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Tobin's Pharmacy Digitized Collection

Identifier: B390


Tobin's was founded in 1936 by Lou Tobin and run as an independent drug store by the family until 2005. In 1969, Howard Zeppelin purchased Tobin's Drug Store from his father-in-law. Digital collection of photographs of store and family, clippings, images of medicine bottles, and a prescription notebook from Tobin's Pharmacy, later Tobin's Drugs and Liquors.


  • 1900-2005


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. Lou Tobin went to 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. In 1937, he married Elsa Kaplan, a native of Rocky Ford, a small southern Colorado town in which the Kaplans were the only Jewish family. Lou and Elsa Tobin had two children, Martin and Sherrie, who attended Colfax Elementary, Lake Junior High and North High on the Jewish West Side of Denver. Lou purchased the original Tobin's Pharmacy on West Colfax and Newton in 1936 from a retiring pharmacist. At that time, there were five or six 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. His brother-in-law, Dave Herman, then joined him. The larger store would have been considered a "big box." The drugstore had an extensive front-end displaying cosmetics, over-the-counter medicines, toys, sundries, and household needs. The drugstore had a soda fountain with ten stools and ten booths. The soda fountain was the place to be after school, a date night, or a family gathering on a warm summer evening. Some of the specialties were Cherry Cokes, Green Rivers, and ice cream sodas. Tobin's drugstore was open seven days a week until 10 PM. 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, Lou knew the parents, so and the culprit had 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, 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 Zeppelin purchased the pharmacy, but 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 accepted a buyout. Tobin's was the last independent drugstore on West Colfax.


1.68 Gigabytes

Scope and Contents

211 digital files of photographs of the family and drug store; clippings; and material culture objects, incliding medicine bottles. Files are .tiff with .jpeg copies.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

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