Since it was my first job as a real Pharmacist I guess
I started my official career there. (I started working in
a Pharmacy at age 17 as a clerk, later an intern at West
End Drugs in Birminham, AL for Ted Jones. It was a GREAT
learning experience and one I'll always cherish. Mr. Jones was
the best boss one could have for a first boss. But more on
West End later.).
Barnes was in rural south Georgia....really drawl that out.
Most would ask me what part of the North I was from and
I would reply "Birmingham" and they'd nod as if that would
explain it. I'd later tell them I was born in Atlanta to make me
feel more like I was FROM Georgia.
I learned quickly that while Georgia football is big in all parts
of the state it is nowhere near as large as Alabama/Auburn and
the Alabama/Auburn jokes fall flat so don't bother telling them.
I learned from Tommy (his full name was Thomas
Jefferson Barnes III and his mother was horrified when
they named their son Mark. Tommy, then in his late 40's,
refused to have a son being called "Tommy"
as he was as a grown man!) to listen. Many "customers" would
come into the store much too poor to go to a doctor and
would tell Tommy, or later me as they did come to trust
me, their problems. We'd fix them up with something
over the counter if we could and most of the time we
could. I watched a LOT of times as Tommy who lived
his Christianity gave them money if they needed
to visit a doctor. I learned about
Christianity too. Not just Pharmacy.
Now we did get the customers who would complain
that the Maalox or whatever was cheaper in Brunswick
at K-Mart (or wherever - remember this was
before Wal-Mart -late 70's!). Now Brunswick was a
good 50 mile drive away.
And it wasn't like we were pricing it at $100.00 a
bottle. You win some
and you lose some.
I love the old independent pharmacies. We've really
lost these. Chains have put them almost out of business.
Well, chains and insurance companies.
We would deliver the medicine to those who were to sick to
come get it. When's the last time a chain drugstore did
that for you? And forget having to go to a fancy
compounding Pharmacy if your doctor has written you a
prescription that has to be made up. Most independent
pharmacies (ALL I worked for) are well set up to
make the medicine for you. (Now I did have to call Tommy
to come help me make suppositories one day. I just
could not get the things to come out right. He taught
me how to make them. I didn't ever get them right
in Pharmacy school either. Think styrofoam
consistency and you have mine. They'd bounce well
but not much else. There is a trick to making them!).
Sandworms. We don't have those in Birmingham.
I learned about them in Baxley. I don't think they're
really called "sandworms" officially (I've googled
that and all I get is "Dune"). It's some sort of REAL worm
though and folks that go barefoot in the sandy soil get these
worms that crawl under the skin - well, the first time someone
came into the store and asked me for something to kill it
my eyes bugged out of my head. Tommy calmly poured some
wormkiller in a bottle, told them to put it on it 3 times a day
and it would die. And they did. (You could also drink the stuff but
it seemed to work by just absorbing it through the skin).
You could see the little worms crawling around.
I learned about pinworms, lice and ringworms
that summer as well.
The Finkelsteins owned pretty much the rest of the
businesses in Baxley. I learned every Jewish holiday.
We were the only store open in town on those days.
Except for the bakery behind our store. The bakery
lead to a big problem for me when I finally became
pregnant with Matthew. I never had any morning
sickness with Matthew. But I stayed hungry.
Ever park your car in the morning beside a BAKERY
and walk two blocks to work smelling the good
things BAKING? I gained 48 pounds. He weighed
9 lbs 7 oz; 22 inches long at birth. I starved
poor Michael to death vowing NEVER to gain
that much again.
Except for the worms, it's been fun remembering!
And the Cokes were only 10 cents.