When pharmacists met for fun, no one had to use "networking" as a verb

July 15, 2010

For male pharmacists, anyway, the 1970s were good times, with a sense of fraternity among professionals. What happened to the group spirit?

Win introduced me to the Ashtabula Pharmacists Society. The monthly meetings started late and ended late, so that pharmacists from the southern end of the county could come. I don't remember ever paying for a drink or the steak dinner. The man from McKesson or Lederle or SK&F always had his checkbook ready.

I recall asking T.J., "How can you put up with these guys?"

"Jimmy, these are the men who are going to hire me." She smiled. "I can put up with a lot."

A monthly get-together

Flash-forward to the present day. I was recently granted a membership in the 110-year-old Wedgwood Club, in Baltimore, Md. Pharmacists and detail men meet monthly for dinner, a drink or two, and good fellowship. My kind of group. Alas, T.J. Gill would not be allowed in the room.

I have heard that you don't get a membership in this club unless someone dies. I woke up the other night in a cold sweat, thinking that I should send a card to the widow.

Jay Pee, the newest member of a pharmacists' club founded in 1900. I like it. Wish we had something like it in Galveston. The idea of spending some down time with local pharmacists appeals to me. We have terrific restaurants. Boys and girls together would be good. Most important would be the fellowship.

Maybe we could loosen up the rule about no new members unless somebody dies. That dying thing could be the kiss of death, if you know what I mean. Who would dare join?

Where I live, there isn't much hope of starting such a group. The pharmacists around here seem to have a mean streak, especially when a fellow pharmacist needs some help.

"You want a transfer?"

"Ah ... yes, I do. I've been waiting for 5 min -."

"- Hold on, then." At least CVS plays good music. Last week, I enjoyed Dvorak's New World Symphony. All of it.

"How about dinner, drinks, and some jokes on Thursday night?"

"With you?"

"With a bunch of pharmacists."

"You gotta be nuts." Slam!

Back in the day

Back in another time and place, the Contra Costa County Pharmacists Association was the "hostess with the mostest." There were winter dinner dances at the country club in San Ramon. Dinner jackets and bow ties. A couple hundred guys participated.

This was the early 1970s in San Francisco. I remember the sweet smell of marijuana smoke in the bathroom. We held summer barbecues in a backyard in Lafayette. As I stood under a live oak with a tall tequila drink in my hand, the networking got me my first management job.

Back then, female pharmacists were relegated to the women's auxiliary. Men were pigs in the early 1970s. Maybe they still are. Still, for those of us who were male, those were good times, with a sense of fraternity among professionals.

I miss the group spirit a lot. I've been a member of nothing for almost 40 years. So I asked Wedgwood about my membership, and I found out that nobody has to die.

My membership becomes official the next time I visit Baltimore. Maybe it's time to plan a trip.

To learn more about the Wedgwood Club, go to http://www.wedgwoodclub.org/.

JIM PLAGAKIS is a community pharmacist in Galveston, Texas. You can e-mail him at jpgakis@hotmail.com and cc us at drugtopics@advanstar.com
. You can also check out his Web site at http://jimplagakis.com/.