Corinthian Clippings from Feb. 24, 1984 (written by George Poague)



RIENZI-Here in the tiny town of Rienzi, where the old buildings on Main Street are so unchanged a first time visitor might conclude he has stumbled into a time warp and been hurled into the past, Noble Williams is continuing a family tradition.

Williams is owner of Smith Drugs, the only drug store in Rienzi. The store was run for 50 years by his uncle, the late Truman Smith, who became something of a local legend.

If the outside of the drugstore is 1914, the inside is definitely 1984. The visitor who expects the dark, musty interior of an old building is in for a surprise. The inside of Smith Drugs is completely modern-as modern as any drug store in Corinth (or Tupelo or Memphis for that matter).

“We’ve done some remodeling, but we’ve tried to leave some of it like it was,” said Williams. “We’ve kept the ceiling fans, for instance.”

Williams is not sure how long the drug store has stood. He only knows it has been there since the early 1900s and has served Rienzi for almost a century.

“My desire is to carry on what Truman Smith started,” said Williams. “I have no intention of changing the store’s name. Smith Drugs is a part of life here, even with the young people.

“I was raised here and grew up in the drugstore. My uncle was very instrumental in my life. His love for people and concern for the sick had a great deal of influence on me.”

However, Williams admitted he did not like the drugstore business as a teenager or as a young adult. He worked several years for the Postal Service after graduation from high school.

“I came to like the business later,” he said, “and I always leaned into going into business for myself.”

When Truman Smith retired several years ago the store was bought by Don Kitchens. Kitchens later bought Wilson’s Drugs in Corinth and sold the store to Williams.

“We have had a successful five years, even during the Recession,” he said. “I attribute it to good luck, hard work and good employees---I probably picked some things up from my uncle when I was younger.”

Smith Drugs has five employees including two licensed pharmacists.

Williams said his work at the drug store leaves him little time for hobbies or outside interests. “My nose stays to the grindstone.”

“We have had to modernize some to keep pace with the times, but we’re trying to continue the old tradition of caring for our customers,” said Williams.

At least one old tradition has certainly been retained: how many drug stores have you been in lately that served hand-dipped ice cream?

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