Harry

Marlin

According to various news services, bedbugs are back. They are showing no preference between $950 hotel rooms and cheap motels. Their return is blamed on foreign travel. That means that there are countries out there somewhere, who in hopes of getting rid of them are shipping them out with whoever passes by.

They were prevalent in Texas back in the 30s when nobody, that I ever knew engaged in foreign travel. A few folks, out of desperation, may have crossed the Rio Grande to Mexico to find out if things were better over there.

Apparently, they were as the Mexicans didnít come over here. Santa Anna, as far as I know was the last one to try it before recent times. Maybe he brought the bedbugs. Anyway, somebody did. We have a supply of every known plant, animal, and insect or tree that either bites, stings or punches a hole. Bedbugs, however, are not native Texans.

We did, at one time however, have a supply of the little biting buggers.

When I was a kid, back in the 30s, we moved a lot, always seeking a better house or land that hadnít been ďfarmed out.Ē Almost every old house we moved into already had a supply of bedbugs left by the previous tenant.

Pest control companies today say they are very expensive to get rid of, sometimes costing thousands of dollars. They donít know what Mama knew. With 20 cents worth of coal oil she could rid the place of bedbugs and kill every blue bug on the chicken roosts. Blue bugs too were blood suckers that preyed on chickens but left us alone.

Of course, today, coal oil seems to be in short supply. I havenít seen any in years. Back then, it was our cure all for nearly everything. A rag soaked with coal oil and tied around a kidís neck would cure a sore throat if anybody could hold him or her long enough to tie it.

We stuck our foot in a pan of coal oil when we stepped on a rusty nail and never had an infection or a case of lockjaw.

It was good for gunshot wounds and snakebites too and usually both happened at the same time when somebody was trying to shoot a snake.

Another cure for bedbugs that I heard of was to pour cheap whiskey mixed with gravel all over the house. It was said that they got drunk and stoned each other to death. Iíll bet the pest control companies havenít heard of that either.

With the population shift we have today and half the worldís population moving in with us, bedbugs are likely to be the least of our worries. Weíre going to get hit with everything theyíve got. Their motto, like American Express is, ďDonít leave home without it.Ē

At our airports they are only checked for guns, bombs and sharp objects. How about doing a bedbug check? What about bringing coal oil back? What about closing the borders and trying to live with what we already have?

I have no intention of doing any foreign travel. The military took care of that for me during World War II, but I didnít get even one bedbug. I recently visited some friends in the Texas Hill Country, but apparently that area is still bug free. I havenít had a bite yet.

Maybe thatís the reason land down there is selling for $10,000 an acre.

Harry Marlinís column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletinís Viewpoint page. This column was first published in December 2005. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net.