With hoopla and purple prose this ex-sidewalk hawker sells pills and potions to Canadians who are fat, tired, sweaty and nervous. But he can’t cure the jitters he still gets when he remembers the vaudeville-hoofing days when he was brokeEARLE BEATTIE January 15 1955
With hoopla and purple prose this ex-sidewalk hawker sells pills and potions to Canadians who are fat, tired, sweaty and nervous. But he can’t cure the jitters he still gets when he remembers the vaudeville-hoofing days when he was brokeEARLE BEATTIE January 15 1955
FOR THE PAST five years Canadians troubled with body odor, excess fat, headaches, executive’s jitters and other ailments, including some imaginary ones, have paid six million dollars for eleven drugstore remedies manufactured by a Toronto firm called Adrem, Ltd. All these remedies have been dreamed up, put into production or promoted by a former carnival spieler named John Henry Part—a hearty fast-talking huckster of forty-three with receding blond hair, dark-shell glasses and a round, energetic face.
In pug-ugly newspaper ads Part has persuaded medicine-minded Canadians they can rid themselves of sweaty smells by swallowing his green chlorophyll pill Voids; relax their jangling nerves with his Sedicin tablets; alert their reeling senses with his caffein Wake-ups; whiten their stained teeth with his Fluradene tooth paste; murder mouth germs and control dandruff with his liquid Voidoreen; quiet their nervous stomachs with his Executabs; ease sore throats with a lozenge called Adremicin; trick diet-starved stomachs into feeling fed with Diettes, a pasty wafer; sooth poison ivy with a creamy Sooze; end their slavish nicotine habit with small yellow pellets called Ozotron; and kill rheumatic pains, gas and liver troubles with a black syrup, Sarnak.
Part’s remedies, which have made him a millionaire since he impulsively launched Adrem one August day in 1950, have been praised in free testimonials by many of their users and attacked by others. They’re in the “proprietary-medicine” class, which places them somewhere in between the eminently respectable “prescription drugs” obtainable only on doctors’ orders and the flightier “patent medicines.”
Prescription medicines are tops in the field because they contain drugs that are usually effective in relieving pain and powerful to a point where a large overdose might kill the user. Hence their control by the medical profession.
The proprietary medicines contain less effective drugs which may, in many instances, have no effect at all. Their ingredients must be printed on the label and they can be sold over the counter without doctors’ prescriptions.
Patent medicines, so-called because the maker has taken out a patent on his secret formula, require only the patent number on the label and are sold most widely of all, from grocery stores to country fairs. Some, like liniment, can be useful; others can be completely useless.
Jack Part’s dizzy success in hawking proprietary medicines is due to his quick anticipation of the next drugstore craze. He’s not always been first with a remedy, but he’s fast and he's come into the market with a medicine-man advertising flourish like the Congo beating of tom-toms.
He’s quite frank about his witch-doctor approach. “Scratch the surface of the average patent-medicine buyer and you have a person who, in the right, circumstances, will turn to the supernatural for guidance,” Part says. Using a primitive scare technique with black headlines that work like incantations, omens of ill, medical jargon and signed testimonies of belief, he works on modern mass responses with half-page ads that reach further back into psychology than his competitors care to go.
But Part’s primitive appeal to the drug-buying public has not been all black magic. His success with Adrem, Limited (the name is short for “advertised remedies”) came after thirty nervy years as a vaudeville hoofer, carnival spieler, itinerant medicine man, radio sage and high-pressure salesman.
When most boys his age were still in high school, he jumped into the jazzy Twenties, plunking a banjo in Detroit speak-easies. In the hungry Thirties he scrubbed floors in a Toledo workmen’s lunch, toured southern Ontario with his stage-trouper parents, wrote astrological forecasts for Dr. Chase’s almanac, dispensed radio advice to the lovelorn and peddled a disparate variety of small-wares all the way from Windsor to the West Indies. These experiences have left him depression-haunted.
