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Across The Lake

In October 1918, Vick's was 18,000 gross behind in production of VapoRub, even though they shipped 3 million jars of it that month. It was a favorite treatment for Spanish flu -- the epidemic that killed so many millions worldwide that year. Newspapers of the period were filled with advertisements for products promising help, even as the influenza epidemic itself was beginning to lessen.

Army training camps were hard hit and probably it's recognition of that bit of history that prompts today's concern. Personnel on military installations will be among the first to be offered shots to ward off the H1N1 swine flu. In 1918, quinine was offered as a remedy and also as a way to avoid getting the flu. Hill's Cascara Quinine used bold type in its ads to let readers know "Spanish Influenza can be prevented easier than it can be cured" or a double dose of Bromo Quinine Tablets was also recommended by that drug manufacturer.

Dependable St. Jacob's Liniment -- the same one included in the old song about "the man who had plenty of good peanuts" -- was heavily advertised to relieve the muscular pains that went along with the flu, and Carter's Little Liver Pills (small pill -- small dose -- small price) were promoted alongside Krengel's Treatment -- no opiates.

There were intriguing advertisements for specific parts of the body: "If you get headaches, it's your liver. If you catch cold easily, it's your liver. If you wake with a bad taste, furred tongue, nasty breath or rancid stomach, it's your liver." The remedy was to go to your druggist and get a quarter-pound of limestone phosphate. If that didn't do it, the next ad virtually commanded a visit to that same person for a package of Jad's Salts. They'd keep your kidney's clean.

Women were targeted in one ad, aimed particularly at those engaged in wartime production jobs. "Some of the American women are borne down physically and mentally by the weakness of their sex." Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription was the sure-cure for the "backache, dragging sensations and nervous pain in the top of the head" said to be their problem. You see the stuff on TV these days and it's hard to think advertising has really improved over the years.

An old copy of the St. Paul Daily News proudly announced a "scoop" on news of the end of the war in 1918. With "a direct telegraph wire from Washington, D. C. to this newspaper's office" they received a flash at 1:46 in the morning and quickly had 15,000 copies of a pink sheet on the streets, "11 minutes ahead of any other St. Paul paper." That "pink sheet" was just that; since newspapers often used a pink or green colored paper for special editions, and getting on the street ahead of other papers was impressive.

How's this for an 11 year old's day? In the morning, taking advantage of Iowa's deer season laws, he goes out with his father and in an hour or so is back home to get the tractor to haul home the doe he got with one shot. It was his first deer, and pretty exciting. That afternoon, playing with a middle school team that had lost its first two games, he intercepted a pass, ran it back to put their team in scoring position, and they won the game six to nothing. My Favorite Reader says I should probably mention he's our grandson.

State Rep. Brita Sailer is enthusiastic about the promise of clean energy jobs -- green jobs -- coming to Minnesota. And they are coming. In the decade ending 18 months ago, Minnesota added just under twenty-thousand, a growth rate of almost 12 percent. It involved $49.9 million in incentives to create those jobs. Wisconsin saw capitol investment of $3 million less but it resulted in only 15,089 jobs there. With far smaller populations, neither of the Dakotas saw any capitol invested but both had green job percentage increases far exceeding Minnesota's. Creating a job here, for the record, cost taxpayers on average $2,495.75 according to those figures.

The federal stimulus package includes $100 billion in grants, loans and incentives for new clean energy positions. It put all of the states in competition to get those jobs and states are working to get their share. However, as one observer quoted in USA Today noted, It makes you wonder about tax incentives for some businesses versus lower taxes for all.

Nice note from Steve Hoffmann about those confusing relationships mentioned recently. (Hoffman lives in California but visited a sister in Minneapolis and read her copy of The American there.) He simplifies one point: Your cousin's grandchildren are your kids' second cousins once removed. Your cousin's children are your kids' second cousins, so moving down to your cousin's grandchildren introduces that once-removed generation gap. Appreciate knowing that, Steve, but to be honest, I think I'll still just refer to them as relatives -- OK?

Bill Dreher from Medford, OR also writes a follow-up to the recent threshing machine paragraphs. In 1942, Bill says he was a city kid who joined the war effort by helping out on a farm, earning $90 for the three months work. He used the money to buy a suit ($18.75) and the next spring got part of his money back when he sold the suit and went into the Navy program at the University of Minnesota. There, he says, he met Jim Sullivan from Blackduck. Bill's letter doesn't explain how that or something else led to Jim's sister Jean become Mrs. Dreher. Jim and Jean were both high school graduates here.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... A week after that cougar was killed near Bemidji, the DNR provided a long and detailed report on cougars. What we didn't get were any details on the rumor heard a week before the car hit the cat. Way we heard it, admittedly second hand, was that a Bemidji man stopped for gas at a station in Jamestown, N.D. He wound up parked next to an eastbound Minnesota DNR vehicle. The DNR vehicle was pulling a trailer. The trailer held four cages. The four cages held cougars. Like we said, just a rumor-- but it was reported before the car hit and killed the one near Bemidji.