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December 9, 2013

Tom Bishop shares his experiences as Norman’s pharmacist

NORMAN — Come February, Tom Bishop will begin his 41st year as a Norman pharmacist, proprietor of Central Pharmacy at 222 Alameda St.

Bishop can look back to the days when the pharmacy was connected by intercom with doctor’s offices and the doctors called in the prescriptions themselves. Each prescription label was typewritten, and the information entered on the individual’s prescription record by hand.

“We were the first pharmacy in town to keep the patient profiles,” he said, a practice which continues although now the computer software automatically updates records.

Along the way there have been changes. Central Pharmacy was the first in town to install a drive-through window.

“And it is the same window today. I can open it up and talk directly with the customer.”

Despite updates, some things remain the same.

“We are modern in technology, but have the small town service mentality,” he said.

He is proud of maintaining an active pharmacy alongside the big chains which have made headway into Norman.

Bishop, a Wewoka native, found his OU studies interrupted when he was drafted. After serving as a combat medic in Vietnam, he returned to get a pharmacy degree. While a student, he worked part-time at Central Pharmacy and after graduating was hired at Hyde Drug on Main Street. He cites working there with pharmacist Miller Maddox schooling him in customer service.

He took pharmacist Ralph Reed’s offer to return to

Central Pharmacy, first as a part-owner. Reed, son of one of Norman’s earliest settlers and the first pharmacist, had established the pharmacy in a building adjacent to one housing three doctors and two dentists. It was Norman’s first modern medical clinic.

While patients of the doctors had their choice of pharmacies, most chose Central Pharmacy, and many of those relationships continue today, “even to second and third generations of families.” There are no longer doctors next door, and the pharmacy is a mile away from any other doctor’s office, but the business continues to thrive.

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