By the mid-Thirties “Smiling Jack Part” was on his feet financially with his own advertising agency, preparing commercials for radio stations, and by 1945 he had started radio station CHUM in Toronto with three partners. Until recently he owned CHUM with Richard T. Fulford of Toronto, who also owns a medicine business, C. E. Fulford, Limited, manufacturers of Zambuk and other remedies.
Part had long been annoyed by the demands made on him by clients of his advertising agency, many of whom disliked his solar-plexus ads. Sitting in the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal one August night in 1950 he suddenly turned to his business associate, Allan Waters, then twenty-eight, and said, “I’m sick of the agency business. Let’s get out of it. We’ll start a drug company. You can be the president and I’ll be the chairman of the board —and I’ll be the only chairman who writes his own advertising copy.”
Within thirty days Part had closed up all his agency accounts by sending polite notes to the clients and created his drug house. His first medicine, the black syrup painkiller Sarnak, failed to show a profit during a trial run in eastern Canada late that summer, and he almost gave up. But, recalling the depression year 1933 when he had done well in the west selling herbal tonics with Chief Rising Sun’s Indian medicine show, he decided to give Sarnak a fling in western Canada.
On Monday, September 25, Winnipeg citizens saw the foreign-sounding word SARNAK staring at them in bold Gothic letters from big ads in the Free Press and Tribune—offered as a remedy for such diverse ailments as “arthritic pain, nutritional anaemia, heartburn, bloat, backache and some kidney and liver upsets.” The price was $1.35 for an eight-ounce bottle.
The ad said “Act Now!”—but not many Winnipeggers did. The next day a big three-quarter-page ad took over where the first one left off, this time picturing a tight-lipped, decisive man pointing into the reader’s eyes and saying, “Give Me One Week To Make You Better!”
The confident-looking man was Jack Part. At that moment he was pacing up and down in Winnipeg’s St. Charles Hotel, worried sick. The clean-cut, boyish face that earned him the nickname “Smiling Jack” in his vaudeville days was beaded with perspiration and his blue-grey eyes mirrored indecision. He was trying to decide whether to spend another eight hundred dollars on ads to stimulate lagging sales or to pack up and go home. With him were his new partner, Allan Waters, and Harry Saul, advertising manager of the Free Press.
Part and Waters had driven to Winnipeg with a carful of Sarnak samples, a sheaf of high-pressure ads, personally canvassed all the drug stores, got their goods prominently displayed, then placed the ads. Sales in Winnipeg, test city of the west, meant life or death for Adrem.
At five minutes to the Free Press deadline for ads Part suddenly became the decisive man in the ad again, turned to Saul and exclaimed, “Okay, Harry, run the ad one more time. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to pull.”
A few hours after the papers were on the street, a swelling flood of sales began carrying every available bottle of the new painkiller off drugstore counters. Between repeated calls from wholesalers and retailers, Part managed to phone his Toronto office to ship all Sarnak in stock to Winnipeg. Then he phoned newspapers throughout the west to insert copies of the Sarnak ad he had mailed out earlier.
Saul, who has been in the newspaper advertising business forty-seven years, says, “I’ve never seen anything like it for quick acceptance. It went boom, boom, boom, fast! Part didn’t sell, he forced distribution.” Between October 1950 and August 31, 1951, Sarnak sales totaled $750,000 as fifty carloads of the bottled black syrup rolled out of Toronto, each one labeled “Another freight car of Sarnak for western Canada.” In all parts of Canada, a million bottles have been sold to date.
Recently, Maclean’s engaged a doctor of pharmacology to make a thorough chemical analysis of all the medicines and potions which Part’s firm merchandises and to report on their efficacy. His report shows that what the Sarnak fans have taken, mostly, is an acid drug used in headache pills such as Aspirin. Combined with other drugs it can relieve pain, if the pain is not too severe, and lower the temperature in fever.
