Saturday, September 15, 2012

Overheard, Over Water

Tam and I were in the office; I had just located a photo of the Wizard Oil Bridge and was telling her that, despite the web-page report that " one has ever been able to tell me it's name origin," artist/historian Eric Sloane* wrote that the current bridge is named after a patent medicine advertisement painted all across the outside of the covered bridge it replaced: WIZARD OIL.

Tam, faux-impressed: "Do you know how many wizards you'd have to press...?"

She should know. Oh, my. --Back on this earth, Hamlin's Wizard Oil didn't just paint signs on bridges, they promoted their nostrum with medicine shows and printed songbooks.
* Eric Sloane's America, pp. 87-88. (Promotory Press, 1994, reprinting Barns and Covered Bridges [1954], Our Vanishing Landscape [1955] and American Yesterday [1956]). --If you see a book with his name on the cover, buy it if you're at all interested in hands-on history.


Bruce said...

Which brings up my favorite old question, "If you make peanut oil by crushing peanuts, How do you make Baby Oil?"

Stranger said...

"Hamlin's Wizard Oil" to be exact. Early "Oil" was 140 proof but the post Prohibiton product was 40% McKesson's finest CP grain alcohol, and a secret mix of herbs and spices. Mostly anise and caramel with a bit of sulfuric acid and camphor.

They Hamlin brothers sponsored Carson Robison on the AM radio, circa 1938. Try youtube for Carson's "Life Gets Tee-Jus, Don't It."