On the Way to Madagascar?

I was finally able to read the story about the transformation of my family’s former drugstore into a Moroccan restaurant  and gift shop. When I tried to access it last week after my friend Harv sent an email, the Shore Line Times web site crashed my computer. Then my friend Martha sent a paper copy. After I wrote this entry, Harv sent another. Thanks, both of you.

I must say that I think Grampy (Peter Clark Lane) and Aunt Louise (Anna Louise James) would be pleased with the latest transformation for the store.

Mother told the story over and over about how Grampy dealt with threats to run him out of town by saying his family was from Madagascar and that they were stranglers. The Lanes were actually from New Jersey, and before that Virginia. They may have originated in East Africa, but it would have been in the mid-eighteenth century or earlier, so there’s no way to know for sure. Anyway, I think it’s appropriate that Tissa’s Le Souk du Maroc is now serving dishes from the same continent.

Grampy also created the original recipe for hot fudge sauce. No Hershey’s here. Auntie continued the tradition when she took over the store. Mother swore that I got accepted to Vassar because of that hot fudge. The woman from admissions who interviewed me spent summers on the Connecticut shoreline and had shared sundaes and ice cream sodas while she was “courting.”

Katharine Hepburn most definitely patronized the store and probably did use the phone. She wrote my mother when Auntie died that Anna Louise James was about the only woman who could intimidate her.

The article makes the place enticing, but I’d like to correct a few errors.

  • There is no proof that Auntie was the first woman to receive a pharmacy license from Connecticut. My mother did extensive research on the issue when she was trying to get the store on the National Register of Historic Places. There is a gap in the state’s records, though we do know that my grandfather and a friend were the first African Americans to receive pharmacy licenses.
  • Grampy did not open the store in 1896. Lane’s Pharmacy opened in 1900, and he and my grandmother moved to town in 1902. (The Hartford City Directory for 1903 indicates that he had migrated to Saybrook the previous year.)
  • Grampy did not fight in World War I. He was 46 years old when the war started. His younger brothers Frank and Warren registered, but he did not.
  • Grampy did not install the soda fountain. Aunt Louise added it in the 1920s.
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2 Responses to “On the Way to Madagascar?”

  1. Kathleen Benjdid Says:

    I am so glad that you know about our new business at the “James” Building and I am very pleased to have corect information about the Soda Fountain so I can list it correctly on our Web Site.

  2. Weekend Wrap-up « Lizr128′s Blog Says:

    […] we jumped in the car and drove to Old Saybrook so Anna could see the store transformed (“On the Way to Madagascar?”). We bought fabulous wraps – baba ganoush with feta cheese for me and lamb sausage for Anna. […]

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