With Sarnak sales acting like a tonic in their blood, Part and Waters whisked back to Toronto, bought a $30,000 bottling machine—which paid for itself in three months—and started turning out more medicines. In eighteen months they outgrew three factories, then built the present Adrem laboratories on the outskirts of Toronto, later adding two wings to bring the value of the business and its equipment to a quarter of a million dollars.
Part hired as his production chemist H. K. McFarland, who now has a staff of thirty. He passes his ideas for new remedies on to McFarland for production and gets additional advice on the actual formulas for his medicines from Dr. Maurice Adelman, a private consultant formerly of the University of Toronto department of chemical engineering. Dr. George Lucas, a pharmacologist, who helped perfect an anaesthetic called cyclopropane that is used all over the world, advises on poison dangers.
A Formula for Fast Sales
Today Part is the proprietary medicine king of Canada.
He has spent a million dollars in advertising to get the six millions back in total sales, and his assets—he recently sold his quarter-million-dollar interest in CHUM—run close to two million dollars. He weighs a hundred and ninety pounds, speaks with the expressive facial contortions and flailing arms of a stage comedian, has the lively vocabulary of a drill sergeant, and suffers from ulcers. His youthful partner, Waters, whom he hired as an office boy in 1938 at sixteen dollars a week is now worth about a quarter of a million dollars.
Part’s private formula for mass sales has four ingredients: his journalistic research system, his first-hand knowledge of public psychology, his sense of timing, and what he calls “my crass-type ads.” He pays seven hundred dollars a month to clipping services that send him items on medical discoveries and new drugs, clipped from every big publication in North America. And he reads through an avalanching mass of pharmacy journals, median texts, scientific papers and pop-out magazines seeking a new trade gimmick.
He cashed in on the public frenzy over chlorophyll by reading medical papers and making tests with this extract from green, growing plants. Public interest seared after Paul de Kruif published an article in August 1950 claiming chlorophyll tablets had proved effective. “I knew this was it,” Part says. He went into production immediately and by January 1951 had put his own green tablet Voids on the market as “nature’s deodorant.”
Like Sarnak, the anti-odor pill was launched with bold, voodoo appeal: “Swallow this Voids tablet, Stop Breath and Body Odor.” Offering “head-to-toe protection” the ad carried four unpretty pictures illustrating underarm odors, sweaty feet, bad breath and “difficult days.” Small ads said “Cocktails for Two and Breathe in the Boss’ face.” A Voids tablet taken at bedtime and another the next day were supposed to banish all perspiration odors within two hours. Chewed, the sweet-tasting pill was to drive off bad breath, provided the teeth were clean.
Public acceptance was instantaneous. A quarter of a million dollars’ worth was sold in six weeks. One woman wrote that she found Voids also worked well on her dogs. Part thereupon sent samples to newspaper columnists telling them if they didn’t need them personally to try them on their pets. From Williams Lake, B.C., a woman wrote that if Voids were going to banish alcohol from men’s breath, wives would have to attach small lie detectors to their husbands.
At this point, Part ran into unexpected trouble. The big U. S. drug firm, Rystan, sued him on charges of infringing their chlorophyll patent and for unfair competition. Part and his lawyers settled out of court.
In January 1952 Part combined the still avid interest in chlorophyll with a brand-new magic name, fluoridation, to produce a green tooth paste called Fluradene for the highly competitive dentifrice market. He had been watching the public wonder grow around fluoridation ever since the Brantford, Ont., health department and federal Department of Health began tests on tooth decay by putting sodium fluoride in the drinking water of Brantford school children. In October 1951 a report from Brantford indicated fluoridation produced a thirty-one percent reduction in decay in the Brantford children’s teeth.
