Monday, November 23, 2015

Ambridge memorabilia: Grand opening Leo's Pharmacy--and Pat Boone

What's the connection between Ambridge's Leo's Pharmacy and singer and actor Pat Boone?

Sue Ann James says she got the flier below with Pat Boone's "autographed" photo when, as a kid, she went to the Ambridge Theatre to see a Pat Boone movie, probably April Love. That movie came out in 1957, the year Boone's movie career began. Sue Ann says that she probably thought the autograph was real back then.

The Leo's Pharmacy ad was on the reverse of the Boone photo. In 1957, that pharmacy, owned by Leo Karolewski, was at 700 Merchant St., which was part of the Ambridge Theatre building. The pharmacy remained in that location until 1965, when the theatre building was sold to Pittsburgh National Bank and razed. Leo's then moved to a larger store at 663 Merchant.

However, the "Grand Opening of the All New!" pharmacy must have been the opening of a remodeled store, since Leo's had been at 700 Merchant since the early 1950's, before Boone's career began. I don't have the exact date Leo's opened at 700 Merchant, but the July 27, 1965, Beaver County Times article about the pharmacy's relocating to 663 Merchant says that Leo's had been at 700 Merchant for 12 years, so circa 1953. And I have found several Leo's ads with that address from 1955 and '56, including one from Ambridge's Golden Jubilee celebration in 1955.

"Autographed" Pat Boone photo
courtesy Sue Ann James

Leo's Pharmacy "Grand Opening" ad
reverse of Pat Boone photo above
700 Merchant St.
courtesy Sue Ann James

A check of the 1957 calendar shows that September 5, 6, and 7, were indeed a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So it seems likely that Sue Ann was right, and this flyer was handed out when April Love played at the Ambridge Theatre.

The Huntington Bank building in Ambridge is currently located at 700 Merchant.

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