Botica Guerra

When I was living on Laredo Street, the place to go for normal ailments was the corner drug store. It was Guerra’s Drug store located on the corner of S. Pecos and Guadalupe Street.
The owner was Fernando Guerra and he had been there a long time before I was born. He had the distinction of living among us in the same neighborhood. He was known throughout the barrio. People would come by the drug store to talk with him besides buying their medication.
My mother would take me to see a doctor who also worked at the store in a little room in the back. It was convenient because he would write prescriptions for the pharmacy which was also located within the store.
My visits to the store was always to buy some candy. When nobody was looking I was able to grab some tootsie rolls and just pay for the ones I came to buy. Sometimes they would see me and just give me the candy. First off it was a penny a piece and not worth the effort to call the police. Fernando was that kind of man.
When I turned 13 Mr. Guerra offered me a job as a delivery boy. I would go by after school and worked until they closed. My main job was delivering medicine to those who could not pick them up due to their illness. My wife now tells me that I delivered medicine to her grandmother once or twice while she was living on S. Leona Street.
My other responsibilities were to sweep the floor before we close. This was done by pouring an oil based compound on the wooden floor to absorb the dust then sweeping it up. Mr. Guerra also wanted me to clean the windows from the outside using a product called Bon Ami which left a powdery film on the glass which I promptly wiped it off. This was a daily ritual.
I learned a little about his family. He had two sons who worked with him in the pharmacy doing odd jobs. He also had a brother, Oscar, who had his own drug store on S. Flores Street. I know about Oscar because I was farmed out to him for a few days. I didn’t like it because It was too far to ride my bicycle and he didn’t use me as a delivery boy.
I made friends with Fernando Guerra Jr. while he was there working with his dad. He and I were about the same age and we sort of grew up together in that environment. He became the Director of the health department in San Antonio and I made a career in the military.
I also learned a few tricks of the trade while working there. At certain time during the week I was sent to the stock room where I would fill little bottles of water and label them Agua Florida. Those little bottles were used to put medication which was either liquefied or crushed so the patients could drink it with a teaspoon.
While Mr. Guerra was away on vacation, he left his assistant in charge. For long distance deliveries, it would require him to take his car. However, he asked me to go in his place using my bicycle. The address was on E. Hays Street which I took a long time to get there and back. It was almost closing time and I still had to sweep the floor before I left. Mr. Guerra found out about it and gave him a tongue lashing that he never forgot and the assistant took it out on me by giving me more work.
While I was attending Lanier High School, Mr. Guerra allowed me to participate at all school events which did not affect my work schedule. I was already in the drill team and rifle team which required practice time after school. I would go immediately to work at the drug store until closing time around 9:00pm. This was every day and weekends except Sundays.
I was fortunate that Mr. Guerra was an understanding guy. I told him that I was not going to work during my senior year so I could prepare to graduate. He agreed and we parted ways. That was the first time that I had all the time to myself. However, before that happened, I had joined the Army Reserves and was going to weekly drills at Ft. Sam Houston and that was taking some time. And that’s another story!

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