“This was it!” Part says. “We whacked the two—chlorophyll and fluoride—together and produced Fluradene.” He wasn’t first on the market, but he was noisiest. His headline ad said it “Stops mouth odors, whitens the teeth, combats decay and helps the gums.” Unsightly art work in the ad showed teeth before and after using Fluradene. In the “after” picture the grey part of the engraving was etched away, leaving a bleached-white effect, a trick Part picked up from the soap companies showing white shirts before and after washing with their soap. Actually the dentists say that fluoride in tooth pastes or powders does not reduce tooth decay.
When the inevitable knocks came in against the chlorophyll commercializers, Part handled them as academic heckling. Two University of Glasgow researchers reported they had eaten asparagus and found chlorophyll tablets had no effect in removing the odor. Part contended in Drug Merchandising, Canadian trade journal for pharmacists, that the professors probably hadn’t taken a bath first. He said the subject should not take Voids until he “thoroughly removes from the skin surface by means of bathing any previous odor.”
Then some rhymster touched off a public reaction with:
Why stinks the goal on yonder hill
Who seems to dote on chlorophyll?
To which Part snorts: “You could chew six heads of lettuce and it wouldn’t help you. The chlorophyll has to be processed in a chemical solution. Your own juices won’t convert it. But you might try eating grass and washing it down with a bottle of whisky. That would have the same effect as chlorophyll in solution.”
Pharmacologists insist however that no conclusive evidence exists that chlorophyll is a deodorant. The Maclean’s chemical analysis says: “The effect may be considered harmless.”
Part sold half a million dollars’ worth of Fluradene tooth paste; then half a dozen chlorophyll tooth pastes from the U. S., supported by million-dollar ad campaigns, crowded him into the back of the market.
His third try at chlorophyll was a germ-killing mouthwash called Voidoreen. He claimed that besides cleaning the mouth it would control dandruff and was also a good after-shave lotion. Voidoreen was a failure from the first. When this triple-threat antiseptic sold less than $50,000 worth, Part withdrew it quietly from the market. The Maclean’s analysis of this product shows that all the substances would act as “weak antiseptics” which are all the mouth can tolerate without being burned. The conclusion was, “The main action of this material would be to leave a pleasant taste in the mouth.”
While Jack Part was still waiting for results of the Brantford fluoridation tests, he had his chemists concoct a sleeping pill called Sedicin, which serves also as a nerve calmer in daytime. He touted it in half-page ads that announced in two-inch-high headlines: “You Can Sleep Tonight.” No morning hang-over would result, they said, and no prescription was necessary.
A Pill With Snob Appeal
Sedicin turned out to be Part’s bonanza. “I had a red-hot smash on my hands,” he says. “The middle and upper class wanted it. The lower class was lucky; they didn’t need it.” His sales reached the million-dollar mark. This time Part had produced a medicine that was too potent. It contained an effective sedative drug known as carbromal which so alarmed the federal health department they had it placed on the prescription list by order-in-council.
As Part’s entire sales pitch is slanted for over-the-counter sales, he removed carbromal and substituted a non-sedative drug called theobromine sodium salicylate which considerably reduced its effect. “In the amounts present in one tablet, none of the ingredients would have much action,” the Maclean’s chemical analyst reports.
In 1953 Part pulled out all the st' in his drug factory to produce five new products, all oddly different. First came Executabs, a snob-appeal and acid tablet for ulcerating businessmen and those who fancied themselves as “the executive type.” It became his third best seller. The Maclean’s report reveals that the tablet contains twelve grains of a drug that neutralizes acid in the stomach—an effective dose used by physicians in the treatment of peptic ulcer.
Then came the caffein pep-up pill Wake-Ups appealing to drowsy stenographers, students cramming for exams, all-night drivers and tired urbanites faced with the need to keep gay for the evening party, or the need to snap out of the morning after the gay evening. One Wake-Up pill contains about the same amount of caffein as an average cup of tea or coffee; two of them will remove the sense of fatigue, according to the Maclean’s test. As coffee sells for ten cents a cup, Wake-Up pills at twenty-five cents for a box of twelve were reasonable, the testers concluded.
