My name is Esther Harris, but some of you old-timers would maybe know me as Esther Davis.
I started work at the Netley complex in 1976.
I used to catch the tram and then walk 500 miles to work, hoping to get picked up by a lucky person with a car.
I started work in the Binding Room where I quickly gained a name for myself as a workplace hazard, so was moved to the reading room.
I was there for about 4 years, along with David Clarke, Nick Penn, Bruce Gow Ian Ingham, Jack Flack and Colin Thomas reading epic titles such as Butterflies of South Australia and the Tasmanian Yearbook, and who could forget the Government Gazette?
I’m still waiting for the musical starring Ivan Merritt.
I was a casualty of new technology and made redundant by the Dictaphone.
I then spent a happy 12 months making tealess urns as a Tea Girl and sweeping up crap until it was decided to offload me to The State Information Centre at the Black Stump in town, where all the nutters and toilet stalkers ended up.
All day I gave out completely uneducated opinions on matters of State and Commonwealth legislation until I was expecting my first child Danny, also the offspring of Rodney Parham, our Head Cheese.
Whilst there I met Don Bradman (when he was alive), Big Bird Joel Garner (who I thought was a basketballer) and the strange Mr. Gordon Howie (Government Gazette Crazy and the scourge of the Adelaide City Council).
Since the subsequent birth of my daughter Candace, I have worked in the areas of mental health (result of former occupation most likely) drug and alcohol, homelessness, HIV/AIDS and alcohol brain injury. Currently I’m with Anglicare.
I look forward to seeing you all on 24 February – and by the way age has wearied me and time has definitely condemned…
Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was marketed as nothing short of a miracle syrup for mothers, struggling to get their children and infants into a pain-free sleep.
Image: US National Library of Medicine via The Quack Doctor.
First hitting the market in 1845, the story goes that it was a pair of chemists that first marketed the medicine in quantity.
It was based on an old home remedy from the real Mrs. Winslow, the mother-in-law of one of the chemists. A nurse who often cared for young children, she had concocted the “soothing syrup” and, in all fairness, it did exactly what it claimed to do.
It also contained 1 grain of morphine per fluid ounce, along with some alcohol for good measure.
In addition to relieving teething pain and helping children get to sleep, it was also said to be one of the best remedies on the market for diarrhea and other stomach issues – a now-known side effect of the morphine.
The New York Times even published a series of letters in December of 1860, written by parents who were grateful for the fast-acting syrup that allowed not only their child to sleep, but the whole family.
There were no more endless nights, no more crying, no more hours upon hours of pain, all thanks to a remedy that cost a mere 25 cents per bottle.
It’s not known how many children and infants died from the syrup, but in 1868, one of the developers and manufacturers of the formula – the son-in-law of Mrs. Winslow – was testifying in court.
At the time, he went on record as stating their annual sale was more than 1.5 million bottles, but it was decades later in – 1911 – before the American Medical Association spoke out against the dangers of the syrup.
And it was almost another two decades before it was finally off the market.
Marshal Georgy Zhukov (shown here with a General’s insignia) reportedly requested the manufacture of a colorless, unlabeled variant of Coca-Cola, known later as “White Coke”.
Georgy Zhukov was a Soviet war hero with a serious drinking habit. The man loved Coca-Cola.
However, the Soviet government considered Coke a sign of American imperialism and forbade its citizens from enjoying the soda. Unwilling to give up his favorite beverage, Zhukov asked America for help, and the Coca-Cola Company rose to the occasion.
What’s red, white, and enjoyed across the planet? Coca-Cola! The sugary soft drink is the world’s bestselling soda, but despite its international appeal, Coke is usually associated with America.
And that posed a pretty big problem for Georgy Zhukov.
Zhukov was a Soviet general and successfully defended Leningrad from the Nazis, was appointed Commander in Chief of the USSR’s western front, and fought the Germans at Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk, and Berlin.
However, when the Russian officer wasn’t crushing enemy troops, he was refreshing himself with the cold, crisp taste of Coca-Cola.
It was pretty easy to find a bottle of Coke during World War II, even if you were a soldier in the middle of a combat zone.
On top of that, the US government considered Coke crucial to defeating the Axis powers, going so far as to exempt the Atlanta-based corporation from sugar rationing.
With Zhukov pursuing the Germans across Europe, it was only a matter of time before he discovered America’s ice cold sunshine. In fact, Eisenhower himself gave Zhukov his first bottle, and soon, the Soviet general was a Coke addict.
But when the war ended, Zhukov realized his drinking habit was in danger. Only this Soviet officer wasn’t going to give up so easily. Desperate for his soda pop, Zhukov went to the highest authority outside Russia: Harry Truman.
He asked the President if America could secretly send him a stash of Coke . . . but not just any Coke. These drinks had to be special. If someone saw him chugging a dark brown American soft drink, he’d probably end up in a Siberian gulag.
The first problem was the drink’s instantly recognizable brown color. However, a Coca-Cola chemist experimented with the recipe and found a way to create a clear soda. Secondly, the curvy bottle had to be redesigned as it was a dead giveaway.
The final product was White Coke, a clear liquid in a straight bottle, complete with a red Soviet star on a white cap. Now Zhukov could safely sip his soda in public.
Best known for his short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” the journalist and author earned the nickname “Bitter Bierce” for his sarcastic, biting wit. (“Brain: an apparatus with which we think that we think.”).
The Civil War veteran also had a morbid fascination with horror and death, both of which became recurring themes in his writing.
Bored with life in the United States, he moved to Mexico in 1913 to witness Pancho Villa’s revolution.
He was 71. In a letter to his cousin Lora, Bierce didn’t attempt to assuage his family’s fear about such a trek, writing:
“Good-bye — if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stars. To be a Gringo in Mexico — ah, that is euthanasia!”
Some scholars believe he was killed in the siege of Ojinaga in January 1914.
Others speculate that Bierce’s final letters were a ruse and that he never actually went to Mexico but instead committed suicide.