a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A fast-talking druggist with powerful potions

M.C. McCallister claimed to have had a desire to spend most of his time honing his pharmaceutical skills in the late 1800s. Rest assured, McCallister was in “love with his profession,” he boasted in an advertisement for his drug store in downtown Monongahela, Pa.

Yet he dressed a woman, shown above, in a ridiculous costume that sported sponges on her head and dress, tonic bottles around her waist and big white puffballs across her bosom.

The ad went on to ensure that he “uses only the freshest and purest drugs and chemicals, and exercises the most discriminating intelligence and skill in all the operations of accurate prescription compounds.”

A native of Tippecanoe, Fayette County, McCallister was a master of the art of self promotion. While he claimed to have devoted his career to dispensing the right drugs, he also found the time to serve as president of the nearby Courtney Fire Brick Co., treasurer of the Monongahela Electric Light Co., director of a First National Bank and secretary of the local Methodist Episcopal church. There must have been some strong energy potions that he was cooking up behind his drug counter.

The portrait of the dark and scary woman, along with the ad, are displayed in a new Monongahela Area Historical Society museum at 230 W. Main St. that is open for limited hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

(Hey, send us a photo and information about any "signz" that crack you up and we'll consider adding them to our collection)

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