to bring in the crowds. Tony was known as a character and someone everyone enjoyed talking to. When students would come back from college or others from the armed services, they would often go right into the drug store to see Tony. The Butlers were hired just to get things started at the fountain, but stayed until they died in the 1960s.
More next week about five-cent coffee!
(Melanie Behrens –

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