Need A Fill Of Drugstore History? Try Tucson's Pharmacy Museum The centerpiece of the History of Pharmacy Museum is a penny candy jar filled with old wads of gum allegedly chewed by the infamous gangster John Dillinger and stuck under a pharmacy counter.
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Need A Fill Of Drugstore History? Try Tucson's Pharmacy Museum

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Need A Fill Of Drugstore History? Try Tucson's Pharmacy Museum

Need A Fill Of Drugstore History? Try Tucson's Pharmacy Museum

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491024839/491024840" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And this summer, we're taking you to little known places that are hard to forget, unsung museums.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: For a peek into the history of drugstores, there's the Pharmacy Museum. It's located at the University of Arizona in Tucson. A hand-carved wood prescription counter helps recreate the look of a small-town pharmacy in the 1800s, and some of the old-timey medicines give you a sense of what the place must have smelled like. Here's curator Richard Wiedhopf.

RICHARD WIEDHOPF, BYLINE: There's a compound that's called asafoetida. The common name is devil's dung. It has a terrible smell. People would hang it around their neck to prevent contagious disease because, hey, you didn't want to be around somebody who smelled like that.

MONTAGNE: But the centerpiece of the Pharmacy Museum is a penny candy jar filled with old, used wads of gum allegedly chewed by the infamous gangster John Dillinger. In the 1930s, Dillinger ate at a drugstore lunch counter in downtown Tucson.

WIEDHOPF: And when he was served, he took the gum out of his mouth and stuck it under the counter. About a day or two later, the headline in the Tucson paper was John Dillinger Arrested. And so this pharmacist scraped all the gum off under the counter where Dillinger was sitting, put it in a jar, and we have that on display in the museum.

MONTAGNE: Richard Wiedhopf says there's no way of knowing if the Pharmacy Museum specimens are really chewed by Dillinger. But that's their story, and they're sticking to it.

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