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.
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.
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."
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.
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.