The cool inside of a drugstore reminds me of childhood summer days when air conditioning was new.
We would take a city bus downtown from our neighborhood along Vance Avenue in Alexandria. Regardless of the destination there was the adventure of a bus ride.
The bus took me to the drugstore, the movies, Kress and Wellan’s department store where I rarely bought anything but thrilled to the artic zephyrs of air conditioning and the smells of leather, perfume, worn wooden floors, dust, the elevator and the shoppers as their motion cut wakes in this sea of smells.
The drugstore had its own smells, repeats of leather, old floors, dust, ashtrays and sweating customers.
Goods at the drugstore were there to make you feel better or look better, make your hair shine or curl or straighten, make your feet smell better, hurt less and, with the insertion of lifts beneath the feet, make you taller.
There was a scale that had approximated the weight of half the people in town. Children weighed themselves to hear the penny drop through the scale’s metal guts. We had no idea what we weighed.
There was medicine, too. The scary visit to the doctor was over. You would live. Whatever the man in white behind the tall counter was handing down to your mother would ensure your survival.
If the trip to the doctor had been of sufficient trauma, there was a toy you might have if you selected quickly because buses ran on time, then.
The other day, in the grips of a sinus headache, I walked into a drugstore looking for a quick release from pain.
From long habit, I took a circuitous route to the sinus hokum.
I visited the magazines, the display of pens and notebooks, summer offerings of inflatable balls and rafts, beach umbrellas, flip-flops and lotions with 10 to 100 times the power to block sunlight, according to the label.
There was a man waiting on a prescription outside the pharmacy. I wondered if he had one of those illnesses for which the drugstore has no real or imagined cure.
I hoped not, but there comes a time when there are no antidotes for the diseases we dread. I hoped, too, the man was not relying on a bus to take him home.
The buses in our city are infrequent. The places provided for passengers to wait are not places you want to sit long, especially in the heat or cold or when it’s raining.
In the spring, it’s not so bad waiting for a bus in Baton Rouge if you’re not in a hurry or if you’re in such robust health that you take buses to the drugstore just to walk through the breezes of oscillating fans.
I passed oscillating fans blowing streamers of paper, hair goo, deodorants and deodorizes.
I left the drugstore empty handed. The visit to a favorite place had eased the headache.