Harry Baals and Butt Drugs

Did I get your attention?

A couple of weekends ago I traveled to Corydon, Indiana with a couple of friends.  We went to visit a drug store.  Why drive 3 hours to a drugs store?  Because it’s Butt Drugs, that’s why!  One of the locksmiths at work told me about it and how he and his girlfriend now have “I ❤ (heart) Butt Drugs” t-shirts.  And because I have the sense of humor of a juvenile boy, I thought it was funny and a good excuse for a road trip.

As it turned out, Corydon is a historic town.  It was the first capital of Indiana.  So I got a lot more out of the trip than I expected, but it also reminded me of Harry Baals (last name pronounced just like you think, balls, though the family name pronounces it bales).    There was much to-do online and among my Facebook friends a few months ago over this former mayor who was in contention to have a government building in Fort Wayne, IN named after him.  Despite being a well-respected local politician in the 1930s, the city did not want the ridicule and jokes that would come with using his name.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who works in a public library posted on Facebook that a patron came up to her and told her that her shirt looked gay.  In today’s slang, saying something is gay is meant to be derogatory.  However,  the lady who said it was older and meant it as a compliment, that my friend’s shirt was bright or lively.  She was using the word gay like it would have been used in the 1930s.

I’m by no means an expert on slang, but I think it is interesting how names and words can change their meaning over time.  The Butt family who owns the drug store have embraced the comedic aspect that comes with a store called Butt Drugs and probably does a better business than most mom & pop stores that have a more “normal” name attached to their store.  And I think it is sad that honorable people with what are now unfortunate names can’t get the recognition due them, such as having a civic building named after them, because current leaders worry about public ridicule.

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet

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4 responses to “Harry Baals and Butt Drugs

  1. This is great! That’s awesome that these places led you and your friends to take a roadtrip. About ten years ago when my family and I were traveling by car to Colorado we went through South Dakota. On the road we kept seeing signs for Wall Drug, which early on was a place where travelers could get free ice cold water to beat the dry summer heat. It’s something of a roadside attration now in South Dakota. Ever since that trip, I’ve seen a several bumper stickers saying Wall Drug of South Dakota.

    • I know about Wall Drugs, too. I hadn’t heard of it until I was driving truck and we saw some signs for it. I’ve heard there are advertisements for Wall Drugs as far away as Great Britain! Reminds me of seeing billboards for Bronner’s, which is in Frankenmuth, MI, down in Florida. I love to visit crazy stuff like that.
      I’m in Glenn Harper’s history of American architecture class now and one of the undergrad groups just did a presentation on roadside & mimetic architecture. That has prompted me to look for some roadside attractions like they discussed to give me something to go see this summer. I don’t know why I love this kind of stuff, but I do.

  2. Road trips are always a great way to experience places that you might not otherwise see. The side trips that come out of searching for gas are usually what lead me to them, but this is a great story! They probably get excited to know that word-of-mouth brings people to their door?!

  3. I’ve been to Corydon several times. When I was driving back and forth to Evansville (I went to the University of Evansville), I often stopped there as my midpoint. A friend of mine at UE was from Corydon, and sometimes I met up with Mom and Dad there.

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