Category Archives: History

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