In the summer of 1953 Part brought out his mosquito-bite cream Sooze, a local anaesthetic containing benzocaine which can relieve itching; in October came Diettes, a large pasty wafer containing flour, oatmeal and other ingredients which, taken with water, forms a jellylike mass in the stomach to give dieting fatties that full feeling. The basic ingredient is methyl cellulose, a harmless substance which sells at $1 for 500 grams (about one ounce). Diettes sell at $1.95 for thirty wafers with a total of 270 grams. In December Part brought out Adremicin, a sorethroat lozenge which also contains benzocaine and has a surface anaesthetic effect in the mouth. The price is less than that of two competitive brands.
Ten Days to Stop Smoking
Jack Part’s carnival-pitch sense of timing was at its sharpest early last year when he appeared in the midst of the cigarette-cancer controversy with a shiny yellow pill called Ozotron, advertised to end the tobacco habit. He was buoyed into the market by medical experiments showing that mice contracted cancer when their skins were painted with cigarette tar and by surveys that showed the life span of cigarette smokers was shorter than that of non-smokers.
As public interest grew, Part’s banner headlines arrived like life preservers: “HOW TO STOP SMOKING—Ten Day Easy Method Now Makes It Possible.” One hundred thousand people bought boxes of Ozotron at $1.95 each in the first six weeks they went on sale. Most of the advertising carried testimony by Jack Spence on how Ozotron helped him quit smoking. Spence is Part’s office manager at Adrem.
Ozotron’s ten-day method, outlined in a small booklet tucked inside the box, is more psychology than pill taking, using autosuggestion and social ridicule. The nicotine slave is told to take one tablet after each meal. But first he should tell himself that smoking is injurious, useless and expensive, inform all his friends that he’s quitting; never carry a box of cigarettes in his pocket; and, when he slips, put a check mark in one of the ten squares on the back of the box—“remembering the laughs you will hear from your friends when they hear you have slipped.”
The pills contain a small dose of lobeline sulphate. About twenty years ago Irving Wright and David Littauer, U. S. doctors, experimented with this drug and found that a larger dose —about thirteen times the amount used in Ozotron—produces an intense nausea which discourages smoking, but also disrupts appetite and the ability to work. The vomiting and other effects made the treatment too drastic. Ozotron, with its very low dosage, would not have this effect, according to the Maclean’s chemist, but at the same time he said it was hard to see how it would then have any effect on smoking. The psychological treatment of self-will and friendly ridicule used by Part might, however, break the habit.
To put his drugs across, Part became a modern medicine man using highspeed presses and radio, but his ads are as old-fashioned as sulphur and molasses. He abhors the “pretty ad” with its artistic layout and indirect appeal. “Make it crass!” he says vehemently. “Our lousy ads sell a staggering amount of goods and that’s good enough for me.” His “pitch” in the metropolitan daily is similar, he says, to the time “I stood in a Detroit doorway selling corn remover to a crowd of twenty while another guy watched for the Cops. Now I’m talking to four hundred thousand people with a big page. I like that big page.”
He started his pitchman career at the age of ten selling knickknacks on Saturdays to farmers and lumberjacks in Ottawa’s market place. When other kids were reading Barney Google, young Part read the show-business paper, Variety. At fifteen he ran away with a circus touring the Ottawa Valley. When the truant officer came around, clowns, trapeze artists and various freaks hustled him from tent to tent. But three months later, his father, Burt Q’Part— the family name was once Quarrell-Part, but the father shortened the Quarrell to Q and Jack discarded it altogether—caught up with him, a stern look on his face, but a nostalgic glint in his eye.
