The plans had been changed over and over until they were finally approved by Riverside village officials. The building referred to as the Henninger building located at Longcommon and Burlington will be no more, but before the demolition begins, let’s give a little time and remember the site and the building.
Originally the corner of Longcommon and Burlington was where a grocery store was located, while the original Henninger’s Drug Store was across Burlington Street, where Riverside Plumbing is today.
When Henninger’s moved into their “new” location, it was not without customers waiting for the store to open. Reed Henninger and his staff would continue to give personal service to their customers?”not only pharmaceuticals but through the sale of many other items, although the soda fountain would not relocate to the new space.
You could pick up a quick gift, buy make-up and purchase all kinds of greeting cards. And who can’t remember needing poster board at the last minute to complete a homework assignment due the next day (which had been assigned weeks before).
Of course for coughs and colds, Mr. Henninger could give his recommendations or make his suggestions on other aches, pains or ailments. It was truly the neighborhood drug store with the friendly and helpful pharmacist.
Growing up in Riverside meant Henninger’s was more than just a business establishment. It was also a place to meet and greet your friends. During the teen years, the corner was the place to gather and decide where you were going for the rest of the evening. We didn’t have cellphones; we just knew to meet at the drug store.
Of course, if too many gathered or we were there too long, the police would politely ask us to leave. No problems, off we went. Also there were no benches on the corner as there are now, and, if it was cold, we didn’t want to stand there for too long a time. You also didn’t want to stay too long, because you never knew whose parents would see you and report back to your parents. That was “it takes a village” before it was popular.
Mr. Henninger also hired many local residents to work at the store, including teenagers, which meant another connection in the teen social whirl. If there was a cute guy or girl working at the counter, who one wanted to know better, it was not unusual to make excuses to go to the drug store more often.
Many a teen was more than happy to run an errand for their parents if it included a stop at Henninger’s. It didn’t take parents long to figure out their child’s willingness to be helpful. Many friendships and dates came about after going to the drug store to buy gum, a newspaper or whatever one would think of needing.
There was also a snack shop next to the building owned by a man from Greece, named Regis. After saving enough money, the family returned to Greece and another business. A local resident named Moose Moravec took over the snack shop. He was helped out at the shop by Jim Taus, a Berwyn resident. Taus’ son, Michael, is now the owner and chef of the renowned Zealous Restaurant in Chicago. Moose made the place people friendly. I don’t remember much about the food, but it was where friends could meet and eat.
The building will soon be reduced to rubble and there is anticipation of the new building to come as a movement into another time for the corner of Longcommon and Burlington. There will be condos and retail businesses in place and the area will be revitalized which is good for Riverside.
However, I’m sure there will be waves of nostalgia for many as they think back to the days when the corner of Longcommon and Burlington was more than where the drug store was, but the place to go.