Ask Dr. Salvo
December 12, 1995
Dear Doctor Salvo,
Today as I enjoyed my evening walk up and down the streets of Mobile, dodging dogs and out of control utility trucks I met a jogger who chanced to know you. He sent his greetings as "a member of the Fired By Moon Club" and said that you'd understand what he was talking about.
But I profess to be both puzzled and intrigued by the notion. Does this mean that you, sir, are a backslid member of the Unification Church, or perhaps a former astronaut. Maybe you keep the company of lunatics (mostly likely), or there is some other hidden meaning. Could this be a cryptic reference to your former incarnation as a scholar and a gentleman at the famed University of Lower Alabama, the most lucrative Medical Correspondence School in the state?
You have heard the canard, "With such friends who needs enemies?," and "a man is best judged by his enemies"? No doubt, long ago, across the Bay a Junior Camelot in medical education was developing nicely. It was attracting a few outstanding teachers, scholars, residents, and a little grant money. I seem to recall it lasted for 3 years or more, when a series of us quit -- although we preferred to say were fired by "Moon" an outstanding and highly political medical chairman of the day. Later I learned that a couple of doctors in Fairhope had invented the term long before the little tempest in our teapot. I'm trying to think of a F.B.M. member who would jog, but can only think of a tennis player or two, one master red fisherman, and a polo watcher. F.B.M., you will have gathered has not quite the eclat of FBK (Phi Beta Kappa), but is far from being derisory. It invites the listener to regard what a superb man of science might have continued to flourish in that Camelot had our leader been properly worshipful.
So the answer to your clever last question is yes! Recently I saw that Moon rising over the hallowed halls of Smith's Bakery -- and found we both had only the friendliest feelings. So time does heal.
Cheers & best wishes for a continuing recovery.
While indulging a passion for neatness recently, I neatened out an old chifforobe and found a yellow, crumbly manuscript.
Here is all it said: "It seems St. Peter was tending the gate when Boyh R. Browning and Ogden Nash arrived from Purgatory -- He decided to hold a competition -- winner to enter first -- Rules -- each had 3 minutes to compose a quatrain using the word, "Timbuktu" --
Browning submitted his --
"As I was walking by the shore
Listening to the ocean roar
A sailing ship come passing thru
Her destination -- Timbuktu"
"Not much" said Peter -- "let's see yours" Nash wrote
"As Tim and I awalking went
We saw three women in a tent
As they were three and we but two
I bucked one and
TIM BUCKED TWO."
Dear Dr. Salvo,
I have looked forward to receiving the Harbinger for the past few years just so that I may read your interesting page on the sundry subjects that you have discussed, with and without authority. Your subject on the armadillo in the 10/10/95 issue behooves me to write to you.
It seems to me that you residents of the lower South have not yet learned to utilized the armadillo for sustenance. Were this animal a resident of China or Japan it would no doubt be served as ingredients of chow mein or teriyaki, and who knows what. If the armadillo resembles pork, as you have indicated, I see limitless ways in which to consume this beast. As you recall, even a fat raccoon can be a gourmet's delight when cooked in the ground, a la Hawaiian luau. I would imagine that even a possum would taste like luau pork when roasted in the ground the way it is done here in Hawaii.
As for painful fire ant bites, every resident in the lower South should grow at least a couple of papaya plants in the back yard. The milky sap from the plant and green fruit is clearly the best first aid for fire ant and centipede bites, bee and scorpion stings, and all other painful insect bites and stings. The papaya is a tropical plant, but it should grow outdoors for at least nine months of the year in lower Alabama, similar to the banana. Start the plant indoors in November or December, and plant it outdoors when it warms up in February or March, and you might enjoy the most delectable fruits in September. In the meantime, the plant is there for you to utilize in sundry ways as a fir
st aid for the above ailments, or as the most effective meat tenderizer. The high concentration of papain, in the sap is the enzyme that tenderizes all meats, including the armadillo, and the papain is probably the ingredient that serves as the medicine that neutralizes the formic acid and toxic protein substances. And perhaps a first aid for snake bites?
From Molokai, Hawaii,
First of all, thanks for the guava part -- rarely found in stores -- and the hardwood vase. What you say about our culinary neglect of the armadillo is quite persuasive. Between you and Roadkill Bill of Nashville a formidable committee should form to solve the armadillo problem. (By the way the word problem will no longer be used in public after the next presidential election.) We have exterminated most of his natural enemies, so we are morally bound to take on that job -- or be ridiculed by the Republicans for offering free armadillo condoms at roadside stands. Some of us suspect that the prevalence of little 'dillo corpses on our highways could be much alleviated if we would offer him an alternative to jumping up in the glare of the headlights. The common people of Thailand, I learned yesterday, approach over population poetically by offering their king 150,000 (or 250,000?) vasectomies on his birthday. Their birth rate is slowly diminishing.
Although I never could persuade my wife to agree, the papaya is tops in my book for a breakfast right off the tree in your back yard at Molokai. Not only a fine mango-like aroma, but distinct anti-costive properties for travellers who are "journey proud."
To hear that the papaya is also an alloy against the fire-ant is almost overwhelming. About 10 years ago rumors circulated in L.A. (Lower Alabama) that the best quick cure for beestings was meat tenderizer. This was shelved by many of us as folklore. However if you say so, the Brittanica agrees with you, and you have tried the stuff on millipedes, centipedes, and the giant night wasp of Sumatra (an insect the U.S. is not ready for!) then I believe it. I have tried it on ant stings to good effect -- one simply forgets the sting shortly, and this makes me wonder if a nepenthe pill could be made up for the purpose of forgetting painful memories, such as three decades of Republican misrule. You are a chemist: Think about it.
To my regret, the Brittenica claims the pau-pau, a favorite wild fruit down here is not a mispronounced papaya. Nor does it have the following or medical properties enjoyed by the noble papaya.
If you will send me some notes on your experiences with Aloes, I will pass over your initial remarks about my exploring some subjects without authority. Who needs it?
-- December 12, 1995