In 1939 Frank Castronovo moved his family from Brooklyn to Watchung, and at the Watchung Circle, opened Watchung Pharmacy, the first pharmacy in our area. Frank chose to close his Manhattan store and move to Watchung because his family used to vacation ‘in the country’ in Watchung and they fell in love with the area and its residents.
Pharmacy was a different profession then. A pharmacist in those days spent most of the day compounding prescriptions from stock bottles of medication, forming tablets or suppositories, filling capsules or making syrups, elixirs and suspensions…and yes providing a leech or two when needed. The ice cream counter in the pharmacy also served the community as a meeting place for its residents. Frank served on the fire department, coached the local basketball team and served as the townships Heatlh Officer. His wife Ann helped out in the store and served on the Board of Education.
In 1962 Frank’s son Tom opened Edgewood Pharmacy, just a few miles from where he grew up on Washington Rock Road. Pharmacy was a different profession then as well. Whereas pharmacists still filled many compounded prescriptions like Frank Castronovo did. The profession was changing and the medications were beginning to be manufactured by the growing pharmaceutical industry. Ann also helped her son in his new business as did Tom’s wife Mary Ann. Tom was also very active in the community. Serving as a member of the Lions Club and as commissioner of the Warren baseball league.
Warren Township in the 1960’s was mostly a farming community with only one shopping center. Tom and Mary Ann decided to raise their family here. Purchasing a home in one of the ‘new’ Warren neighborhoods built in 1966. Edgewood Pharmacy then served as the local post office, a place where you could replace your TV tube, buy a radio, or an ice cream from the freezer, as well as tend to the health care needs of the community.
Tom’s son Steve decided to follow in the family footsteps. In 1975, when Steve was in the 5th grade he wrote a letter for a school assignment:
“When I grow up I am going to be a Pharmacist. I am going to help people and give them the medicine that they need and I will give them the things that will make them better if they are sick. I will also give them things that they want. I will make lots of friends and I will sell newspapers on Sundays.”
After graduating from pharmacy school, Steve joined his father at Edgewood Pharmacy in 1987. Steve lives locally as well, raising his family in Basking Ridge. Today, the profession is still changing. Almost all of the prescriptions are industry manufactured with only a minimum amount of compounding. Whereas, the 'tools of the trade' have changed over the years from mortars, pestles, tablet presses, suppository molds...and a reliable scale (Frank's scale is proudly on display in Edgewoood's pharmacy department). To computerized pharmacy systems, automated tablet counters, point of sale and phone systems.