By Russ Stewart – Victoria, B.C.
In 1946, I was the boy of all work in a pharmacy in my hometown. I had many an adventure and many a learning experience there. One anecdote in particular sticks in my mind.
One of the local men had brought home an English war bride, complete with baby boy. One winter day she came into the pharmacy and asked me if we had any ear caps. I knew she didn’t want earmuffs, and I admitted that I didn’t know what ear caps were. She explained that they were designed to fit over the baby’s ears and hold them flat so he didn’t lie with the cartilage doubled over and become cabbage-eared.
I knew all the stock in the store and most things that were available from our suppliers, and also I had never heard my mother or my grandmother mention ear caps, so I told her that I doubted that ear caps were available in Canada. She looked at me trustingly and asked me what I suggested.
Being a reasonably bright young fellow and a keen salesman, I was well informed on everything that came into the store, and just that morning we’d received an initial shipment of a brand new product – Scotch Tape.
I’d read the material that came with it, explaining that it had been developed for masking cars for painting, and had been reformulated to be useful in a wide variety of applications. As I recall, each little roll sold for 15¢ and came in a metal dispenser decorated in a tartan pattern.
I explained to the young mother that if she cut off a strip of Scotch Tape about 9-inches long and stuck it over one ear, then around the back of the child’s head and over the other ear, it would keep his ears nice and flat. Even I was a little surprised when she agreed with me and bought a roll.
Later on, it occurred to me to wonder what happened when she tried to remove the tape with the child’s hair sticking to it. I wondered if the poor little fellow grew up with a warped psyche as a result. If he became an axe murderer it would be my fault!
It was many years afterward that my mind was set at ease on this point. I chanced to meet a woman who was the child’s father’s sister. She laughed when I told her the story and said I needn’t worry, the baby was now 50 years old and both he and his mother had survived just fine!