My dad owned Galva's most long-lived drug store during my entire childhood and well into my young adult years. During that time, my mother would frequently deposit me at the store in order, Im sure, to briefly escape my whining persona for a little while. Later, it was often my home base after school in order to avoid the dangerous trip across then-busy route 34 in those pre-interstate highway days.
Anyway, here's the thing.
While I had never, ever shown any particular aptitude for anything useful whatsoever, it was discovered at a relatively young age that I was an absolute wunderkind as a pharmacy clerk. I could count change before I could tie my shoes, knew the location of everything from lipstick to lamb nipples, and could often be found alertly perched on a little stool behind the cash register near the candy counter.
"May I help you?" I would chirp brightly at the unsuspecting customers who wandered into my domain.
I still remember the surprised reaction by one browsing dowager who laughingly replied to my helpful offer.
"Oh," she said. "Are YOU going to wait on ME?"
"No, lady," I muttered, mostly to myself. "I'm just waiting for the school bus."
Along with the aforementioned lipstick and the nipples used to nurse baby lambs was one product I always hoped someone would buy.
It started out as a popular brand of horse liniment, invented by a self-taught veterinarian named Dr. Andrew Sloan. His son, Earl, later re-styled the product as a human medication in the 1870s, stating that it was "good for man and beast."
I don't know if we're related, but I always wished we were, just as I always hoped someone would buy a bottle of the darn stuff. Fact is, our only regular customer was an elderly farmer who, when questioned by my dad, noted that it was great for loosening stubborn nuts and bolts.
The Sloan medication wasn't the only balm with alternate uses. Absorbine Jr. also started out as a horse product called simply "Absorbine " until the "Jr." monicker was added when it was also recommended for human benefit. Absorbine was created in 1892 by Wilbur F. Young and his wife, Mary Ida to relieve the muscle pain of their hardworking horses. Their son, Junior, created the brand for hard-working people and called it Absorbine Jr.
Wait. It gets better.
If you've ventured out-of-doors recently, you've probably noticed that we've been beset by a plague of near-Biblical proportions.
I personally can't remember a year when they've been worse, dive-bombing ears, faces, eyes and noses. I think my near-bare head is especially tempting, particularly after sunset, when the pesky little critters begin maneuvers akin to night landings on the USS Forrestal.
I tried just about everything, including the various and sundry powerful bug chasers I take along when camping in the deep woods.
Finally, I checked the internet, thinking that surely I wasn't the only poor schmo desperately seeking something that would let me relax on my deck, mow the lawn and sit in relative peace at little league baseball games. One of the recommendations was vanilla, which smells good, but is pretty pricy to be liberally slathered on as an insect repellant.
The other was--you guessed it--Absorbine Jr.
I toddled on down to my local Galva pharmacy where I received the bad news.
"Don't know when we'll get any more."
I ventured into a big box store, then another, only to be greeted with the same sad news.
Absorbine Jr. is just about impossible to find. Anywhere.
Meanwhile, gnats around the world rejoice.
The good news is that folks who seem to know about such things say the plague will disappear on its own pretty soon. I'm glad, as I'm pretty sure that if I smack myself on the head anymore, I'm apt to do some permanent damage. But before they vanish altogether, I'm tempted to give one more thing a try.
Maybe you've heard of it.
It's called Sloan's Liniment, and they say it's good for man and beast.
Maybe it"s good for gnats, too.