Bad tasting medicine but good tasting education

Bad tasting medicine but good tasting education

By: Larry McGehee

Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic destroys Malarial Germs in the Blood and removes the Impurities. It restores Energy and Vitality by creating new, healthy blood…. Pleasant to Take.
This ad from the Paris Medicine Co. of St. Louis (but formerly of Paris, Tennessee) could be hotly disputed by the thousands of us who had Grove’s Chill Tonic spooned down us by strong-armed mothers with loving hearts. I remember Dr. Grove’s Chill Tonic as being gray in color with black particles suspended in it after shaking, and I suppose the awful taste that made the cure almost as bad as the disease was probably quinine.
On the other hand, I don’t recall any of us ever getting malaria.
Dr. Grove’s company, the Paris Medical Co., was founded in 1889. Its line of remedies also included Bromo Quinine, PAZO Ointment, and Dr. Porter’s Antiseptic Healing Oil, and I understand the 4-Way Cold Tablet may also have had its start there.
Every product was “Not Genuine without this signature”, E. W. Grove, written in bold black script that was easily read.
Dr. Grove has an impressive grave in the old city cemetery in Paris, near those of Governor James D. Porter and Congressman John Wesley Crockett (son of Davy Crockett). People there don’t remember much about him, probably because he moved his company to St. Louis (where it is now owned by a big-name pharmaceutical company) and spent most of his time there and in North Carolina.
Our city high school bore the E. W. Grove name. An impressive gray brick building on top of Grove Hill, the school was built in 1906, as a private academy. Dr. Grove set up a trust fund to help operate it. Demand for education was so great, the school quickly merged with the public system, and for years it operated within a Paris Special School District that provided city funds to supple–ment state and county funds. When I was a student there (1950-54), it was one of only four (or maybe six, depending on the source) Tennessee high schools accredited by the Southern Association.
With the exception of some classes in shop, agriculture, home economics, and typing, the curriculum was a classical college-track. We had Latin, four years each of English literature, history, sciences, and mathematics, and for a dollar a lesson, you could take speech and drama lessons during a study hall period.
For no fee at all you could play in the band or on the Blue Devils athletics teams. More conformist teaching styles began to creep in about the time I graduated.
Most of our classmates stayed around after graduation, but a goodly number headed off — all on scholarships, I believe — to colleges. Education was what gave that town its meaning. Somehow, in the midst of about as poor a section as could be found, the town brought its young people up and sent many of us out. We count among our Henry County alumni a president of George Peabody College and of the University of Nashville, a long-term president of Howard University in Washington, a president of Atlanta University, two of Memphis State, one of West Virginia University, one of Austin Peay University, and a chancellor of UT Martin. How much Dr. E. W. Grove and his “tasteless” chill tonic were causes of that phenomenon isn’t clear, but that he was a part of it, there isn’t any doubt.
Larry McGehee, professor-emeritus at Wofford College, may be reached by e-mail at mcgeheelt@wofford.edu
Published in The Messenger 5.19.08

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