before the ongoing CVS – Walgreen’s Drugstore turf war, a town was happy to have
a single drugstore – delirious if it had two.
In the late 19th Century
drugstores were proof that a town was “civilized.” When a pharmacist opened shop,
it was usually a relief to the town’s overworked physician. Often it was the doctor
himself who opened the drugstore.
Locals always knew where to find the
drugstore. Beside (or alongside) the barber’s pole, the mortar and pestle was
the most recognized sign not needing text.
Pharmacy] was my Dad’s store, and he served as Pharmacist from 1962 till 1988
when he retired. Pharmistists were John Gaudet and my father, Gerald Barrios.
I spend many years at the Pharmacy as a child growing up (the new one was built
in 1965) and the neon sign was on the original store across the street and moved
there when the new store was open. It brought back great memories, and the sign
is such a classic." - Barry Barrios|
products that didn’t need prescriptions (hot-water bottles, etc.) came next –
then the the soda fountain appeared and remained a fixture through the early 60s.
“Lunch counters” competed with cafes in larger towns. After WWII,
paperback book racks appeared – providing books and outside viewpoints that were
beyond the censorship of the town librarian.
It’s debatable whether the
soda fountain or the out of town periodicals created the phenomenon known as the
“drugstore cowboy” but pharmacies were well-lighted and drew young small town
men like moths.
Today’s drugstores compete with groceries and the array
of products runs from lawn furniture, sun block and batteries. A few drugstores
have somehow managed to stay in business, but family owned operations are nearly
A few – like the one in Chico,
Texas, operate as a sort of de facto museum. Other towns (Weimar,
Bastrop and La
Grange) still display their ancient brown apothecary jars – often labeled
in handwritten German or Latin.
most weather-beaten drugstore sign in Texas?|
If your town has a drugstore artifact, take a photo and send
it to firstname.lastname@example.org and
we’ll add it to our drugstore content.
photo essay of drug signage came about from a request from the College of Pharmacy
Continuing Education of UT Austin. (Letter shown below). A call went out from
the home office to Barclay
Gibson and before
long a sizeable file materialized - most of which were included here. Our thanks
go out to Dr. Baumgart for his request, thereby creating this overlooked category
in small town images.
"I work for the College
of Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin. We host a conference each fall
for Pharmacists with an average experience of 25+ years of experience working
in and around Texas. I was looking for images for our conference programs, and
came across a pictures in your [magazine]. I am also interesting in any photos
you may have of old pharmacies drug or store signs and buildings. This year's
conference is our 60th year, and I felt it would be great to include older photos.
Thank you in advance for your consideration."
"I cannot thank you enough for the photos and your generosity. We will add
the photos to our website when we redo the site this summer, and will use a few
photos on our program. I have to admit, the best part of all this is finding your
[magazine]. I am a history nut, and I love to find the out-of-the-way historic
places in small towns. I used to record photos like yours when growing up in Indiana,
loved finding the little histories and stories. I'll be a regular visitor to Texas
Escapes and use it as a guide on future road trips. Thanks for all the hard
work. I greatly appreciate such a great find." - Glen Baumgart, PhD Director
College of Pharmacy Continuing Education The University of Texas at Austin,
April 19, 2012
I Die Next Year, He Said |
by Ken Rudine
Very few people under age
30 today understand that pharmacies of the past held a position of trust in our
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
and vintage/historic photos, please contact
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