Chester Arthur was president the year Dr. J.H. Horsnyder opened and Medical on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz.
Arthur, who didn't run for a second term because of failing health, could have used the store's expertise. At a time when drug stores seem to be the biggest growth industry in town, Horsnyder is the grand daddy of the business.
The store has had two locations on Pacific Avenue before moving to Seabright in 1976 and then to 1226 Soquel Ave in 1986. Now it has a fresh new exterior, helped by funding from now-extinct redevelopment funds.
In 1976 it was bought by the Leo Leal and is now run by his son Tim, 44, a once-aspiring musician who decided taking his father's business was the best way to raise a family and stay in what he considers a cultural mecca.
Wednesday's celebration will include a ribbon cutting by Mayor Don Lane, music by the band Shelter, refreshments, a display of historical items, raffles to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank and a live radio broadcast with Charlie Freedman and historian Sandy Lydon, on KSCO-AM (1080).
Why such an odd year to celebrate?
"Frankly, we have more competition here in town than we've ever had," says Leal. "We want to thank our customers and let people know what we offer."
Drug chains such as Walgreens and CVS have moved in and Costco carries some similar products, but Leal says what his 27 employees offer is service and knowledge.
"We even make house calls."
The medical supply business is healthy, he says, because insurance companies aren't paying for long hospital stays, so people have to take care of themselves at home. Some of his biggest sellers include convenience chairs, which have machinery that helps people move from sitting to standing.
Foot care and back care products are also big, he says, "because everyone has foot or back pain." And while it may be cheaper to buy some of those products on the Internet, they don't come with the knowlege his employees can share.
"You can't kick the tires on a web page," he says. "You can't be sure that what you are getting is what you asked for.
"We really think of ourselves as a resource center more than a retail store."
Indeed his staff makes house calls to set up and back up the medical supplies they sell. They will also help customers navigate the maze of insurance company requirements.
"We can tell you not just two ways to skin a cat, but six ways, if that's what it takes."
Leal is a Santa Cruz native who attended Santa Cruz High and Cabrillo College and pondered a career in music, playing percussion to the Latin sounds he loved. He was exposed to the music in local clubs, something that cemented his love for Santa Cruz – the diversity and richness of the culture available in town.
"Yeah, it was nice and quiet before the University came here, but would you sacrifice all that for quiet? If you want quiet, you can move to Fort Bragg. The culture is what keeps people here. There's no more fishing industry, but there's no telling what kind of music and art you can come across here.
"Anyone who doesn't appreciate Open Studios in October is really missing something. Then, there's the White Album Ensemble playing Beatles' songs live better than the Beatles could."
His business may not be the oldest in the city, but it's right up there. That gives him a real feel for history.
Horsnyder's predates the Statue of Liberty and surfing. The Statue was just a foundation in 1884.
And it was a year before anyone surfed on the mainland. The first surfers here were some Hawaiian princes who stood on boards where the San Lorenzo River meets the sea in 1885.
"We're a couple of years older than Coca-Cola," says Leal.