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People's People: 1921

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "People's Drug Store group, 7th and K Streets." The folks behind (and in front of) the vibrator display seen in this post. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "People's Drug Store group, 7th and K Streets." The folks behind (and in front of) the vibrator display seen in this post. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Numbered boxes

In the mid 1960s, I worked in a pharmacy in Philadelphia that used that kind of box as storage for old prescriptions.

Numbered boxes

Intrigued by the numbered boxes along the perimeter near the ceiling. Does anyone know what they're for?

Does anyone know

I'm collecting pictures of Peoples and anything regarding it. Does anyone know which number store this was?

[The LOC National Photo Company has several shots identified as being at 7th & K, but the exteriors are of two different buildings. One, on a corner, has "No. 1" on the sign, the other has "No. 2". - tterrace]

Photo Finish

This is Diane Arbus territory from top to bottom -- and all of them look like serial killers to me. That's why the fellow up in the rafters is laughing: he's in on the joke. If this had been a funeral home instead of a drug store, it would have been perfect. As it is, the thought of stopping by here for some casual shopping would be impossible, knowing that these people would be standing around the store watching me and waiting to be "of service."


1 - My first thought is one of compassion... for the mothers that some of those heads were birthed by. Gah! Another epidural here!

2 - Everyone is wearing the same shoes?

Beauty is in the eye of the surfer

You guys are so mean! I don't think this group is all that odd or ugly-looking (except maybe the ears of the little chap on the far left; I have to agree on that point). Someone implied in their post that people today were better looking on average, but as Jerry Seinfeld once said to Elaine, "have you been down to the the Department of Motor Vehicles lately? It's a leper colony down there!" At least all these guys are dressed smartly and none are fat slobs. I'm just saying.


To the Edward Gorey Hypo-Cod Dispensary.

The Straight Man

The guy third from the left is the only one who even looks like he has a chance of being normal. It looks like the perfect cast for a TV sitcom or perhaps a musical Vaudeville dark comedy act.

Tim Burton's dream store

Random Observations:

I actually jumped a little in my chair when I noticed the creepster in the upper right corner. Holy jeez.

I wonder if it's a family who owns and runs the place, the ears are all eerily similar. (Pun intended.)

Is that Ms. Bara above and slightly to the right of the word "pens"?

I'm always amazed at prices: alarm clocks from $3-7, and you can still get them at Walmart for $5.

In this corner

I'd bet money the guy on the right is a boxer. That's a broken nose and those eyes were black a week ago. At that time Convention Hall Market a couple blocks away was a premier boxing venue.

I'm drooling

looking at those hand-painted signs, all freehand and perfect, my dream was to be a signmaker, too late, wrong era.

Swept away

Certainly the most beguiling (or maybe the only) display of whisk brooms that I've ever seen.

Erm, I'll come back later

All of these people look like maniacs. Seriously -- is it just the lighting?

Part Time Boxers

I can't help thinking as I look at the noses here that most of these guys either founds themselves in a lot of fights as kids or spent some time boxing. It's interesting to note the beginning of the disposable plastics era -- the push here of the DuPont Pyralin celluloid "Material of a Thousand Uses" products. I keep thinking, somewhere there is a traveling Dupont Pyralin Ivory salesman driving home who can't wait to tell his buddies how he scored the deal of a lifetime down in D.C.

"Just the Facts Ma'am"

The fellow second from the right looks like Jack Webb, AKA Sgt. Friday from Dragnet!

You think these folks

are strange, you should see Igor in the back room!


The really scary thought here is that this random sample of individuals is probably representative of the population at that time.

It's moida, I tell ya

And one of yems da moidera!

By a head

This is, without a doubt, the largest collection of large-headed people I have ever seen. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Like others, I scanned from left to right. I was completely taken aback by the guy on the far left, until I moved farther to the right. Then I reached the end of the line. Enough said.

Call for Kiwi

Shoe polish might be a big seller. Just a thought.

My photo caption

would have read "Aliens disguised as earthlings pose with the mother of Norman Bates." The word "surreal" is greatly overused today, but it absolutely fits if you look at this picture close-up. Weird I tell ya, very weird.

