I am an 81-year-old retired pharmacist. As a pharmacist, I have held many different positions, both within the realm of pharmacy and other fields (e.g., licensed insurance agent, V.P. of pharmacy services for a public company). I helped design the first electronic claims processing system for pharmacy claims and established an electronic network of 54,000 pharmacies nationwide to process those claims. I was the first director of pharmacy for one of the providers for the Arizona AHCCCS system.
I am not relaying this to brag. As I was thinking back about all the interactions I have had through the years, I wondered about all of the people that I have had the pleasure of working for and with, and I realized how little I really knew about each of them AND how little they really knew about me.
How does this happen? Sure, life is busy, with dating, marriage, kids, et al. I think the missing connection was a lack of being curious. Why didn’t I ask questions of the hundreds of people I came in contact with? Certainly, that surely would have led them to ask me questions. That would have sparked a great exchange of ideas and friendly conversation.
So, folks, be curious—ask questions—expand your horizons.
Spending the time to write this led me to remember some people and circumstances I have experienced, which at the time, led to my meeting or working with some very interesting people:
Teddy Hayes. Entrepreneur extraordinaire. Boxer, boxing promoter, Jack Dempsey’s manager, manufactured Tommy Guns for USA in World War ll. He was active in politics, Hollywood, etc.
Ginny (Mrs. Teddy) Hayes: Former Ziegfeld Girl.
Jamie Farr. TV personality, “MASH.”
Mark Letendre. At the time, the youngest ever head trainer in Major League Baseball.
Dr. Jim Ph.D. He was my pharmacy customer, and he used to buy anti-fungal powder that he used on the orchids he raised as a hobby in retirement. I read his obituary, which is when I learned he held 19 patents in electronics. See, you’ll never know if you do not ask.
Some situations I have encountered in the past:
Lunch with Joe DiMaggio (as a Little Leaguer).
My friends David and Eddie Brigati helped start the singing group The Rascals.
The 1989 earthquake in San Francisco: I was in the dugout at 5:05 when it hit. Pictures of me on the field helping bring order to chaos on the Front Page of the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated. Note: I was the team pharmacist for the San Francisco Giants at the time, and also for the Arizona Cardinals football team and the old Phoenix Firebirds Minor League team of the Giants.
Spending a weekend at the Jersey Shore when a major hurricane hit. Moved our beach house back four feet; we survived, but just barely. Frightening time.
I once picked up Buddy Hackett, who was hitchhiking for a ride near Fort Lee, N.J. He really was a funny guy.
Stevie Nicks shopped in Lute’s Pharmacy Scottsdale (mine) as did Maureen O’Sullivan, Laraine Day, Leo Durocher, Art Buchwald, Willie Mays, and Minnesota Fats.
Robert Redford stopped in to buy a Wall Street Journal at Lute’s.
Through serving clients of the world-famous Main Chance Salon (owned by Elizabeth Arden), I served some very prominent women, all of whom registered with aliases for privacy, but I knew their names if they needed prescriptions. Names like Rockefeller, Astor, etc.
It has been a fantastic run, and to think I almost did not go to Rutgers College of Pharmacy ’62. It was a last-minute decision.
Ray Toronto, R.Ph.
What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?
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