Part senior, now a vigorous man of eighty, as a boy of twelve in England had been fascinated by the great conjurer Bartram. He got an engineer’s degree but never used it because he went from university into show business, touring England, Africa and the eastern United States. He did magic tricks while Mrs. Q’Part did sketches in a medicine show. They settled down in Montreal, where Jack was born in 1910, then moved to Ottawa in 1917, where Burt Q’Part helped restore the burned-out parliament buildings as a stonemason.
Popped back into an Ottawa school, young Part played a banjo at a vaudeville theatre in his spare time. In 1925 the family moved to Windsor where Jack spent a half term at Assumption College, emerging from there to become a salesman.
Arthur Boynton, manager of a men’s tailoring shop in Windsor recalls how young Q’Part—then sixteen—answered his help-wanted ad: “He came in here with a bowler hat on the crook of his arm, a blond kid with curly hair and very gabby, asked how much the job paid and started to work before I offered it to him.”
Detroit’s bright lights appealed to the stage-struck young salesman. So he dusted off his banjo and began to play in burlesque houses and speakeasies, teamed in with troupers twice his age. But his father hauled him back over the border and placed him in the somewhat less exciting atmosphere of the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph because his uncle taught there. Lacking sufficient high-school credits he landed on a tobacco farm for six months.
A year later his farm education ended forever in a blaze of Toronto Star headlines. He and five pals had so severely hazed a newly arrived group of English schoolboys at OAC that they were charged with assault. They got off, but not before Toronto reporters rushed to the scene. Part’s gang dumped two of them in the swimming pool and Part headed back to Detroit.
That brought the wayward banjo-playing salesman, who was then eighteen, into the first blast of the depression. “I just got started,” he says, “when Al Jolson knocked the props out from under vaudeville and talking pictures took over.”
He had thirty odd jobs in six months. He was a vacuum-cleaner salesman, a department-store demonstrator, a mop-man in a cafeteria, a song-shop clerk, a skip tracer for a finance company, a spot-remover for a dry-cleaning plant, a song-plugger in a sheet-music store, a theatre usher, a bricklayer, a carpenter, stonemason and booking agent. He also lectured on social diseases at “health” movies, wrote dream books and sold encyclopedias.
These experiences, which Part calls “indescribable” scarred him so deeply he’s been depression-haunted ever since. “I never drive my Cadillac out in the morning without thinking of those days,” he says. “I never eat a good meal or take a hotel suite without thinking of the contrast. I don’t take anything for granted.”
As the depression deepened, Part went home to Windsor and pulled himself and his father out of the doldrums by organizing a family road show. In May all the Parts—father, mother and Jack—accompanied by a small troupe, took to the Ontario highways in a 1928 Buick, boarded up like a gypsy caravan with a sign “Famous Q Shows” on top, and pulling a sleeper trailer. Mother Q’Part did monologues, Pa was a mind reader and Jack did chalk talks and played the banjo. They played in towns and villages on highways and side roads for two years, then Jack called a halt. He had a terrific idea: he would start his own medicine company.
Southern Ontario citizens soon heard of a “wonderful Indian herbal remedy” called Me-Me-Cho for sufferers of constipation, neuritis, kidney trouble and other ailments. Part had got two partners in Hamilton to put up the $250 capital to get started, got the cough syrup manufactured and bottled in Toronto and then hit the road with his father, peddling Me-Me-Cho to drugstores. To help boost sales Burt Q’Part broadcast advice to the lovelorn from local radio stations as “Prof. Harry Burt, the Voice of Experience.”
Me-Me-Cho might have made Part a millionaire twenty-two years ago, for he grossed $50,000 in three months at the depth of the depression. But unfortunately he had been sending the money back to his Hamilton partners to bank and they decamped to Mexico with the $26,000 profit, ruining his credit and leaving him loaded with debt.
Mind Reading in Beer Halls
Cleaned out completely, Part was dusting off his banjo again when he got an offer to take over the ten-kilowatt station in Stratford, Ont.; it had been off the air for six weeks and he was to get seventy-five percent of the net to get it going. He bought fire-sale records at five cents each and became a one-man radio station, literally. He sold the ads, wrote the commercials and did the announcing from the control booth, where he also operated the controls to put himself on the air.
