Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Today, January 12, is National Pharmacists' Day. The first pharmacist I knew was Herbert Feldsher of Feldsher's Pharmacy on High Ridge Road in Stamford. He was a tall, austere gent with a moustache. He could be cordial, but he also had an annoying habit of stalking down to the magazines where I was communing with the always-friendly Playboy centerfold. How rude!

Did he use that classic line, "This isn't a library, son"? Probably. But what did he expect me to do, buy it? Anyway, I got a little better at waiting until Herbert was busy filling prescriptions. And I probably bought my share of Wrigley's Spearmint gum to compensate.

Funny thing about his name. I recently came across the word "feldsher" as a common noun somewhere. And it means, almost, "pharmacist": a medical or surgical practitioner without full professional qualifications. From feld + scherer: field shearer, like those medieval barbers who were kind-of doctors (see Steve Martin on old SNL sketch). Anyway, almost a Joseph Hellerish name for a pharmacist character, Feldsher.

Which brings me to pharmacy. Often when I take the one-block walk over to Walgreen's, I gaze at the big red sign PHARMACY and idly indulge, hardly knowing I'm doing it, in my obsessive habit of anagramming. But the word is so ripe. So I cobbled together a poem, or a kind of comic strip without the art. It may help to imagine a soldier at the drugstore with a strange ailment and several squabbling pharmacists serving him.


Army chap,
march, yap:
"Hay cramp!
Achy armp—"
Archy: "AMP!"
Cry: "Ha! AMP
may parch,
harm y', Cap!"
(Chary Pam.)
Marcy: "Pah!"
(Charm...) "Pay,
Champ!" Ray:
"Ah, my. Crap."
"Ach! Mr. Yap!"
Mac: "Harpy!"

(Army chap:

1 comment:

  1. My father's name is Herman, not Herbert. My sister Barbara and I practically grew up in the pharmacy. Our mom Vera worked there full time. Thanks for the memories!
    Debbie Feldsher Kaplan