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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Brent’s Drugs

Dr. Alvin Brent opened his pharmacy in 1946 in the Fondren neighborhood, which was at that time just outside the Jackson city limits. Originally, medicinal prescriptions that didn’t taste very good could be compounded with a bit of soda water and simple syrup to be made palatable. Over time, as the nation’s teenage population grew, these compounds evolved into milkshakes. A menu with burgers and other diner fare was added, and the pharmacy became the soda fountain hangout.

Sixty-three years later, with Brent’s Drugs under threat of closing, Fondren resident Brad Reeves stepped in to purchase the neighborhood institution. Brad has updated the menu while keeping the favorites: burgers, shakes, and the egg-and-olive sandwich (a weird and wonderful combination). More recently, Brad and his business partners opened a cocktail speakeasy—The Apothecary—in the old drug storeroom behind the kitchen. With dinner service imminent, Brent’s Drugs continues to evolve throughout its long history.

Date of interview:

Rien Fertel

Rien Fertel

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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