Eli Rukasin – Rukasin Drug Store

We went to Cleveland for the weekend to participate in our niece’s Bat Mitzvah.  It was a great time getting together with family.  On our way leaving town today we stopped at a place where much of my family resides – Warrensville Cemetery.  While walking around visiting the graves of my parents and all four of their parents I spotted a grave that I had not noticed before, that of Eli Rukasin and his wife.  Eli Rukasin was a great man from my youth and the youth of many friends when we were growing up.  Eli owned and operated Rukasin’s Drug Store.  Back then it was commonplace for drugstores to be small businesses that included a soda fountain complete with a row of stools.  Eli supported the neighborhood.  He was willing to hire underage guys (I can’t remember any girls that worked there) to work the cash register and the soda fountain.  I never worked there but I spent a lot of time there and many of my friends did work there.  It was a great place to stop at after school for a soda and/or a new comic book.

Once a year there would be a community parade on Memorial Day.  The parade included a collection of marching bands and other groups that all were uniformed and very nice looking.  This parade started from Oxford Elementary School in Cleveland Heights.  Eli was the guy that formed a band every year with the people that weren’t fortunate enough to be in a serious marching band.  Eli would let anyone that had an instrument join in.  They would practice a couple times up at the playground and then on parade day this group of all kinds of folks made up the Rukasin band and they were as proud as any other group.

It was nice running into an old friend today.

24 Responses to “Eli Rukasin – Rukasin Drug Store”

  1. Jeff Quedenfeld Says:

    This photo brings back a lot of memories for me. I am Jeff Quedenfeld Joan’s older brother and Louis is our father. I marched in Ruckies band also playing a tenor sax. It was a family tradition for many years. Thank you for the photo of Eli’s grave site. He ment a lot to all who lived in the Monticello/Noble area.

  2. Kathleen Flynn Kuritz Says:

    My brother, Tom Flynn, worked at Rukasin’s Drug Store for many years. Anyone remember his friend, Mike Gary or Garry, who worked there as well? Kathleen Flynn Kuritz — kathleenkuritz@aol.com

    • Anonymous Says:

      I worked at Rukasin’s for 5 years and I remember Tom and absolutely everyone liked him very much. I also remember and very much liked Mike Gary or Garry. Most all the guys that worked there were good kids. It’s funny how we vilify heroes and canonize villains. The “great” Eli Rukasin went to prison for illegally selling drugs– they caught him after decades of pushing drugs. He was up for many counts of drug trafficking. He paid us minimum wage and we worked hard. He made us break laws by selling beer and cigs when we were too young to do so, and other illegal things. He fired the best worker (a woman who we all loved, which resulted in a terrible thing happening.) I could go on and on and on. Eli Rukasin was not a great man, in any sense of the word. He may have done some good things, but he did some terrible things, too. I remember the good and the bad–I’m not in denial.

  3. Philip K. Selden Says:

    My name is Phil Selden. I grew up on Oxford Road and spent many enjoyable times at Rukasins. I was also a member of scout Troop 62 and several times was a member of the color guard that led the parade! I recall when we fired our rifles at the park, the kids would storm at our feet to grab the spent cartridges! It was, indeed, a Norman Rockwell event! Eli was a real institution.

    • Chuck Simpson Says:

      I grew up on Quilliams Road. I have a vague memory of the Selden family and Phil…was your father George? Did your family move to Glen Allen Road later? If so, your father and mine were also friends, possibly from Boy Scouts. My father was one of the people who started the parade back in, say, the mid-50s. We moved to Kentucky after I graduated from Monticello. Rukasin’s was a great place. Candy was 1 cent each!!! Hand-packed ice cream. Real old-time soda fountain. We used to call it “Eli’s.”

      • Allen Miller Says:

        Hi Chuck,

        I grew up on Atherstone (off Quilliams). Not sure about the names you are mentioning (Seldon), our name is Miller. I live in Cincinnati now, across the river from KY. Those were the good old days.


      • Phil Selden Says:

        Hi, Alan – Yes, your memory serves you well. My dad was George, he was the advisor for Explorer Post 62 and we moved to Glen Allen Drive in the summer of 1957! Remember the nickel ice cream cones, dime comic books and drinking straw wrappers stuck on the ceiling over the soda counter?

  4. Chuck Simpson Says:

    Hi Allen, I was actually responding to the post by Phil Selden just above. His name struck a cord. I believe I was also a member of Troop 62. The name Quedenfeld also is a brain-jogger, but I can’t remember knowing any of them. Great memories of Cleveland Heights. But it has changed a lot!

    • joan smith Says:

      Today is October 11, 2018. I am seeing this site for the first time. I am Joan Quedenfeld Smith. My brother is Jeff Quedenfeld. Louis is our father. Chuck, I believe the Simpson family lived next door to the Quedenfeld family on Quilliams Road in Cleveland Heights. Did you have a sister? I think I remember her.????

      • joan smith Says:

        Chuck, is your sister Janice Simpson?

