Posted by: Jack Henry | June 21, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Druggist, Revisited

Good morning!

The other day, I sent out an article about druggists and chemists and pharmacists (Oh my!), and I asked for input from anyone who could verify whether the term you use depends on the region you live in. I received input from a lot of people, including a druggist’s daughter!

Before I respond, I’d like to share our coworker John Ryan’s response because I like the way he phrased things:

It may not be as much regional as generational. I grew up in Southern California seeing and hearing the term “druggist” used as being synonymous with either a pharmacy or a pharmacist. My parents were from the Midwest (Chicago and Cleveland), but it was a common term I heard used in television reruns from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Sheriff Andy Taylor’s girlfriend Ellie was referred to as a druggist on the Andy Griffith Show (originally aired from 1960-1968), as was Mr. Gower in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946). It seems to be a small-town term. Big cities have pharmacists, small towns have druggists. I’ve found current references on the internet to druggists in small towns in Colorado and Ohio. It’s become a quaint term.

I think John is on to something here. What I heard from most folks, across the country, was that in the ‘60s and earlier, it was called a drug store and you’d see the druggist. Something that many people also mentioned was that there aren’t many little drug stores left—it is all Rite Aid and Walgreens and big box stores where the pharmacy is only a tiny part of the establishment.

The other thing that a few of us agree on is that the word “drug” started to have a more negative connotation in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Though not all drugs are bad, Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign started making it sound that way. I suspect that it became more popular to talk about pharmacists as time passed.

Whether it is generational or a blemish on the word “drugs,” I think if you refer to “the druggist” these days, you may be met with an arched eyebrow for a response.

Photo Contest

From G. David Walker, an error on the back of a book jacket.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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