Enter a doorway into the past…

Thumb_9916_Delektas_Pharmacy_20140701I’ve attend numerous photography seminars where I was encouraged by many professional photographers who lectured amateurs (like myself) and other professionals alike about “pre-visualizing” a scene or photo. That is, pre-planning in advance for capturing that special photo. Their lecture consisted of planning for the appropriate time of day or season, the type weather, as well as the nicest area or location to obtain the best composition. Ironically, I had been doing just that with respect to a particular location I’ve been eying to photograph for numerous years. I had driven by this particular location on numerous occasions, waiting patiently for the right moment to capture the photo.

This winter a group of us visited Newport for a social gathering and photography event. What we hadn’t planned on, was the amount of snow we were about to receive that day, but we still planned going. We arrived in Newport, settled in for a bite of lunch, and then ventured out to photograph. Needless to say, once we noticed how heavily the snow began to fall and that the roads were becoming dangerous we decided to cut the afternoon short and head home. The driving was extremely slow. However, as I proceeded home, I was treated to the scene that I had pre-visualized and desired for numerous years.

Many might remember “Gower’s Drug store” depicted in the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Or maybe “Vincent’s Drug Store” highlighted in the movie “The Sandlot”. Well we don’t have a town named Bedford Falls or Glendale located near us…but we do have a small community of Warren, Rhode Island, that has its own unique taste of nostalgia. The photo below is the exterior of Delekta’s pharmacy during that heavy snowfall that evening. Delekta’s is located on Main Street, in Warren. The lighting, the time of day, and the weather were perfect for me to acquire the photo I wanted. I titled the photo “Every time a bell rings”, because it reminded me so much of the drug store depicted in the film “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and was one of the classic lines from the film.

Delekta’s is a family owned pharmacy that still maintains the nostalgic look and feel both inside and outside. Several months later, through a mutual friend I was able to gain access to photograph the interior of the pharmacy. I met with the current owner Erik, who graciously allowed me to photograph the interior. The building that houses the pharmacy is over 150 years old. But as for the pharmacy itself little has changed. It truly is an amazing place. It’s like stepping back in time to a different era. The pharmacy at Delekta’s continues to fill prescriptions for its customers who remain loyal to the pharmacy and its longtime ownership. During my time photographing, several patrons came and went. I couldn’t help but observe how personal there service was. Each patron knew Erik, and most importantly, Erik knew them.

Very different from the big-box retailers that include pharmacy, not as profit center, but as a way of luring consumers into their stores in hopes that they purchase other items during their visit. And maybe, you might find the same pharmacist working there, the next time you visited. Delekta’s features an original tile floor, a vintage manual cash register (which includes a “5-cent” key on its keyboard). Still on display is much of the vintage glassware, apothecary items, and medicine bottles that one might expect to see in a pharmacy from the 1940’s. And for a treat, they have a vintage working soda fountain where you can several flavors of ice cream in a dish or a cone, or you can order one of their famous “cabinet’s”. Cabinets are a Rhode Island tradition – but Delekta’s makes theirs with their own secret syrup ingredients. (Cabinet’s – better known as a frappe or milk shake to non-Rhode Island folk). They even have some cute 2- seat booth for those who decide to have a seat and enjoy their ice cream and the view.

So if the fast-pace of your day-to-day life is stressing you out, pay a visit to Delekta’s. It’s like stepping back in time to a slower turn-of-the century lifestyle. Stop in for a “coffee-cabinet” and enjoy it the old fashioned way.


  1. You beat me to it Sal! We visited friends who live not far from the pharmacy 4-5 weeks ago. On the way back I told Jan that we should come back to the old pharmacy where there is still a soda fountain. Nice collection.

  2. Chris Wall says

    Your photos of Delekta’s were outstanding. We were there two years ago when we visited Warren, RI which is the birthplace of my now deceased mother-in-law. Since your contact form does not work, I wondered if I may have your permission to use the photo “Soda Fountain” with the sign Coffee Cabinet in pic on my blog. I have a blog called Crazy About Cookbooks (www.crazyaboutcookbooks.wordpress.com). My next post will be about a cookbook I bought when we were in Rhode Island. I plan to include a little nostalgia about my mother-in-law enjoying coffee cabinets. My blog is not commercial in any way. I would credit the photo to you. Please let me know ASAP if I have your permission. Much appreciated.

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