A Trip Inside the Corner Drugstore
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A lighthearted look at a fading American institution and the products found on its shelves. Staten (Ol’ Diz: A Biography of Dizzy Dean, 1992; Did Monkeys Invent the Monkey Wrench?, not reviewed; etc.), who fondly remembers the corner drugstore of his own youth, briefly recounts the history of this fixture of American small-town life as “pharmacy and apothecary, drugstore and general store, prescription center and community center, soda fountain and social hub.” However, the greater part of his attention is devoted not to the institution itself but to its merchandise. Starting with the head and working his way down to the feet, Staten profiles selected items from aspirin to corn removers. Hair products, especially hair restorers, seem to have a special fascination for the balding Staten, who inserts regular reports on his personal experience with Rogaine (yes, he grew some hair, but not nearly enough). Among the capsule histories included here are those of dandruff shampoos, toothpaste, Band-Aids, Vaseline, condoms, and diapers. The curious can discover how Maybelline and Ben-Gay got their names and the real people behind Lydia Pinkham’s Herbal Compound and Dr. Scholl’s Foot-Eazers. Inexplicably, Staten adds an appendix listing the addresses of the 71 remaining drugstores in the country bearing the name Corner Drug. Rather less than a social history and far from comprehensive, but full of entertaining if trivial facts presented with good humor.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1998
ISBN: 0-684-83485-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998