Meadowmom

Meadowmom

Posted on 07/21/2015


Photo taken on July  2, 2015


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Humboldt County
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Photo replaced on July 21, 2015
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The Patent Medicine Man

The Patent Medicine Man
Here’s something that was common in my childhood but is now quite rare: a Dr. Pierce barn.

Dr. Pierce was a real MD in the Gay Nineties, smart as a whip. Also a charlatan and the richest of all the patent medicine purveyors. He sold millions of bottles of Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription, Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets, and Dr. Pierce’s Smart Weed.

Many, many thousands of people swore by him for almost any complaint. Perhaps because he put opium in all his “cures."

In those days before highway billboards, he was quick to see the possibilities in big blank barn walls. Farmers eagerly contracted with him because he painted their barns and paid them rent besides.
He saw another need and wrote the first non-professional medical handbook, filled with ads for his products: The People’s Common Sense Medical Advisor in Plain English.
And he organized all the patent medicine manufacturers into an association which vehemently attacked any medical professional who criticized them.

All you Americans among my contacts now have one guess as to how he ended his career. He was elected to Congress, of course.

(Old barn east of Arcata, California.)

Lorenzo Kjell Salmonson, RQ 01012015, Peter Van Der Houwen and 2 other people have particularly liked this photo


8 comments - The latest ones
Puchinpappy
Puchinpappy
Interesting story still recorded on vintage buildings
2 years ago.
Pam J
Pam J
Laughed out loud at the punch line. Some things never change !!!!!
2 years ago.
Judith Jannetta
Judith Jannetta
I just love this!....great story, and I've always loved photographing barns too
2 years ago.
HappySnapper
HappySnapper
Interesting documentary, I am trying think of a certain cough mixture from many years ago with a similar background story.
2 years ago.
Clint
Clint
An American tradition!

I, of course, mean electing kooks to Congress, not painting advertisements on barns, though we have plenty of those in the East, too. Perhaps your doctor was a Western inspiration of the See Rock City or Mail Pouch barns in my part of the country.
2 years ago.
Peter Van Der Houwen
Peter Van Der Houwen
Great documentary image!
2 years ago.
Jaap van 't Veen
Jaap van 't Veen
Well seen and taken.
2 years ago.
slgwv
slgwv
It was said that fervent Temperance "soldiers" wouldn't find anything suspicious in that warm glow they got from their favorite patent medicine, taken after a hard day of picketing saloons and busting liquor bottles--
2 years ago.