      • Allen Miller Says:

        Hi Joan, Just found your post. This ‘blog’ has been kind of out of my mind for a while. I remember you and it looks like we both graduated CHHS ’69. Regards

      • Chuck Simpson Says:

        Hi Joan! Sorry to be so tardy in responding to your post of 2018. I just lost track of this site…and life marched on. I believe you are correct in that we were neighbors on Quilliams. We lived at 1020. Your family may have sold your house (or bought) from or to the Wilsons. Davey was my age. His father was a professor at some college. Jan is my sister, now 72. Lives in Connecticut. I guess you were friends with Jan. I was a member of Troop 62 and love those pictures Phil Selden posted some time ago. I think my Dad was Troop Leader at one time. I believe Cleveland Heights has changed a lot since we lived there. One thing I remember was a friend, Pat Thiel, who we dared to lick the sidewalk outside Rukasin’s.He did. And survived!!!
        Chuck Simpson

  5. Chelsea Jackson Says:

    Ohmigosh! My brother Bryce (Chester), sister Candy (Candith now) and crossing guard big brother Corey, all went to Rukasin’s for our candy. Its display, surely at least 4 feet high and 7 feet wide, behind that glass was mouthwatering. Twenty-five cents each for Hubba Bubba, Bubblicious, Charleston Chews, and regular candy bars meant four items with my allowance. Kovacs had ALL the comic books, but Rukasin’s had them beat for convenience.

  6. Pam Says:

    Hi all, 1960’s was before I was old enough to go to Rukasin’s by myself. I played in his memorial day band until I went to heights. I also worked at the drugstore 1980 to 1984. He was a wonderful man.

  7. Scott Tatum Says:

    Hi, Was digging around the internet and found this post. Eli was my dad he and Edith adopted me. It was cool to find that people still remembered my dad. I don’t know if you’ll get this or not as it’s an old post. But if you do please drop me a line.
    Scott Tatum (Rukasin)

    • Philip K. Sekden Says:

      Hi, Scott – We moved to Cleveland Heights in 1946 and lived on Oxford Road until 1957. From the time I was about seven, Rukasin’s was a frequent destination for my friends and me – buying candy at the counter in front, comic books from the display by the front window near the door, and the nickle ice cream cones from the lunch counter in back. I remember chocolate phosphates and cherry Cokes. We’d dip the straw wrapper in the liquid and try to stick it on the ceiling! If your dad saw us, he’d raise hell, but never did anything about it!

      Your dad’s community involvement was the stuff of legend! He organized those Memorial Day parades from the Noble Rd./Roanoke Rd intersection next to the store. I was a member of Scout Troop 62 and was in the color guard for several of those parades. Your dad would give the signal and off we’d march, leading the band and marchers to the park for a rifle salute and other patriotic activities. Great memories of a great man, from a great era, many years ago!

      I visited the store a number of years ago. It was closed by then, but still had the Rukasin signage and Rukasin’s Corner on the building. In fact, I took a picture of it, thinking that I might not get another chance to do so.

      Anyway. your dad was an institution in the neighborhood. I enjoyed spending an awful lot of my allowance at his store and I am glad that he never caught me shooting straw wrappers onto the ceiling!

  8. Mary McGrew Says:

    Brings back a lot of memories. We used to go down to Rukasin’s as well. My mom loved Eli Rukasin. She would go down there for her prescriptions and he would always help her out! Loved the candy counter and cherry cokes! and Mike Malalie (spelling not correct)!

  9. Doug Miller Says:

    Used to love Ruckie’s milkshakes. Bought tons of candy there…:). We lived on Northampton

    • Cheryl Stratton Says:

      My name is Cheryl (Morin) Stratton. I live in South Bend Indiana. We moved in 1960 when my dad, Bill Morin, was transferred with his trucking company. I remember Ruckie with fond memories, I spent my allowance there every week. My Grandpa, Robert Smith, gave me a quarter a week. I took empty soda bottles to Rukasins for a refund, sold comic books I purchased for 10 cents. After I read them, I sold them for 5 cents. Oh, what many of them would be worth now.
      I loved Ruckie so much. He was a great friend.

  10. Renee Havel Says:

    I lived in Cleveland Heights on Burbridge Rd off of Quilliams Rd from the late 60’s to mid 70’s. Rukasin’s drug store was a favorite place of mine. I’d ride there on my purple, banana seat bike with a pocket full of change to buy candy. I still remember buying individual pieces of Bassoka bubble gum for a penny a piece!

  11. Frank Kramer Says:

    I am looking to buy Eli Rukasin’s old business cards that said “Keep Smiling”, they were red. If anyone has one or many, I will buy them.

  12. joggerphil Says:

    Just found the pic I took of Ruckasin’s when I visited there a number of years ago. It had been closed for some time, but still had the signs in the windows and the telephone number, too ( EV-1-3223!). I’d post it here, but I’m not sure how to do it! Can it be done? Phil Selden (joggerphil@gmail.com.

  13. Allen Miller Says:

    Here’s some pictures contributed by Jogger Phil Selden. Thanks Phil.

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