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January 2, 2008 > Hayward History

Hayward History

Another Type of Recipe Book!

By Hayward Area Historical Society & Museums

When we say the word "recipe," don't you automatically think "food"? There are recipe books for every type of food imaginable, using all sorts of different ingredients. But what about a recipe using boiled linseed oil and kerosene, or how about clove and peppermint oil? What kind of recipe uses those ingredients? The first one is for floor oil and the second for toothache drops and the recipes for both, at one time, would have been used by a pharmacist at your local drug store. The Hayward Area Historical Society has several examples of these books that were used at the popular Hayward Drug Store. These books are a fascinating glimpse into a time and place before everything we use daily came prepackaged and when a "recipe" was needed for everything from hair tonic to headache powder.

There were always several drug stores to choose from in downtown Hayward. At one time, as many as eight different ones in a four block radius. One of them was the Hayward Drug Store on B Street, a Hayward institution for close to a hundred years. The recipe books were handed down from pharmacist to pharmacist beginning with Ernest Sprondli who owned the store from 1890 to 1915. Newton Gray owned the store from 1915 to 1920 and added more recipes before passing it on to Reginald H. Bowman when he purchased the business in June 1920. The Bowman family operated the store until the early 1970s. The various pharmacists gathered the recipes from other druggists and reference books accumulating, in some cases, several different versions of the same recipe. Several of them contain further notations noting an adjustment to an ingredient here or there. The recipes are for medicines for humans and animals, household cleaning solutions, and food products.

Here's a list of just some of the recipes included: ant poison, spray for burns, chicken diarrheic, chicken tonic, and chicken bronchial spray [remember Hayward was a big poultry producing region], chicken pox remedy, cold cream, floor oil, Dr. Grant's Skin Paste, itch remedy, invisible ink, liniment, poison oak ointment, polish remover, pain powder, rabbit tonic, shaving lotion, sunburn lotion, sheep ointment, blackberry cordial, asthma powder, bathing fluid, bay rum, blue ointment for chickens, blister ointment, corn cure, cleaning fluid, children's cough syrup, tasteless castor oil, witch hazel cream, calamine lotion, laxative, depilatory powder, vanilla extract, essence of Jamaica ginger, sarsaparilla syrup, colored fires in various colors, soda foam, flea extermination, universal gargle solution, hair tonic, head lotion, colorless iodine, ice cream, incense for churches, insect bites, dysentery mixture, baking powder, Bright's headache powder, rose water, strawberry syrup (also lemon, raspberry, pineapple, ginger, vanilla, nectar, coffee, chocolate, sarsaparilla), liquid shampoo, toothache drops, shoe white, whooping cough, and wart remedy. There are also several "cheat sheets" for measurements and other pharmaceutical notations.

Drug stores were integral to a community not only because they provided a necessary service but also because they became social gathering places. With the introduction of Prohibition in 1920 soda fountains filled the void left by the closing of saloons, providing a cold beverage and social interaction. It was the smart drug store owner, most often the pharmacist behind the counter, who installed a soda fountain in these years. It also provided a good place for customers to wait while their prescriptions were being filled. Mixing a good fountain drink was similar to mixing the correct ingredients for medications so the fit was a natural one which is why there are so many recipes included in these books for flavored syrups. Some drug stores, like the Hayward Drug Store, also offered services like photo processing, another natural fit given the use of chemicals in the development process.

In the day and age when we order our prescription medicines through the computer, buy ant poison at a hardware store, and can barely remember the days when soda fountains were a natural extension of the corner drug store, these recipe books are great evidence of the pivotal role pharmacists once played in people's every day lives.

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