Al Batt: The pioneering of Rexall Drug

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I could recite the Gettysburg Address when I was only 13 years old. 

I’ll bet your parents were proud.

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They had reason. Why not even Lincoln could have done that when he was 13.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Deep thoughts occur as I drive past his drive. It’s nice when the ice leaves the lakes, but it’s magical when the ice leaves my driveway. Back when my Beaver Cleaver world leisure travel was taken in the backseat of a Pontiac Canardly that “can hardly” start. My mother used to make chicken noodle soup with homemade egg noodles and chicken from chickens we knew by their first names. Before supper one day, I told a younger member of our family that the chicken noodle soup was made from hen heads. Her eyebrows leaped upwards and she refused to eat the soup. 

The medicine cabinet of my formative years housed first aid products and a lot of cure-alls — pioneer health insurance purchased at Rexall Drug. I needed healthcare as I did my own stunts, mostly unintentionally. Horehound candies were hard and had a unique taste, like licorice and mint floating in root beer. The distinctive flavor came from their namesake herb, a bitter flowering plant in the mint family. Horehounds were supposed to soothe sore throats, curtail coughs and ward off witch’s spells. Mercurochrome and Merthiolate, both containing mercury, and iodine came in little bottles with glass daubers used on cuts and scrapes. Mercury was used in making felt hats, which resulted in mad hatters. They were all capable of stinging me far more than I wanted. I was advised to blow on a treated wound to lessen the sting and was reminded that if it didn’t sting, it wasn’t effective. Mercurochrome and Merthiolate left an orange or red color on the skin, commonly called “monkey blood.” Vicks VapoRub was a topical cough medicine that was used for breathing congestion, as a chest rub and was occasionally consumed. A sock slathered in Vicks VapoRub was pinned around my neck by a safety pin when I had a cold. I heard from Grandma’s generation of Dr. Tichenor’s antiseptic mouthwash credited with many other uses, Fletcher’s Castoria children’s laxative and the cure-all Hadacol, whose primary ingredient was alcohol. I took castor oil and cod liver oil, but never while operating heavy equipment. Castor oil was suitable for treating constipation and curing a cough. One swallow (often referred to as a slug) and I was afraid to cough. I wasn’t a willing patient and less than thrilled to drink something meant for a John Deere. Egyptians used castor oil as fuel for lamps. There is a fine line between safe and effective, and murderous.

I posted a public notice. I used three tacks because I couldn’t find four tacks. When I was in grade school, tacks taught me to always look before I sat. 

I don’t complain about the price of gas. I try not to complain about much, but some things deserve it more than gas. I tried riding an ostrich once and saved a lot of money on gas, but I fell off the enormous bird.

Nature notes

“I saw a quail in Le Sueur. Is that part of its natural range? “No, that northern bobwhite would have been a pen-raised bird that was released or escaped. Various surveys have found no wild populations, only introduced birds in Minnesota. The organization, Quail Forever, said there are less than 1,000-1,500 birds found primarily in Houston County. The official records in Minnesota kept by the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union (MOU) list the wild bobwhite as extirpated.

“What are my chances of hitting a deer?” State Farm estimates there were over 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims in the U.S. between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. A South Dakota driver has a 1 in 51 likelihood of animal (not just deer) involved collision. Wisconsin has a 1 in 54 chance, Iowa 1 in 57 and Minnesota 1 in 70. The highest risk is in West Virginia 1 in 35. Nevada has the lowest risk at 1 in 698 unless the District of Columbia is included, which is 1 in 907. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are around 1.5 million car accidents with deer each year, which kill 200 Americans, cause over 10,000 personal injuries and result in over $1 billion in vehicle damage. The number of collisions is much higher than that because of all the unreported accidents.

Meeting adjourned

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”—Ronald Reagan.