The Kaegi Pharmacy first opened its doors in 1921 at the corner of Northeast 51st and Sandy Blvd. in Portland, eventually moving to Wilsonville. Brothers John and Richard Kaegi took over management of the pharmacy in 1957 where the store remained in the Kaegi family until 1989.
The brothers collected many of the items that are on display today.
Pharmacies were more than just places to purchase medicine. These stores were local gathering spots that also served as soda fountains and a one stop-shop for many different items. Soap, Sewing Supplies, Cologne, and even stamps could be found at many pharmacies for much of the 20th century.
Just as they are now, pharmacies contained not just prescription medications, but were also the place where you could find herbal and patent “medicines”, such as Lydia Pinkham's Tonic which was a commonly used remedy that was made mostly of water, alcohol and sugar. These patent medicines could be considered the modern-day equivalent of diet pills and detox teas.
Pharmacists themselves were trained professionals and skilled practitioners who often mixed or “compounded” specific medications. While the bottles of medicine on the wall may seem dated and even dangerous, in most cases these medicines represented the best medical science of the time. Elixir of heroin, cocaine, morphine and other narcotics were regularly dispensed but regulated by both pharmacists and doctors thanks to the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act. In 1951 when the Durham-Humphrey Amendment to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act was passed, pharmacists were no longer allowed to fill many medications without a signed doctor’s prescription. As a result, their role shifted toward ensuring drug safety and dispensing.
As medical science has developed and new treatments have evolved these practices have fallen out of favor; although in many cases the underlying idea of the treatment of an illness may be correct. For example many antibiotics you see on the shelf today have some of the same ingredients as their earlier versions.
Medicine remains a controversial subject today and pharmacies continue to be on the forefront of political and social life. Over-the-counter birth control and vaccinations are a few examples of topics that are still just as controversial in the communities pharmacies serve.