Our great American imagination
CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18
And one morning in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, Andrew Nicholas and Natalie Butko are up early with their parents, Brian and Sarah.
BRIAN OK. Everybody ready?
RICK This family often uses unusual roadside attractions as good reasons for family vacations.
BRIAN This is the first time we’re starting six-thirty in the morning. Normally we try a little later, but we want to get some miles on the road just in case we find a good diner or somewhere where we want to spend some time. We hope to end up in Cave City, Kentucky, and it’s a long drive, lots to see and do and we hope to be there before sundown.
RICK Our goal was not to follow the Butkos but to catch up with them in Kentucky. They were going one way, and we wanted to check out an unusual drugstore along the way in Lexington, Kentucky.
ERIC Versailles Road, west of Lexington. You can’t miss us, big round white building with a ball on top.
RICK Eric Brewer now owns and manages this unusual round building.
ERIC This is Bondurant Pharmacy. We’re a retail pharmacy. The building is in the shape of a mortar and pestle which is what pharmacists have used forever to do compounding, to make the drugs that you would take or use.
RICK The place is named for the man who built it back in 1974.
ERIC Joe Bondurant had an idea. Years and years ago he went out to Vegas when it was relatively new and he loved it. And he thought, “There’s big ideas out here, and there’s people trying new things.” And he was a pharmacist already, he owned a pharmacy already. He had a dream and wanted to make, make it work.
RICK But Eric’s family was involved too.
ERIC My dad built the model of this place using an old Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket. You know, you can see it happening, and Joe liked it, and Joe and Nancy Bondurant came to Lexington and my dad helped out a little bit.
RICK Well, you’ve always been able to get chicken next door.
ERIC Colonel Sanders was over there kind of regular back in the seventies, and he would come over here and hang out, and he liked the building a lot. He thought it was a big hit. And it’s mainly wood, and it’s got a steel beam or two in it as well, but it’s mainly a wood building with some stucco on the outside. There was a joke early on, the carpenters building the thing joked, “Where do we put the cornerstone?” Good question.
RICK Eric also likes to think that this had the first (or a very early) two-window drive-up configuration.
ERIC Well, this window I’m at is the drop-off window, and then you just pull around to the other side, and we’ll get right to work, fill it and send it out the other window. Should take five or ten minutes. When they built it, drive-through system, first in Lexington, before McDonald’s or anybody else, way ahead of its time.Inside here we have a Triever system. It’s a mechanized vertical inventory system where we’re able to keep a large amount of drugs in a small space, comes in handy in this building. Not too many independents go into business and stay, but we hang in there. It’s mostly because we’re so efficient because we’re so, so good at what we do. I mean as a design, it’s very functional. Architects would be thrilled to have form and function follow as well as this does.
Sometimes driving into work, I’m at the red light, turning in you know, and I just, I like it. I smile. It makes you feel good. That’s my store.