Archived Story

Longtime Carlisle Drug employee shares tales of Alexander City’s past

Published 6:33pm Thursday, October 10, 2013

Few people have witnessed Alexander City change quite like Katie McAlpin.

For more than four decades McAlpin had a front-row seat to watch the city change right from the heart of downtown as an employee at Carlisle Drug Co.

“When I first went to work there, I worked for the Carlisles, who owned the store through the years until they sold it to the Champions about 12 or 13 years ago. Then I worked for the Champions,” McAlpin said. “I worked on the soda fountain for 12 years. I then went to work the front register and worked the front end and the fountain.”

McAlpin started at Carlisle Drug in Aug. 15, 1965 and worked there until 2008 before having to retire due to an accident.

Even before being at Carlisle Drug, she remembers the days of working at a grocery that once sat near the drug store and even the old train depot that existed near Main Street.

But during her years working downtown, McAlpin not only remembers the physical transformation of the city, she also remembers the social changes that came along with the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“It was a change,” McAlpin said. “I’m old enough to have seen the change to schools and the downtown area and specifically the drug store. I worked there at the time all those changes were going down.”

Through three generations working with the Carlisles and working with two generations of the Champions, McAlpin said one of the things she values most is the people she came to know throughout the years.

“The people, you wouldn’t believe how many people would come back out of high school and out of college and remember me,” McAlpin said. “I felt it was an honor when somebody that had been gone 30 years  would come back and say ‘how are you, Mrs. Katie.’ Kids through high school, when they came up the street, they’d say ‘here comes Katie’s little darlings.”

During her years working for Carlisle Drug, McAlpin was renowned for always being active and staying busy in her work, even moonlighting for 15 years at Walmart.

After retiring, McAlpin finally got the time to experience a lifelong dream.

“At one time in my life I lived across the Ohio River in Indiana, which when the Kentucky Derby was about the happen over in Louisville, it was like an Alabama-Auburn football game,” McAlpin said. “That was all you could hear. I always wanted to go, not so I could bet on the horses, I just wanted to see what was going on there.”

On Sept. 28, Fifth Judicial Circuit District Attorney E. Paul Jones took McAlpin along with family and friends on a trip to Louisville, Ky.

While it was not for the Kentucky Derby, which was held in May, McAlpin experienced the next best thing – enjoying the racing atmosphere at the derby venue of Churchill Downs.

“You never know a dream is going to come true until you see the man ride up on the white horse,” McAlpin laughed. “I guess that’s the only way to put it.”

During that trip, McAlpin made a stop that also reminded her of a little part of home.

“It was wonderful. We stayed in a small town called Bardstown, Ky. Would you believe we found a little drug store right there in town with a soda fountain? We ate lunch there,” McAlpin said. “They were so nice to us. I’ve just been meaning to write them a letter.”


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