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Chicken Pharmacy: 1942

Chicken Pharmacy: 1942

January 1942. "Petaluma, Sonoma County, California. In the chicken pharmacy. Poultry raising exclusively for egg production on a scientific basis." Medium format acetate negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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The sole survivor?

The people at the Petaluma Historical Museum tell me that they have that fowl statue in their collection, on display in their poultry exhibit.

I need something for my Uncle Midge.

Do you have anything for my uncle? You see he thinks he's a chicken. We would have come earlier but we needed the eggs.

No, we don't accept American Eggspress

Presumably this is Dr. David E. Davis himself: the business had been around for nearly two decades when this was taken. And it's a guess, but I'm thinking there was one particular and traditional remedy they didn't prescribe for "patients".

[If this is about the farmer whose cock won't get up in the morning, he's heard it. - Dave]

Yes, I'd like to see about returning a slightly risqué joke: "Is the Adjustments Dept still on the mezzanine?" - N

I need one o' yer fowl remedies

"My hen won't stop sneezing."

"Give her a hen-kerchief. It's only a buck."


I was intrigued to see the name Vineland pop up in Sonoma County in 1942.

Thomas Pynchon gave that title to a novel published in 1990. According to the publisher's blurb, "Vineland, a zone of blessed anarchy in Northern California, is the last refuge of hippiedom." But nobody seems to know just where it is (we Pynchon fans have looked) or how Pynchon came up with the name.

The Chicken Pharmacy sign provides a connection, though a distant one. Veterinarian Arthur Goldhaft, author of 'The Golden Egg', founded Vineland Poultry Laboratories in Vineland, New Jersey, around 1916. Among Goldhaft's accomplishments was a means of shipping vaccines at room temperature, which may explain how his New Jersey products could be marketed nearly three thousand miles away.

So did Pynchon happen on one of these Vineland signs during his California wanderings and pick up the name that perfectly fits the locale in his wild novel? He's not likely to say.

Big Poultry

This prompted me to do some investigating -- apparently Petaluma was once the center of a very large chicken-raising industry and was called the "egg capital of the world".

The "chicken pharmacy" was started in 1923 ("the only drugstore in the world devoted to poultry health"). In 1941 there were 4000 egg farms in Sonoma County.

Customer looks familiar

Could that be Chicken Farmer John?

Which came first?

Little known fact -- CVS began its ascent to retail stardom as Chicken Vaccine Shoppe.

Be the first one on the block!

No, not the chopping block! I want me one of them chicken helmets!!!

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