Civil War Transcendence: Part 38


I gasped as I read the headline. I couldn’t read the fine print of the article, since I didn’t have my glasses with me when I entered this realm.

I quickly utilized the back pages of the paper for cleaning up…and hoped they didn’t deal with the story on page one.

I got my wardrobe back on, stuffed the paper in the top of my trousers, and proceeded through the back door of the hardware store.  I asked the clerk if he had any glasses that I could borrow, but he was too young to have vision problems.  I asked where I could possibly find any glasses.

“The Apothecary might have some,” he said, “down at the end of the block – cattycornered from the bank.”

I thanked him and hurried out.

I quickly walked to the end of the block, doffing my hat to any lady or couple I met along the way. The men in return touched the brims of their hats in response; so, I knew I was performing the correct cultural greetings for this century.

38 apothecary bottles

I entered the Apothecary and was immediately struck dumb. I had seen so many old pictures of the insides of these establishments, but to be in one for real was amazing.

I slowly walked along the glass counters on one side of the room viewing all the remarkable items for sale. There were medicines of every description in small bottles, with larger medicine jars on shelves behind the counter. On the far side of the room was an elaborate wooden wall of shelving with drawers from the floor to about waist high that were filled with packets of medicines for daily use.

From the waist to almost the ceiling was shelving with medicinal products for sale. At what I will describe as the checkout counter were various jars of hard candy, such as peppermint sticks. I was being eyeballed by the three men behind the counters as I made my cursory inspection of the store. They all converged on me when I finally asked if they had any reading glasses.

38 eyeglasses

They only had one pair in the store for sale at the time. Apparently there wasn’t much demand for this type of reading instrument in this part of Virginia.  I tried on the glasses. They were a tight fit. I asked for a bottle of one of the medicines to see if I could read the small print. Once I squinted, utilizing the glasses, I could make out the medicinal wording.

I acted shocked when they quoted me $5.00 for the glasses, and I finally negotiated them down to $3.00. I paid with the specie supplied by the hardware store and set out to find a quiet place to read the purloined newspaper.


About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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