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Time Stands Still On Water Valley's Main Street As Americana Thrives


Once a staple across America, local pharmacies have largely been pushed off the town square and even put out of business in many communities.
But a stopover at Turnage Drugstore in Water Valley is a pleasant reminder of the days when customers stopped at the local drugstore for a fountain soda drink or ice cream, or to pick up a prescription and visit with everyone in sight on a first name basis.

Located on Main Street in Water Valley,  the 106-year-old Turnage Drugstore is owned by fourth generation pharmacist Robert W. Turnage. He bought the store from his father, Binford (Binnie) Turnage, who purchased the story from his father, W.W. Turnage, who bought the store from his father, Wade S. Turnage, who first opened its doors in 1905.
The soda fountain at the entrance looks like a page out of drugstore history. While it no longer works, it is a clear reminder that time has stood still to some extent at Turnage. The personal customer service that has characterized small town merchants is alive and well.  Robert and his dad work behind the prescription counter as customers browse the gifts and other items around the store.

“My grandfather was one of 11 children with four boys: two physicians and two pharmacists,” Binnie said. “I was an engineering major at Ole Miss but switched to pharmacy. When I met with Dr. Hume to transfer to pharmacy, he asked if I was going to make all A’s like my dad did.”
Wade S. Turnage founded Turnage Drug Store after graduating from Atlanta College. His son, grandson, and great-grandson all graduated from the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy.
“It’s interesting that Wade S. graduated in 1904 with a 2-year PhG (Pharmacy Graduate) degree. In 1932, my dad Watkins graduated with a 3-year PhC (Pharmaceutical Chemist) degree, I graduated in 1962 with a 4-year BSPh degree, and in 1999 Robert graduated with a PharmD (Dr of Pharmacy) degree,” Bennie added.  
Turnage Drug Store is truly a family business. Family members working in the store include Binnie and Jo, Robert and Monica, son Erick and daughter Karen.  

Robert & Binnie Behind The Pharmacy Counter

All of us have worked here over the years. I learned early how to make milkshakes, and I still love them,” Binnie said.
Turnage Drugstore maintains a modern practice but holds on to a historic look, part of the revival of Water Valley that has attracted the attention of a number of national media. The city is also attracting young families seeking a slower pace – and less expensive lifestyle – than in Oxford and Ole Miss about 15 miles to the North.
Next to Turnage Drugstore is a working barber poll that adorns the Clip, Snip & Curl beauty shop owned by Kathy Dunn.
Down the street, is Bozart’s Art Gallery and B.T.C. – The Old-Fashion Country Store.
American flags flys on Main Street in front of Turnage Drugstore, a reminder that a sense of place and patriotism is alive in this small town that still enjoys the service of an old-fashioned drug store.


By Jim Roberts, a HottyToddy.com contributor
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