Frank William PENTZ was born on 26 Oct 1887 in Halifax, Nova
Scotia. He died on 2 Aug 1951 in Kingston, Ontario. He was the son of
Frederick Edwin and Emily Isabella Pentz, nee Myers. It was a large
family: Frank William was the fifth of their 16 children, the fourth
of those nine who survived their childhood and the eldest son.
When he was about two or three years old, the family moved to Hantsport, and that is where his childhood was spent. On his eleventh birthday, his grandfather Richard Edwin Pentz died.
Following in his father's footsteps, Frank decided to become a druggist. He came to Toronto and became licensed by the Ontario College of Pharmacy, attending the 1909-1910 session and graduating with honours in the May. The subjects of the examination were as follows: Dispensing, Prescriptions, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Materia Medica and Botany.
You also had to apprentice for four years, and apparently Frank went to school in the day and then worked at a drugstore at night. His son Paul recalls him saying that the druggist would let him sit on the steps and study until a customer came in, he would get up and serve them and when they left go back to his studying.
After his graduation, he returned to Nova Scotia and on September 14, 1910 married Leena Pridham at Amherst, Nova Scotia. Their son Ted was born in 1911.
Frank began to run a drugstore, although whether this was the one in Hantsport or his father's new one in Shubenacadie, or ones in Ontario, I'm not sure.
A few years later, probably before August, 1915, Leena died of tuberculosis. Frank at this point was in Hantsport and working there as a druggist, with his mother most probably looking after his little boy.
Initially, Frank belonged to the Ionic Lodge No. 73 (Masonic) in Middleton, N.S. What was he doing in Middleton? Subsequently, he became a Royal Arch Mason on August 20, 1915. He also belonged to the Independent Order of Old Fellows in Hantsport, N.S. on May 1, 1916.
Frank eventually decided to return to Ontario. He settled in Windsor around 1917 and went about trying to get a drugstore of his own. It was in Windsor that he met Bessie Irene Sutor, whom he married on New Years Day, 1919. Bessie Irene had been working in a telegraph office there, and since he often sent telegrams to his family in Nova Scotia, they had met.
Frank's first drugstore was on the corner of Wyandotte and Hall Avenue, and it was named Pentz's Standard Drugs. The house his mother-in-law lived in was right behind it, just separated by an alley. He owned a total of thirteen drugstores in Windsor, all of which had soda fountains, and had a chain of six going at the time of the crash in 1929. Whenever he filled prescriptions, he gave out little medicine glasses, with "PENTZ'S STANDARD DRUGSTORE, BORDER CITIES, ONT.' written on them. In those days, there were fewer pills and so often medicine was in liquid form. The glass is marked in teaspoons, tablespoos and ounces. It also mentions that 60 drops equal one teaspoon. His sister Lottie, after completing her pharmacy course in Toronto, came to Windsor to run one of his drugstores for him.
Their large home was on 373 Moy Avenue, which was not far from Hall and Wyandotte but in a better area by the river. The house has now been torn down.
Besides owning the chain of drugstores, Frank also owned two apartment buildings, one on a corner, and a fairly large tobacco farm divided by a creek between Kingsville and Leamington. He bought it in the mid-20s and had it about three years. His family moved from Windsor to the farm, where there was a stone house to live in with a huge dining room and living room, and a wing for a nursery and a small room beside it for the nurse. In Windsor, the boys' nursemaid had been a girl named Annie. Edsel went to school in Ruthven, which was about three miles from the farm.
The Depression hit in 1929 and the Pentz family was hit hard, as were others in the business. In fact, two of Frank's friends who had drugstores committed suicide. Both were well-to-do men and friendly competitors of his. Frank lost his farm, and as no-one in his apartments could pay for their rent, he lost the apartments as well.
At the same time, his bank which had been so willing to extend him credit to open up his chain of drugstores began to call in their notes. Unable to raise the money, he was put into bankruptcy. In the end, he was able to salvage only a small amount of stock that had not been taken back by his creditors or sold to satisfy their demands. He managed to trade his big, black four-door car which he was so proud of for a truck, loaded all the stock on it, and set off for Highgate.
Family tragedy also struck in the same year, when his son Ted contracted tuberculosis, the same disease that killed his mother. Ted went into a sanitarium at Mimico Beach, and after being confined for six years, died in 1935.
In Highgate, Frank set up a drugstore with the remaining stock from the Windsor stores. At Highgate however, it was all barter in the store. If you didn't have any money, maybe you had some potatoes, or some beans. Frank liked to cook, and made good pork and beans. Porridge, beans, bread (but no butter) was a good part of their diet. Unfortunately, business was so bad in those times that after two years he was forced to close his store, and in 1932 he moved the family to Toronto to find a job.
In Toronto, they first rented a house in the West End on 95 Government Road, and then moved to a bigger house on 1425 Dundas St. W., which was so close to the other that the boys didn't have to change schools. Frank put up a sign on the door saying "Tourist Home", and that brought in a bit of extra money.
After that he managed to get a drugstore on Kingston Road, and the family lived above the store. (The store is now converted into a house.) As very few people had the money to pay for goods bought at the drugstore, Frank was forced to take a job as a salesman to supplement his income, as he had to pay his suppliers cash for new stock.
