Wonder what it would do for gnats

Published 4:13 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Maybe the preacher is not supposed to hear everything that is said as he or she is leaving the church after the service. Usually just an “enjoyed the sermon” or “you really stepped on my toes this morning, preacher” is all to be heard.

This past Sunday, though, as I was leaving my Mitchell County church, I overheard a member advising another member, “Get you some Vicks Salve.”

The woman to whom to the advice was given replied, “I don’t have any Vicks Salve at home.”

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I could have continued to get in my car and leave, but not having any Vicks Salve at home almost borders on irresponsibility and I felt like I had to say something. That’s what “busy-bodies” do, isn’t it?

“You don’t have any Vicks Salve at your house?” I asked. I was thinking that was as bad as not having any mayonnaise.

“No,” she answered. “I don’t have any children at home.” As if you have to have little ones with stuffy noses and sore chests from coughing too much to have Vicks Salve?

Vicks Salve. The reason I turned around was that I had not heard that product mentioned in forever. I had not thought of that iconic blue jar of mentholated goo in years.

As soon as I got home, I searched our medicine cabinet for a comforting jar that I could open and take a big whiff, but I didn’t find one either.

I looked it up online and, of course, they couldn’t bring themselves to call it “Vicks Salve,” but rather the high-falutin name Vicks VapoRub. I wonder if other parts of this land call it VapoRub or salve. To me, it will always be Vicks Salve.

At its beginning, way back in 1905, it was known as Vicks Magic Croup Salve. Anyone remember when a chronic cough accompanied by hoarseness was called the croup? Mothers would say, “So-and-so has the croup; get the Vicks Salve.”

I appreciated the mentholated smell of the ointment, but not having it rubbed all over me. Who likes to have grease all over them? Of course having it rubbed into the soles of my feet and then covered by a pair of warm socks; that didn’t feel so bad. How that helped a cold in the nose. I’ll never understand, but it did.

The most pronounced characteristic of the ointment has to be its smell. Sometimes when I open the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, I can almost smell the Vicks even though it’s not there.

The smell also seems to be an attribute that leads to a couple of other uses of the ointment that might surprise. For instance, for male racehorses, they put a little Vicks Salve underneath the nostrils of the horse to keep the horse from being distracted by the scent of a female horse.

And, a little dab of the salve behind the ear or on the clothing of a person will prevent mosquitoes from being so bothersome. Plus, if a mosquito does happen to bite, a little dab’ll do ya to overcome the bite.

In all there are dozens of uses for Vicks besides the medicinal purposes for which it is most famous. When I read that it might help with mosquitoes, I got to thinking about our other most worrisome summertime varmint. Gnats!

We southerners have, forever, been looking for a solution for our gnat problem. I think I’ll try a little Vicks Salve around a few strategic bodily parts. If it works to keep the gnats away, I’m ready to get a case of the salve!