Bill Canaday Retires After 68 Years Of Serving Friends
(Right) Bill Canaday is shown inside Four Oaks Drug in recent years.
(Below) In this undated photo, R.C. Canaday Sr. is show standing on the right. Photo courtesy The Johnston County Heritage Center
After a century of selling drugs, and milkshakes too, pharmacist M.S. “Bill” Canaday, owner of Four Oaks Drug Company on Main Street in Downtown Four Oaks has retired. His store officially closed on Wednesday. During the last few weeks of operation Kay Carroll, pharmacist with Carroll Pharmacy, had run the business while Canady was recovering from a recent illness.
Bill Canaday took over the Four Oaks Drug Company from his father in 1944. He had just graduated from the University of Chapel Hill’s Pharmacy School and was looking forward to his new career.
His father had graduated from the same program in Chapel Hill and purchased the business from a local doctor in the early 1900’s. Mr. Canaday said that back then, around 1918, there weren’t very many pharmacists.
“They graduate them in droves now, but during that time, there were doctors and then people with high IQ’s that would give out the pills,” he said with a chuckle.
His drug store stayed in the same location for over 100 years, serving the small town of Four Oaks. It remained as a full functioning time capsule of sorts, next to the big box retail chains that have all but taken over the business of prescription medicine since Mr. Canaday launched his career 68 years ago.
“These places like CVS and Walgreen’s, they’re wholesale houses, they have the business on both ends with the insurance cards and discounts,” he said.
Mr. Canaday said that he thinks his business stood the test of time because it was a fixture in the community and that he has always tried to extend a helping hand.
“You help people out. Back when I started, this town was all farmers, so I would give them credit. You had to want to do it and I’ve always tried to do my best,” he said.
Inside the tiny building in downtown, large wooden display cases adorn the walls; stretching from the pale green tile floor to the ceiling. A small booth sits in a corner, a perch for people to enjoy the many concoctions Mr. Canaday and other employees made at the soda fountain over the years.
The Bastian-Blessing Company soda fountain inside the drug store was installed in 1947 and remained in place for the next 65 years, serving many thirsty patrons and children that make their way through the store every week. Orange-aids, milkshakes, and lemonades were among the popular items patrons ordered.
A few years back, the old fountain brought in a set of visitors, a couple from across the Atlantic.
“This man and his wife from England came in one day and said they stopped by on their way to the beach. So I gave them one of our little papers with the history of the store on it and they said they just had to have a picture with me behind this fountain,” he said with a laugh.
No decision has been made on what might become of the drug store, which holds memories for thousands of people who have patronized the business over the years. (Dunn Daily Record contributed to this story)