Zephyrhills 100th Anniversary: Neukom’s Drug Store

By , 2 February, 2010, 2 Comments
Neukom's Drug Store

Neukom's Drug Store

Early in Zephyrhills history, a tradition was born: Neukom’s Drug Store and its unique culture! George Neukom said in a May 15, 2000 St. Petersburg Times interview that his grandmother started the drugstore in 1921. Lorena Mae Leatherman Neukom, affectionately called “Neukie,” opened the store with her husband, Charles. She made several business moves from one corner of the block to another and in 1935 built the brick building that became the permanent location until it closed in 2001.

Neukie was an active member of the staff until age 93 — doing payroll, buying merchandise and keeping the books. She personally picked out all of the merchandise items.

Jon Ferguson, a ZHS grad of 1951, gave us more details.

“I can remember during my senior year at Zephyrhills High School when I was a soda jerk there, folks would come in and ask for Coke syrup for certain cures. I wouldn’t trade my experience there for anything. The drug store was a “hang out” for teenagers after school and after movies. My brother-in-law, Fred Gill, had a key to Neukom’s and he would often open early, make coffee and meet with the early coffee drinkers and play a game called “Scratch.” I never really understood how it worked, but it determined who was paying for the coffee that day.”

When the St. Petersburg Times reported on the closing of Neukom’s Drug Store in 2001, a regular at the time, Gordon Winters, then 88 and a 30-year veteran of the morning coffee ritual said that Neukom’s and the Scratch game were a part of Zephyrhills history…a lot of memories there.

Clereen and I collected a few of the memories to share with The Zephyrhills News readers:


The Scratch Game brought local politicians, businessmen and other movers and shakers for decades to the corner Neukom’s health food store. The Scratch Game ritual began in 1938, when George Neukom’s grandfather, Charles, invited a couple of his pals for Coca-Cola at the drugstore soda fountain. The local dentist, Dr. B.A. Thomas, became a regular, along with the filling station owner and the city clerk.

Each man chose a number between one and 20. Then one final card printed with those numbers was passed around. Each man scratched out a number other than his own. The person whose number remained unscratched at the end of the game paid for everyone’s coffee.


“We got a hot dog and a coke for 25 cent.  My mother worked there so I had to try and behave.  There was a juke box for music,” said Phyllis (Geiger) Locke-Debien

Christine (Krusen) Douglas remembers when she would go over to Neukom’s and order a vanilla cake,

“In high school, we went there almost every afternoon to purchase a 5 cent Cherry Coke. I remember the waitress… she was very patient,” said Lynn (Nichols) Timmons

“Visions of comic books, perfume, gifts, lime freeze, limeade without sugar syrup come to mind,” said Diane (Clements) Vilas

“It was the only drug store in town with the best little soda fountain,” said Rose (Potwin) McCarter

“It was always a treat to go to Neukom’s and get a fountain coke then you could go down the street to Elsie’s 5 & 10 and buy something,” said Melody (Wheeler) Williford

“It was a great place for a bowl of soup,” said Sharon (Geiger) Reeves

“Can you believe ice cream cones for a dime—too good to be true,” said Laura (Heller) Woodham


Son, George Neukom II, said that his first remembrance of his wife, Ann (Smith) Neukom was at the store when she came to sell an advertisement for the ZHS annual called the Zephilsco.


“Neukom’s was the center of downtown and one source for shopping for gifts as well as health and other products,” said Caroline Marlette, ZHS Teacher, retired

“I remember that my mother purchased a broach every year for my grandmother’s birthday from the jewelry counter at Neukom’s,” said Maria Spoto


“My granddaddy would go there to have coffee with his friends while my granny got prescriptions filled there, too,” said Suzie (Hill) Pippin


“When I was 5 years old, the Neukom’s sponsored me & a friend to ride in a wagon for the town’s Easter Parade,” said Clereen (Morrill) Brunty

“Whatever you needed, Neukom’s had it.  I loved to hear the elder Mrs. (Neukie) Neukom talk,” said Benny Smith.

Countdown to Centennial

Countdown to Centennial
By Madonna Jervis Wise and Clereen Morrill Brunty of the 100th Anniversary Committee, ZHS. Article originally appeared in the Zephyrhills News on July 23, 2009.

All rights reserved. Photos © Madonna Jervis Wise

2 Responses {#}
  • Billy Lowe

    Wish I could go back to that time. As for the scratch game…It is alive and well at Barb’s in Zephyrhills. Incidently, George Neukom is a participant nearly every morning.

  • Sandra Pricher

    Neukom’s drug store is one of the fondest memories of growing up in Zephyrhills. We went every Sunday night after church to have lime freezes – they were the best. Neukie and Jerry had the same birthday. One year she told him he could have anything in the store and he got a coloring book!

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