Dramatic events lead to Pavis' Newhard's purchase
In this fourth column, I am speaking to Mr. Jack Pavis who, with his son John, owns the popular landmark Newhard Pharmacy in Northampton.
Jack was born in Mount Carmel into a coal miners family. With mine closures, the family moved to Philadelphia, where the coal miner's son earned a degree in pharmacy at the esteemed Philadelphia School of Pharmacy.
Along with fellow pharmacist Mr. Peter Stahl, a Pottstown native, he heard the well-known Newhard's Pharmacy may be up for sale. The owner, Mr. Aaron Newhard, was a cement borough institution.
Aaron was the son of William "Pony" Newhard who owned a funeral home on Washington Avenue. Mr. Newhard buried many local cement workers over the years.
Another son, Charles, was a longtime Northampton police officer and member of the Northampton School Board.
Aaron's wife, Erma Miller Newhard, was the daughter of Monroe Miller, a local contractor who constructed numerous bridges in Northampton and Lehigh counties. Mrs. Newhard's brothers were also builders. Warren Miller completed a renovation of the Northampton Community Center many years ago.
Why did Mr. Newhard desire to sell his Main Street pharmacy which was part of his life for almost 50 years? Aaron hoped Mr. George Williams, a Northampton boy, and his pharmacist, would be his successor at the pharmacy. George was an outstanding student at Northampton High School and started working at the drugstore while in junior high school.
He was a stellar third-baseman on the Konkrete Kid baseball team. He was considered a prime prospect by the Boston Red Sox, but pharmacy was to be his career. Then suddenly the amiable, popular hometown boy passed away, a shock to the family, Aaron and the community.
The triangle-shaped Main Street Rexall drugstore was completely destroyed on May 19, 1956. Firemen from Northampton and surrounding communities bravely fought the blaze but the fire was too intense.
Aaron was determined to continue Newhard's. He purchased a structure across from his building at 1216 Main St. It had once been home to Roth's 5-10 store. This was the building and business that now was for sale.
Mr. Newhard had purchased the original business from the former owner Dr. Charles Meixsell.
Mr. Pavis recalls, "When Pete and I heard the store was for sale we drove up to Northampton, the first time I was ever in the borough. At the time I was a pharmacist for Dennis Drugstores in Bethlehem.
"In meeting Mr. Newhard, I found him to be a keen Pennsylvania German who knew the pharmacy business and had great concern for his patients and the community."
The year was 1969.
I asked about the negotiations with Mr. Newhard concerning the sale of the business.
"They were cordial," he said. "We didn't need a room full of attorneys to complete the sale."
Then Mr. Pavis amazed me. He walked over to a corner of his office and retrieved the agreement, a piece of paper three inches wide and 20 inches long, and placed it in front of me on a desk. It was hand written in pencil, just like this so-called writer writes this series of columns.
The agreement is basic. The price was $96,000, with an $8,000 down payment, a shake of the hands.
It reaffirmed my faith when business was conducted on faith and trust, so two young men, Jack and Peter, could continue the Newhard tradition in Northampton.
In two weeks, a new pharmacy on an old landmark.