Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Crazy Drug Company

The Western Union Fire

These two photographs were found in a huge, unsorted pile in an “antique” mall in Wichita Falls, Texas. There was some question at first, as to whether they were even related.

Ghost Sign

The prints are the same size and seem same age. There is also a photo-lab number on the reverse of each that although obscured a bit, seem the same. Let's assume that they are probably related.

Starting with this detail of the print just above, I found a PDF of the 1915 journal of the National Association of Retail Druggists (NARD).

A paragraph on page 26 of volume 19 lists the incorporation of several, apparently new drug companies, including the Crazy Drug Company of Mineral Wells, Texas. ($10,000).

Assuming there is not likely to have been TWO "Crazy" drug companies I now had possible date and location details to narrow the search a bit.

The fact that the photographs were found in Texas added strength to the clue.

Ghost Sign

Mineral Wells Texas 1920 City Directory page 165

I’d like to say that it was a long hard struggle but it wasn’t. After a few minutes of searching I found the “Portal to Texas History.” It’s an excellent research site examining the history of Texas, town by city. The site has a very fine search system and “Crazy Drug Co.” turned up a city directory of Mineral Wells from 1920. This page explains a lot.

It lists the businesses in the Crazy Water Pavilion that occupied the four hundred block on north Oak in Mineral Wells, Texas. All the odd numbers would be shops and businesses in the pavilion. The even numbers would be across the street.

The block begins with the Crazy Drug company at 401 North Oak and ends with, sure enough, The Western Union Telephone company.
Many of the firms include the word "Crazy" in the business name but a few do not.

While researching the "Crazy" Hotel and surroundings one of the first things I noticed in the “Portal to Texas History” site was a duplicate of the photograph that I found (repeated at the right) in the junk shop, although their copy was not as clear. (See below)

Crazy Drug co
Ghost Sign

The one at the right was apparently shot at nearly the same time and from about the same point as the found photograph at the top right of this page and just above.

It appears to be from a few steps back and to the left and probably a bit earlier.

Ghost Sign

Another detail from the lower right corner of the original photograph, showing a penny scale in front of a "BATHS" sign.

Crazy Hotel, pavilion and drug store fire. 1925

From “Portal to Texas History”: The "Crazy Flats" drinking pavilion, with rooms for rent, replaced a two-story Crazy Water drinking pavilion in 1909. The first Crazy Hotel was built in 1912, and an annex was added to it in 1914. A fire in the Drug Store of the "Crazy Flats" (SE corner of the Crazy Flats building) on March 15, 1925, destroyed the entire Crazy block.

Here are two photograph taken apparently just outside the entrance to the Crazy Well Flats. Note the signs for Crazy Cigar store and the Western Union Telegraph office which are in the same building.

Outside the Crazy Flats pavilion
Outside the Crazy Flats pavilion

Crazy Hotel fire, Mineral Wells, Texas

And last, here is a look at the burned out building from an entirely different angle.

Then on the right, a postcard shot of the Crazy Hotel before the fire about 1913. The Crazy Drug Co. Appears on the left and the pavilion with the shops is on the right. At least that's how it looks to me.

First Crazy Hotel

From “Portal to Texas History” :
This picture shows the front of the first Crazy Hotel, which was destroyed by fire March 15, 1925. Built in two stages and joined together, the first (back) section was built in 1912, and the second (front) section was completed in 1914. A handwritten note on back of photograph states, "Crazy Hotel 1913. Front of Hotel Facing South Mineral Wells, Tx." This picture is included on page 15 of A.F. Weaver's book "TIME WAS...", and was probably taken before the second section of the hotel opened for business. The back of Crazy Flats (the second Crazy Water Drinking Pavilion) can be seen to the right, north of and behind the hotel in this picture.

This photograph belongs to the “Portal to Texas History” site.

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  1. A very enjoyable post. Great detective work.

    Some wonderful photos too!

    1. Thanks Sharon. It was an interesting afternoon following the leads and details.

  2. I have a tiny glass bottle, a prescription bottle, from the Crazy Drug Co in Mineral Wells, TX - dated 1967.

  3. Thanks! Very interesting! Send me a photograph of it and I will add it to this page! Phase65 at



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