NOLA DNA

New Orleans DNA has published the contents of my recent broadside/brochure.

http://noladna.com/

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Dr. Tichenor

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“DrTichenor1895Ad” by Dr. Tichenors & Sherrouse Medicine Co. LTD, New Orleans – Advertisement for Dr. Tichenor’s Antiseptic, 1895 Via [1]. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

When I was growing up, there were two main medications in my house: aloe vera and Dr. Tichenor’s. My mom treated many a scraped knee from my rambunctious bike riding with the stuff. My childhood memories are laced with the strong peppermint smell and sting of Dr. Tichenor’s. Dr. Tichenor’s antiseptic was invented by George H. Tichenor, a physician and Civil War veteran who moved to New Orleans, as so many entrepreneurs did, after the war. According to an excellent article on NolaVie by Keith Marshall: “The good doctor, so the story goes, was seriously wounded on the battlefield. A military physician was preparing to amputate one of his legs. Fortunately, Tichenor had sequestered in his knapsack a supply of his miracle elixir. He cleansed the wound himself and walked straight into medical history, allegedly saving the limbs of other wounded soldiers with what would become, as Cajun Pete would crow, ‘that good ole Dr. Tichenor’s — best antiseptics in town.’ “ In the 1880s, Dr. Tichenor’s son Rolla was attending law school at Tulane and joined the Louisiana Cycling Club. Riding high wheel bicycles was a hazardous hobby, and the riders had a tendency to injure themselves regularly, putting them in need of Dr. Tichenor’s antiseptic, then being sold by the company Tichenor and Sherrous, to treat the frequent scrapes and cuts they came by.

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Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,

Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Dr. Tichenor began taking out ads for his antiseptic in racing programs and donating bottles of it as prizes.

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Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,

Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Around 1890, Dr. Tichenor himself joined the LCC, riding one of the new “safety” bicycles that the allowed less athletic–and less inclined to injure themselves–to ride. Dr. Tichenor started the Dr. G. H. Tichenor Antiseptic Company in 1905, and his antiseptic became both an icon and a staple in all self-respecting southern households. It’s now marketed as a mouthwash, along with a toothpaste and an antiseptic gel. The FDA apparently still has it’s doubts about Dr. Tichenor’s famous formula. In a warning letter sent to the company last December they wrote: “Peppermint oil and alcohol 70% are not recognized as skin protectant active ingredients in 21 CFR 347.10. Furthermore, the Agency determined there is inadequate data to establish general recognition of the safety and effectiveness of alcohol for use as a Poison ivy, Poison oak, Poison sumac drug product under this monograph [21 CFR 310.545(a)(18)(vi)(A)].” Well fiddle dee dee. I’d still recommend throwing a bottle of Dr. Tichenor’s “mouthwash” in your bag for the treatment of cuts and scrapes. The FDA might not agree, but cyclists have known since the 19th century that stuff can treat anything.

The Louisiana Liberty Bill of 1890

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Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,

Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Signed by Governor Francis T Nicholls on June 13, 1890, House Bill No. 81, also known as the Louisiana Liberty Bill, granted all bicycles and tricycles and other foot or hand operated vehicles full rights to public roads.

The bill was finally passed after years of effort by members of the Louisiana Cycling Club, especially Harry H. Hodgson, who was the Chief Consul of the Louisiana Division of the League of American Wheelmen, and State Representative E.A. Shields, who was a member and president of the LCC.

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Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,

Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

The first attempt to pass such a bill, House Bill no. 283, was defeated in 1888, as the Judiciary Committee called it “useless legislation.” A writer who was probably Ritchie Betts, founder of the LCC, responded to the defeat of House Bill No. 283:

Wheelmen have much to contend with, that the outside world knows naught of. Boorish drivers, and prejudiced individuals are of this class, and it is only just to say that trouble and injury has been prevented more through the courtesy of the cyclers in giving way than of the first named set. “You have no right here anyway” seems to be the prevalent idea . . . .. [A] law that will give to one class of citizens a sense of legal security, make another class more cautious and circumspect and make the duty of the law’s magistrates clear and distinct, is certainly worthy of your time and earnest consideration and can hardly come under the head of “useless legislation.”

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A cartoon from the period shows a “Road Hog.”

Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,

Williams Research Center, The Historic New Orleans Collection

Following their defeat in 1888, the members of the LCC continued to push for cyclists’ rights and for state legislation to define their rights to the road. Finally, in 1890, House Bill No. 81 passed in the state legislature and was signed by Governor Nicholls on June 13th.

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Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,

Williams Research Center,

The Historic New Orleans Collection

This post dedicated to Philip “Geric” Geck

Click here to support Fund for Geric Geck’s final trip home.

Friends, cyclists gather to remember man killed in Marigny bike crash

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Louisiana Cycling Club Spokes Scrapbook, accession 98-62-L,

Williams Research Center,

The Historic New Orleans Collection