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Old fashioned craziness

In 1877 James Lynch headed west with his family looking for greener pastures. He got as far as a valley nestled between the hills of Palo Pinto County in Texas. Here the land was fertile but unfortunately water had to be hauled from the nearby Brazos River. For three years Lynch toted the water, but enough was enough. He needed a well. However, when one was finally drilled, its water looked and smelled foul. Still, it beat carrying buckets from the river, so the family drank the grimy water. And before long Mrs. Lynch noticed something remarkable. Her arthritis vanished! Word about the healing power of the water spread like wildfire and health-seekers began to stream to the well. Lynch quickly recognized the gleaming opportunity the mucky water presented. He drilled more wells, and soon his farm grew into a small town catering to the throngs who came to “take the waters.” Other speculators tried to cash in on the bonanza, and the crazy antics of one Billy Wiggins would put the town of Mineral Springs on the map.

Wiggins bought some property and drilled a well that was destined for fame. It was to this particular well that a demented lady, nicknamed “crazy woman” by the locals, came for water. When she supposedly regained her sanity, people took to referring to the water as “crazy water.” Wiggins capitalized, established the Crazy Water Company, and began to bottle “Crazy Water.” He sure wasn’t crazy. Money flooded in. Wiggins sold out to businessman Sidney Webb who built the Crazy Water Hotel, a luxury property with direct access to the water drinking pavilion. Soon it was joined by some forty-five other establishments to accommodate the 150,000 or so visitors who came to Mineral Wells every year for “the cure.” The water didn’t cure anyone of anything, but it did stimulate physical activity. Thanks to the copious amounts of sodium sulphate it contained, imbibers would often have to make a mad dash for the nearest toilet. Sodium sulphate, also known as Glauber’s salt, is an effective laxative!

In 1925 the Crazy Water Hotel was destroyed by a tragic fire but two Dallas businessmen, Carr and Hal Collins, stepped in to rebuild it as a posh resort. Then along came the stock market crash and the hotel started bleeding red ink. That’s when the Collins brothers came up with a clever idea. Since the supposed curative effects of the water were due to its mineral content, why not just sell the minerals? Easy to produce by evaporating the water, easy to package, easy to ship, and easy to hype. Live radio broadcasts from the Crazy Hotel mixed popular country music and humour with testimonials extolling the virtues of the “Crazy Water Crystals.” Sales soared. In the middle of the depression, people forked out three million dollars a year for a few pennies worth of sodium sulphate. Now, that was crazy!

Over 90 is the fastest growing segment of the population. All lived in Leisure world…now Laguna Woods. Leisure world cohort study. 14,000 filled questionnaire in 1981. Went after them. 6 million funding. Found over 1000. Checked from top to bottom every six months. Hour long cognitive tests and memory tests. 90 plus study. 45 minutes a day was best for exercise…3 hours not better. Didn’t have to be intense. Up to 2 drinks a day was good…any kind. 1-3 cups of coffee better than more or none. Not good to be skinny when old. Participants donate brains. At age 65 risk of dementia doubles every 5 years. 40% of the time over 90 what docs think is Alzheimer’s isn’t. Evidence of numerous microscopic strokes. Low blood pressure? High blood pressure lowers risk in a 90 year old.

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