Aw, Just Take It!


Interior of vintage pharmacy, similar to Ludwig’s Drug Store

Ludwig’s Drug Store sat smack in the hub of activity of Main Street.  On a busy day, there might be ten or twelve residents going about their business downtown, a couple of them dogs.  Mr Ludwig could easily have been mistaken for Alfred Hitchcock.

The drug store was dark, mysterious, and strange-smelling.  I always imagined the back room held bodies of children who’d gotten into medicine they shouldn’t have,  courtesy of Mother’s warnings to stay out of the medicine cabinet.  Why would they make those Childrens Bayer Aspirin so tempting if they were dangerous?  Ever after my sampling, Mother just cut the big ones down.

I don’t know that I ever heard Mr. Ludwig say more than “That’ll be a dollar twelve cents,” until one of the Bumgadrner kids came in while we were waiting for our order.

“My mama wants a bottle of Asfoetida, and she said put it on the bill,” Freddie Bumgardner announced.

Mr Ludwig got his charge pad out and looked hard at Freddie for just a minute before snapping  it shut.  “Aw just take it.  I ain’t gonna try to spell Bumgardner and Asfoetida in one day!”

Asfoedita is a foul-smelling herb used to treat colic and was put in bags to be hung around the neck to ward of disease in previous generations.  Its foul smell probably kept people at sufficient distance to avoid contagion.