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Tobin's Pharmacy Digitized Collection

Identifier: B390


Digital collection of photographs, clippings and images of medicine bottles and a prescription notebook from Tobin's Pharmacy, later Tobin's Drugs and Liquors. Tobin's was founded in 1936, and ran as an independent drug store by the family until 2005.


  • Early 1900s-2005


Biographical / Historical

Lou Tobin was born, raised and spent most of his adult life on Denver’s West Side. He was the only member of his family to attend college. He attended the University of Denver and graduated as a chemical engineer in the early 1930’s. Unable to find work in his profession during the Depression, he bought books on pharmacy, studied and took the State Board exams. He was licensed “by examination” in 1933.

He met Elsa Kaplan, a native of Rocky Ford, CO. She was part of the only Jewish family in the small southern Colorado town. They were married in 1937 by the young Rabbi Manuel Laderman. Lou and Elsa raised their 2 children, Martin and Sherrie on the West Side. Both attended Colfax Elementary, Lake Junior High and North High. Lou purchased the original Tobin’s Pharmacy on West Colfax and Newton in 1936 from a retiring pharmacist (unknown). At that time there were 5 or 6 drugstores on West Colfax between Federal and Sheridan owned by Jewish pharmacists. Lou operated the small corner drugstore at that location until 1948 when he built the pharmacy several blocks west on West Colfax and Quitman. He was then joined by his brother-in-law, Dave Herman. At the time, the larger store would have been considered a “big box”. A large front end displaying cosmetics, over-the counter medicines, toys, sundries and household needs.

The highlight of the drugstore was a huge soda fountain with 10 stools and 6 or 8 booths. Long before McDonald’s or 7-elevens or television, the soda fountain at Tobin’s was the place to be after school, a date night or a family gathering on a warm summer evening. Cherry Cokes, green rivers, ice cream sodas and sundaes were some of the specialties. Lou held court over the store which was open 7 days a week until 10PM. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Lou and he knew all by name. If a kid was unruly or caught shoplifting a comic book or pack of gum, he knew the parents and the culprit was returned to face the consequences.

Sherrie Tobin and her future husband Howard Zeppelin attended school together from 1st grade. They began dating in high school and married in 1965 while Howard was in pharmacy school at CU in Boulder. They became the parents of three children and grandparents of four. Howard worked part-time at the pharmacy during school breaks learning the business from Lou. Graduating in 1967, Howard began working full-time as was mentored by his father-in-law. Howard had little or no knowledge of the business aspects of the profession, but he learned early on from Lou that it was vitally important to treat customers well and greet them by name.

In 1969, Howard was given the opportunity to purchase the pharmacy and Lou continued working beside him. There was never a public announcement that ownership had changed. Lou and Howard worked together for over 20 years until Lou passed away in 1988. Howard continued operating Tobin’s until 2005 when he was offered a buyout. Tobin’s was the last independent drugstore on West Colfax.


1.68 Gigabytes

Scope and Contents

211 digital files of photographs, clippings and material culture objects. Files are .tiff with .jpeg copies.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428