Fifty years. Six days a week. X number of prescriptions each day. Pharmacist Sam Glover can’t even guess how many he’s filled since he graduated from Samford University with his pharmacy degree. (He was in the last senior class at Howard College …
Fifty years. Six days a week. X number of prescriptions each day. Pharmacist Sam Glover can’t even guess how many he’s filled since he graduated from Samford University with his pharmacy degree. (He was in the last senior class at Howard College before the school changed its name to Samford.)
The Alabama Board of Pharmacy has recognized him with a plaque for his half-century achievement, possibly making him Walker County’s longest continuous-practicing pharmacist. But he started off on a different path: He’d taken two years of pre-med but decided against continuing. “I was working at a service station,” he recalls, “and a customer who was a drug salesman told me I ought to consider enrolling in pharmacy school at Howard. So I did, and it all started from there.”
Nowadays, five stores in all have grown from that gas-pump conversation. Glover worked at three different pharmacies before going out on his own in 1969. The first store was Glover Drugs, located in Sumiton where the town’s post office stands today. Now Sam Glover Drugs is in downtown Jasper, and his son Ken operates four other stores — one in Dora, one in Cordova and two others at Urgent Care Northwest and Baptist Medical Center in Jasper.
“Ken’s a better businessman than I am,” he adds.
“Starting our first business was hard,” Glover says. “I didn’t have any money. I remember putting merchandise on the shelves sideways so it would look like they were full.”
Having fewer customers was an advantage in one way, though: “Back then I could remember everybody’s name after the first time they came in. Then it got to be every second or third time, and today there are just too many to remember.”
Glover is reminded of his half-century mark when he sees second and third generations of customers. “Somebody will say, ‘I used to come to your store with my grandmother,’ and if they have children of their own, that makes four generations.”
Today’s pharmacies seem like a different world from the old days, he says. “One of the biggest changes is in the number of drugs available. Back then we had mainly antibiotics like penicillin, the sulfa drugs and then the Mycin drugs came out. So many kinds of pain pills now, that were nonexistent back then. We mainly had codeine and morphine.”
The process of filling prescriptions was a lot more physical work, too, Glover says. Patients’ records were kept in paper folders. Drug labels were typed on old-fashioned typewriters before being glued into place. “I got to where I could type and talk on the phone at the same time,” he jokes. “Nowadays we’ve got computers. They do it all. As long as they don’t quit working.”
Other new additions at the Dora store are durable medical goods and diabetes supplies, with a registered nurse on staff to give vaccinations.
A less-welcome change (and headache) has been the involvement of insurance companies, he says. “Sometimes I tell people that when I get sick I just go to the insurance companies, because it seems like they know what I have before the doctor does.”
After opening his first store, he and his wife Sarah (they’ve been married 51 years) worked for more than three years without an off-day. “I don’t want it to be like that for Ken, so I come in and help out when I can,” Glover says. Nowadays, his commute to work is about one minute — he lives just across the highway from the Dora store.
When he’s not working at the store, Glover works at collecting. Collecting his antique cameras is a popular pastime, but he has another passion: claw hammers. It started innocently enough, he says. “I couldn’t find my hammer, so I saw one at a flea market and bought it. Then I got another one, and another one and it just kind of snowballed from there.” His hammer-count now stands at roughly three thousand. “I guess I’m just weird that way,” he says. His wife Sarah recently gave him a hint about the collection. She bought him a utility building to store it in.
“I could have been a carpenter,” he says, “but I couldn’t have made a living at it. So I sold drugs instead.” He’s done some woodworking over the years, but has recently taken a sabbatical from it. When he’s not working or collecting, he and his wife enjoy spending time with their two sons and daughter and their six grandchildren, most of whom live in the Atlanta area. Sarah was youth pastor at Sumiton Church of God before her retirement, though she still teaches Sunday School and Bible classes.
Closer to home, Sam and Sarah enjoy spending time with their 8-year-old dog, a Yorkshire terrier named Ellie.
“I’ve had some health problems and I don’t walk her as much as I used to,” he says, “but she’s happy for me just to lie on the floor and pet her back. I spend the first 30 minutes of every day with her.”
One thing that sets Ellie apart is her particular taste in food. “In the morning, she eats sliced turkey with grated cheese on it, but it has to be heated in the microwave first. For supper she eats dog food. But not unless I sit on the floor and hand it to her.
“I guess you could say she’s spoiled. She tells us when to wake up and when to go to sleep. Yeah, Miss Ellie really rules the roost.”
Dale Short’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org