Darting Around: Powell Drug Store in Mount Olive

MOUNT OLIVE, MS (WDAM) - Powell Drug Store has been the only family pharmacy serving Mount Olive for over one century.

"We've been here since 1904, and this makes about 110 years now," said pharmacist and owner Bill Powell.

The Main Street store still resembles its original structure when it was known as Calhoun Drug Store.

"Graham Calhoun, he was a pharmacist here, and his brother, Archie Calhoun, opened up a physician's office upstairs," said Powell.

The pharmacy now also serves as a gift store, but the marble floor, ceilings, walls and beloved soda fountain are original to the building. There are even prescriptions and orders from patients long ago lining the walls of the pharmacy.

The pharmacy was a "focal point" of the community, according to Powell, and just one hour inside the store today proves that is still the case.

"We're the pharmacists," said Powell. "The only one in town."

While Main Street itself is fairly quiet today, the history of the drug store has made national headlines.

In 1937, Dr. Calhoun was one of many  to give patients a liquid form of a pill to treat strep throat. It was called elixir sulfanilamide. The pill was safe, but when it was dissolved in diethylene glycol, it became fatal. The liquid killed more than 100 people across 15 states and it is what led to the passage of the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Calhoun continued to practice until his death in 1970, although his Powell cousin cousins had already bought the pharmacy in 1959. The mission of being a true family pharmacy, however, remained the same.

"That's one thing we're going to pride ourselves on anyway," said Powell of the hospitable atmosphere. "We're going to know you on a first name basis, and we're pretty much going to know everybody in your family, or at least we're going to attempt to. If we don't know it this time, we'll know it next time."

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