204 North Keller Avenue Amery, Wisconsin 54001 Hours: Mon-Fri 7A-8P, Sat 8A-8P, Sun 9A-6P
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Chester W. "Chet" Johnson was born in Mondovi, WI. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy in 1931 , he bought a defunct drugstore in Amery, WI in 1932, in the middle of the depression. He came to town with $28.00, a true act of faith. His high school sweetheart, Irene Eleanor "Ellie" Ede, had graduated from St. Olaf College, and was teaching Latin in Fairview, SD. In August 1933, one year after purchasing the drugstore, Chet and Ellie were joined in marriage, and she became his true partner.
Chet was known as "1/12th of a dozen" Johnson, since that was often all he could afford to order! Many crazy promotions were offered to create business, as well as many pranks instigated by friends and fellow businessmen. The store was open long hours, often until 10:00 or later in the evening. There was a soda fountain with homemade ice cream flavored and frozen on-site. During a store remodel in 1963 the soda fountain was replaced by a self-serve coffee counter.
Meanwhile, Ellie was the typical housewife of her time, raising two sons, David and Bruce, and two daughter, Louise and Mary. Ellie was a great cook, and thought nothing of entertaining 20 or 30 people at a sit-down dinner all without the benefit of a dishwasher! Chet wore a freshly-starched white shirt to work every day, which Ellie painstakingly washed and ironed. A hand-tied bowtie was one of Chet's trademarks.
Chet and Ellie were both very active in the community- Chet was involved with the Amery Community Club and church. Ellie was very busy with the Amery Women's Club, and was the Sunday School Superintendent for many years.
In the 1940's, the couple took flying lessons, and became instrumental in forming the airport near Amery. Ellie's sense of humor was well known, and a good cigar would occasionally be smoked (even though she claimed to be a non-smoker)! She supported Chet in business, and they both were active in the Wisconsin Pharmacist Association and it's Auxiliary, serving on respective boards of organizations.
Sons David and Bruce each became Pharmacists and in 1970 bought the business from Chet. Chet continued
to fill in for the boys as needed but officially retired in the early1970s. Ellie and Chet spent winter months in Mesa, Arizona, coming home in the spring to enjoy their home on the Apple River. Ellie died in 1978 from breast cancer, and Chet died in 1994. In 2000, the third generation of Johnson's, Bruce's son Matt and his wife Julie, bought the business from Matt's dad and uncle. In 2005 in true Johnson fashion, Matt took a leap of faith and underwent an extensive remodeling of the pharmacy and brought back the soda fountain and all the nostalgia of his grandfather's days.