Or, If It’s Too Good To Be True . . .
In 1998, when Mom decided to sell the farm, we had a grand clean-out of the house and shop. The shop had quite the history of its own. It had started life in 1910 as the two-room script house on S 25-8-7-W3 in which my grandparents wintered. In 1917, it was moved across the section and attached to the new house to serve as parlour and bedroom. When the house was enlarged in 1925-26, it was removed and transformed into Grandpa Hanna’s shop. He did his blacksmithing and general repair work in what had been the “front room.”
I don’t know what Grandpa Hanna used the back room for. In my time, Dad used it as a general catch-all room, containing whatever didn’t end up in the junk pile out back of the shop. I never ventured that far into the shop; it was too scary.
The 1998 clean-out turned into a treasure hunt. Yes, that room contained a lot of junk, but we found scythes and sickles, an ancient foot-pedaled wood lathe complete with tools, and the weirdest looking device called an Overbeck’s Rejuventor contained in a wooden box. I was curious. What was this device used for?
This was the early days of the “information highway,” but it was extensive enough I was able to find the patent information. Ooh, scary.
Mr. Overbeck patented this cure-all – and according to him there was nothing it couldn’t cure – in England in 1924 (1926 in Canada). It consisted of either combs or cylinders, plus a footplate, to be attached to a battery. The sufferer then ran the electrified combs/cylinders over the afflicted part of the body and Voila! – relief!
I didn’t keep the device, mostly because pieces were missing. It went into the auction sale. Someone, probably an antique dealer, bought it. That, I thought, was the last time I would ever see Mr. Overbeck’s Rejuvenator.
This summer, I ventured into an antique store in the town of Leader, SK. There, amidst the plates and hats and books and toys and light fixtures and miscellaneous tools and furniture was a complete Overbeck’s Rejuvenator stashed away on a shelf. It was like running into an old friend. The store owner admitted I was the first person who knew what it was. She let me examine the entire thing and take photographs.
The complete Rejuventor is even scarier to look at than the partial one that had been in our old shop. To think that someone would willingly run this thing over his/her body, and – even more incredible – would believe that it would cure them! How gullible they must be! And yet, even today, we hear of medical miracles that will cure whatever ails us. Snake oil is still available.
My thanks to Patty Haeberle of Red River Trading Co., Leader SK, for allowing me to photograph Overbeck’s Rejuvenator and to use the photos in this post. If you’re ever in Leader, check out her store. Maybe the Rejuvenator will still be there, just in case you’re looking for a cure for arthritis or asthma or deafness or valvular lesion of the heart or . . .
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You can read why Abe acquired this device in Chapter 42, “Abe’s Last Journey,” in “Our Bull’s Loose in Town!” Tales from the Homestead. Eventually, he realized it wasn’t giving him any of the promised relief, so he threw it in the back of the shop where we found it 60 years later.
#HannaFamilyHistory #OverbeckRejuvenator #MeyronneHistory #MedicalQuackery