He sold the drugstore and opened another at 1180 Queen St E where they again lived above the store. (This is no longer a drugstore.) He had a hard time getting a business going there, as a lot of people wanted to charge things to an account and he couldn't afford to have that policy at his store.
Finally, seeing that it was too tough to try and stay in business during the Depression, he also sold that drugstore and moved to a rented house on 2 Glenfern Ave. in Kew Beach, and took a full-time sales position with Langley, Harris and Company.
Also, when Frank had first come to Toronto, he had been making and selling to other stores his own Javel water, which was used for bleaching. He collected loads of bottles and would fill each with the same amount to matter what the size. His son Edsel would help him to bottle it. It was called Quaker Javel Water, and because of the Quaker name he had to stop selling it.
Once while talking to his employer at Langley, Harris, Frank mentioned that he was from the Maritimes. The man knew the company was having a hard time selling down there, and so offered him a big raise if he would go home and represent the company there.
The move to Shubenacadie was made in August, 1940 and he was the company's Maritime representative for three years. He spent a lot of his time on the road and in hotels, as evidenced by the many letters he sent his wife and son Paul on hotel stationery. One common place to stay was the Admiral Beatty Hotel in Saint John, New Brunswick. He also spent a lot of time in Sydney, Nova Scotia. His cousin Ethel Neva Slade, nee Barron, recalls many dinners at her home with Frank when he was in town. He used to tell them that he was tired of being on the road so long, and so they would always have a nice meal for him when he came. When he stayed in Sydney on weekends, they used to go on picnics together. Frank was very entertaining, she said, and they used to have great talks around the table. There is a picture of Frank with her mother, his aunt Eudora Ann Pentz, which she is going to send.
In 1943 though, Frank took over the operation of his father's old drugstore in Shubenacadie from his sister Bertha when she became ill, and ran it until 1949 when her son Malcolm passed the pharmacy course and took it over.
At this point, Frank contacted the Ontario College of Pharmacy, wanting to come back to Ontario and find employment with a druggist. In a letter to his sons dated January 27, 1949 he says:
"I have decided to leave Nova Scotia. I don't seem to be able to get registered here. They seem to be putting me off and off from one meeting to the other. These meetings are six months apart, and I don't feel that I can afford, at my age, to take a chance.
"I have also decided to give up the wholesale business as I don't feel able to go out myself and it is hard to get a satisfactory man, so I'll be selling my extra stock, I expect, to The National Drug or The Provincial Drug and dispose of my property here in Shubenacadie. In fact, I have written my intentions to the Ontario College of Pharmacy. I also feel business is very dull in Nova Scotia. Thousands of men have been taken by the employment bureau for work in Ontario and other Provinces.
"We are all quite discouraged. Of course you know there is another drug store opened in Shubenacadie, but he isn't doing any business either.
"I will first have to cash in the best I can and may have to leave Mother here until I get settled in Ontario. I don't know how soon I will be able to get away, but I am hoping within a month, but it may not be until spring opens but just as soon as I can make the grade. Of course I will have to take a job in a drugstore, managing if possible, but a job.
"Mother and I both feel we should return to Ontario, getting located in a town or village in preference to a large city and get settled for the rest of our life, that is get a business of my own again..."
Frank moved to Collingwood in April 1949, and there he worked as a part-time druggist eight hours a day. He stayed for about a year, but got restles working under another person and moved to Kingston, where he finally managed to get a drugstore of his own which he named Kingscourt Drugs. In a letter to his son Paul dated November 21, 1950, he described the location of the new store:
"So I went ahead looking for a place to open up and have found the right place, no drug stores within six blocks, a new sub-division with over four thousand population and 700 houses to draw from. A small store 13 - 30 feet in the centre of the sub-division where so many druggists wanted to open, but it was all restricted to residence. This was the last place that a commercial store could be built and as I was always looking around I located it and have paid the first month's rent...
"Edsel was here Sunday and is greatly taken with the location and the ice cream man was up to look it over today and said it was a grand opening and would put an ice cream freezer (cabinet) in free, if I bought the cream from their firm. Mother is also greatly taken with the location.
"There was 350 war-time housing houses built and occupied and another 350 better houses built selling at $8,500 and $13,000 and 25 to 30 more of such houses being built. It is a real location and, no cheques being taken, it is there, that is the business, and I am in on it and the only drug store.
"...the store rent starts December 1st and I want to get in and started as soon as possible. It is a new store, near a new school house with 16 rooms, another four-room school house two blocks away, and most of the children have to pass here or near the store. This will give Mother and me just want we have always wanted, a good living and a sure business."
He ran the store for less than a year.
On August 2, 1951 Frank died of a heart attack at the age of 63. He is buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto.
Parents: Frederick Edwin PENTZ and Emily Isabella MYERS.
He was married to Leena PRIDHAM on 14 Sep 1910 in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Children were: Edward (Ted) PENTZ.
He was married to Bessie Irene SUTOR on 1 Jan 1919 in Windsor, Ontario. Children were: Edsel Eckhardt PENTZ, Frank William PENTZ, Paul Edward PENCE.