Nice story, Frank. Pharmacists were local heroes for many folks and for many years and helped direct me towards the profession. The men I interned with in the early 70's were like extended family members to their patients and patrons alike and knew enough about each individual, their whims and wackiness, that the service was always customized as often were the prices. I guess I can talk now: my mentors had a pricing schedule you could best describe as the Robin Hood model and those in a bind often paid less than those living high on the hog for the same prescription. This was way before copays and mail-order discounters. My experience with most pharmacists of Sam's era is that they practiced with their hearts first and somehow managed to make a decent living. All this changed around 1980 with the advent of managed care, supermarkets and other trends which made the corner store obsolete and financially difficult to operate. Only 1 of my several friends who opened their own pharmacy still owns and operates it and it was his father's before it was his in Bakersfield:Tough price to pay for autonomy.
Like dinosaurs, the corner pharmacy we all knew is gone partly because all the free service and information provided there couldn't be added to the bottom line and someone, someplace had a pharmacy willing to do more for less in exchange for more customers coming in the front door. It critically backfired when the insurance companies cut professional fees and never looked seriously at paying for all that free advise than now only cut into "production" time including a pharmacist's countless hours on the phone, to the exclusion of other duties, arguing for a patient's right to a given medication or a $1.50 fee for a $400 bottle of Lipitor
So for those who still have a warm spot in your heart and memories of your pharmacist, cherish them...Those days are gone and the genie to get htem back, trapped in a child-prof container.