[That's something a lot of people comment on in these unsynchronized magnesium-powder exposures. The photographer opens the shutter before igniting the powder, so the shot catches people with their eyes open when it flashes, and then closed, if they blink. The result is a kind of double exposure with eyelids superimposed over eyeballs, which gives people that glazed-zombie look. Plus of course there is the fact that some of these people are just plain odd-looking. - Dave]

I'm sure that

the guy on the left inspired a Chester Gould character.

Pre-depression years

It would be interesting to know how many of the companies represented by the products on display in this store survived the long Great Depression.

Watch Out!

Someone please tell the pleasant looking gentleman on the top left that a shady character is coming from the corner to take him out! Possibly in cahoots with the photographer?

Coif, coif

They should have found someone to tidy up the woman's hair after her exhumation.

Hypo-Cod peeper!

I see a peeper in the upper right corner. Another great pic, thanks.

Hands Out

Nowadays half the hands would be buried in pockets.


Never mind Jay Leno. I'm pretty sure that's Buster Keaton in the top right.

Dress Code

When was the last time you saw clerks in your local drug store wearing three-piece suits?

Very handsome

The man third from the left is handsome even by modern standards and his stance looks athletic. There is a Peter Lorre lookalike peeking in on the extreme upper right!

You Rang?

I was looking at the full-size version of this photo, having only glanced at first at the smaller version. My, that fellow 4th from the left is tall, isn't he? I slowly scrolled the screen from left to right, gazing upon each face until I got to the last one and ... AAAAHHHHHH!!! I think I jumped back in my chair! My, he's, um, big. Between his size, the expression on his face and his closer proximity to the camera, he certainly stands out in a crowd. Someone mentioned The Addams family -- I think this guy could've applied for the position of Lurch. He doesn't look that imposing or creepy in the smaller photo, though.

Addams Family drug store

Hard to decide whether the "Hypo Cod" that "prevents coughs, colds, and influenza" for $1.20 a bottle, or the Chest protector that "prevents cold and flu" are the bigger scams.

Whichever, this is one creepy photo.

Between that giant kewpie doll, and all that crepe paper hanging from the incandescent lamps next to the celluloid display, you have a horror movie in the making. Pyralin Ivory is basically celluloid, which is flammable as all heck. So, of course, you should make the lamp shades next to it as close to a fire hazard as you can get!

Exposure time

What would be the exposure for a shot like this? Most have excellent detail, which I think the large format camera give, but was curious about the exposure time.

[As we can see from the stock clerk's blurry arm, longer than what a modern flash exposure would use. The flash here is unsynchronized. The photographer opens the shutter just before he or an assistant sets off the charge of magnesium powder. One common artifact of this process is what might be called "zombie eyes," where the exposure catches a person's eyes both open and closed, if he blinks. - Dave]

Rouges gallery

Those are some of the scariest looking people I've ever seen.

Vanpires by night.

This is the strangest looking combined group I've ever seen here so far. They are all creeps, including the woman. If they closed their eyes, I would think them all dead. What's with the ultra creep up in the right hand corner peering from his lofty perch. He's likely the ring leader of this madcap group.

A little too much tasting of the product going on perhaps?

Pyralin Ivory!

Never heard of Pyralin Ivory before, but I'm seeing Google hits galore. It's a kind of celluloid plastic.

As an old school Dungeons and Dragons player, I'm well qualified to identify many of these gentlemen as Half Goblins. Except the fellow on the far right, who is half Hobgoblin.

I like the smile on the guy way up under the pressed tin ceiling. He looks like the happiest one present.

Where shopping is a pleasure

Even for early 1900s group photo standards, this is a strange looking bunch. Is that Armin Shimmerman on the left?

Hair Days of Old

How is it the one woman in the picture is the only one with unkempt hair? Not that greasing your hair down involves a lot of maintenance.

Ears lookin' at you kid

Whew. Some serious ears going on with this group! Also couldn't help noticing that the stock clerk at the ceiling looks like an early relative of Ryan Gosling and Jay Leno!

Young Stockboy Leno

I did not know that Jay Leno was that old.

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