But nine months later he was out of a job again. Parliament had set up the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission and Part got a telegram from Ottawa to cut off the commercials. The station’s license had been for amateur operation one of the dozens of “ham stations” that were springing up across the country. His income dropped from $200 a week seventy-five percent of the station’s net.....to zero.
Disgusted, Part took off for the West Indies with a medicine show selling patent remedies. “At Jamaica they welcomed us as if we were visiting royalty,” he recalls. “They let us use the city park free and the police band headed our parade every day.” Just when things were good for him again he came down with malaria, was shipped back to Key West and had to work his way to Michigan where he played his banjo and did a mind reading act in beer halls.
Then one night in Detroit he heard a broadcast from Kitchener advertising a cough medicine called “Mason’s 49.” He wired Percy Mason, its manufacturer, that he could promote it better than that, got a reply to come at once, and drove all night to Kitchener.
Mason’s turned out to be a half-empty store with a staff of one girl, listlessly stirring the medicine in a washtub. Standing beside her was a tall, stern man, the sheriff, with a writ to seize the goods. He was waiting for Mason but went away without finding him. Mason rushed in later, loaded all the syrup into a car and took off, accompanied by Part.
To put Mason’s 49 back on its feet, Part went on the air at Kitchener with a “mentalist” act, advising listeners where to find lost dogs, wrist watches and other articles. He told one girl she could find her lost sweetheart at the Windsor docks if she went there at a certain time. She waited there three days until the police persuaded her to leave.
“People who believe in mind reading are potential buyers of patent medicines,” Part says.
Mason’s 49 began to sell so well Part and Mason moved up to Toronto’s big station, CFRB, in the fall of 1933. Among the letters Part received as a radio sage were twelve unsigned confessions of murder by women wanting to know if they would get their husbands’ insurance. Came April, however, and Part found nobody had any coughs left, so he went out west with Chief Rising Sun, a full-blooded Indian who was a trick roper and bronco buster, in a medicine show.
Mason’s was broke again when he got back—no syrup, no bottles and no working capital—so Part and Mason formed a partnership. Part pulled off what he considers his greatest salesman feat. He charmed a chain-store manager into trusting him for three hundred pounds of sugar, got a drugstore to buy several gross in advance, took their purchase order to a bank, discounted it to get cash, and bought the other ingredients. They got the Harold F. Ritchie Company, sales agency and manufacturers (Brylcreem, fruit salts) to act as distributors. Mason talked a glass company into advancing them five gross of bottles. They rented a small plant on the top floor of the Ritchie building and started producing Mason’s 49 again. They grossed $20,000 that winter.
Part started writing his own ad copy. One day he was looking around for a new gimmick when he asked Mason what the 49 meant. “It doesn’t mean anything,” Mason told him. “I just liked the sound of the 83 in Seagram’s, so I called my medicine 49.”
Part promptly turned the meaningless figures into an advertising pitch that claimed the California placer miners in the gold rush of 1849 took a similar cough medicine to ward off the rigors of outdoor work. Mason’s 49 never did become a best seller, but a jingle verse that Part wrote—one of the first singing commercials to bother the public—caught on across Canada:
Stop that cough, stop that cold,
In the nick of time.
Don't delay, it doesn't pay—
Take Mason's 49!
Mason died in 1942 and Part took over the firm. Today Mason’s 49 is Jack Part’s only product in the patent class. Its recipe, therefore, is a patent-protected secret; but a cursory analysis by the Maclean’s pharmacologist shows it contains sweet syrups, salines (salts) and aromatic materials such as syrup of white pine and tar. Sweet substances soothe cough irritations by protecting the inflamed lining of the throat and salines ease a “dry cough” by stimulating secretions in the bronchial tubes. Other things that dull sensation in the brain and so reduce useless coughing can be given only in prescription cough medicines.
