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Texas | Columns | "It's All Trew"

Inventions
sprung from filling needs

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

As a child I could always tell when my Grandmother Trew was near as I could smell the odor of Mentholatum. A close friend said his grandmother always smelled like Vicks and his uncle smelled like Bay Rum. Most old families had a relative or two who smelled like vanilla flavoring, especially if you resided in a dry county.

My wife always knows when I have a wood splinter, as I smell like Gray's Ointment, and when I get a skin puncture or skinned knuckle I smell like Campho-Phenique. All these remedies sprang from old home remedies used at one time in the old days.


Vicks VapoRub
Lunsford Richardson, a North Carolina pharmacist, concocted a cold relief medicine in the 1890s using Japanese mint oil (menthol) along with camphor and eucalyptus oil mixed in with an early form of Vasoline or petroleum jelly. Eventually they named it Vicks VapoRub after a brother-in-law who owned the laboratory where it was invented. Of interest, the product has remained virtually unchanged since inception because they evidently got it right the first time.


Spam
Another product that became world-famous was known as Spam, which was introduced in 1937 by Hormel Meat Packing Company when they discovered they had a lot of pork shoulders left over. They produced a cooked pork and ham loaf, inserted it into a can that needed no refrigeration and the rest of the story is history. A contest for a catchy name found Spam, causing many new terms added to our vocabulary like Spamwich and Spam and eggs. An Air Force squadron named its headquarters Spamville because it had to eat so much Spam. Many soldiers in WWII described Spam as "ham that couldn't pass its physical."

One man who left home and his mother's cooking survived bachelorhood by eating Spam three times a day for a long time. He later stated the only reason he got married was, "I got tired of eating Spam."


Bingo
The game of Bingo was discovered, developed and adapted by Edwin Lowe in 1929 when he observed a crude version being played at a carnival. His first effort, named Beano because of the pinto beans used to mark the numbers, had 12 cards and was so captivating to his friends they played it around the clock. When one enthusiast yelled Bingo instead of Beano he changed the name. A priest, trying to assist his bankrupt congregation by sponsoring large groups of players, asked if more cards could be designed. Lowe finally made 6,000 nonduplicate cards, a feat that nearly drove him crazy. Sadly, he could not patent the game as it had passed on into a kind of Americana.


Earmuffs
Because his ears turned blue quickly in the Maine winter weather, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood invented earmuffs out of baling wire and bits of fur. They were so successful he hired his mother and grandmother to manufacture the products trying to keep up with orders. Eventually, Chester was producing 400,000 pairs of earmuffs per year along with many other products he had invented. His favorite saying was, "Chester had colder ears than most of his peers."



Delbert Trew
More "It's All Trew" July 13 , 2010 Column
Delbert Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164, by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at trewblue@centramedia .net. For books see delberttrew .com.



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