Five Dollars For Hot News
Part’s glib ad-writing ability had brought him to the attention of other drug firms and he started writing commercials for them. He soon found himself in the advertising agency business and also set up a companion company, Exclusive Radio Features, which recorded sponsored programs and sent transcriptions to about forty stations. His interests pyramided up again in 1945, when he and R. T. Fulford backed a new radio station with the amiable name of CHUM.
CHUM made a name for itself by scooping all other stations on the Noronic disaster of 1949 for which it received the annual award for top North American news coverage in the radio field presented by Variety, the show-business magazine. For the news department it was the pay-off on an ingenious “teleflash” news system whereby anyone phoning a hot news tip to the station received five dollars. At 2 a.m. on the day the Noronic burned at its Toronto dock, a taxi driver phoned CHUM announcer Larry Mann at his home to tell him he had seen a ship in flames while driving along the waterfront.
Mann, now with the CBC, routed Mike Hopkins and Phil Stone out of bed, and they rushed to the disaster scene with tape recorders to begin a marathon coverage. Listeners tuning in for the breakfast broadcast that day heard detailed eyewitness and survivor stories of the worst inland marine tragedy in Canadian history. Thousands more in Cleveland, Ohio, a sailing point of the Noronic, heard the same firsthand accounts a few hours later as the CHUM men air-expressed their tapes to station WTAM there.
Two years ago CHUM startled the radio world again by cutting out all disc-jockey patter, all hot jazz and Dixieland music for the “soft sound” of pops, semi-classics and sentimental ballads. The change was made by CHUM’s husband and wife managers, Bob and Leigh Lee (Bob has since left CHUM to go into the radio advertising field). They got the idea from movie star Tony Martin, “the singer with a man’s voice,” when he was at the Canadian National Exhibition as a headliner in 1952, and passed it on to Jack Part.
Personally fed up with the stereotyped radio format which jumped indiscriminately from cooking schools to jazz bands and the incessant patter of announcers, Part sent the Lees to Dallas, Texas, to look into station KXIL’s success with Martin’s idea there. They returned with a favorable report and the jockeys were silenced in favor of druglike music.
“The screamers—Johnny Ray, Frankie Laine and that crowd—were out,” says Phil Stone, program director. Quiz shows and giveaways also went into the discard. Platter jockeys, who look for fame and fortune by creating fans, were left speechless. Two quit. But CHUM’s abrupt changeover proved popular, for its Hooper rating —index to listener attention—went up several points.
Part recently sold out his shares in the radio station to devote all his time to the growing drug business. He finds he can now check into his office at 9.30 a.m. and leave at 4.30, go home to his colonial-style house in Forest Hill Village and play model railroad with his seven-year-old son Richard. Summer weeks and spring and fall week ends he goes to his cottage in northwestern Quebec where he hunts, fishes and goes motorboat racing on Lake Rousseau.
He has few other diversions. Once he tried to take up golf. “I’d get to the ninth hole and say to myself there isn’t anything here. This game doesn’t let me sound off.” Another time he considered buying a stable of riding horses. “But I didn’t,” he says vehemently, “because I'd think of those extra mouths to feed.”
In spite of his easier pace, Jack Part, the depression-haunted millionaire, still stews about security so much that his partner Waters often has to remind him how rich he is. One day when Part was moaning out loud Waters snapped: “Look, Jack, what have you got to worry about? If the worst came to the worst, how much would a fire sale of your interests bring you?”
“About $600,000—for a fire sale,” Part replied. “And I have $300,000 life insurance,” he added sheepishly.
Although Part has made a fortune with pills and potions to cure other people’s aches and pains, he has never found a remedy to banish the jitters he still gets himself when he thinks about the days he spent with wandering medicine shows, bankrupt promotions and a banjo to plug his wares. ★