Archived Story

Write Again … Hardrock and the ‘atom bomb’

Published 8:20pm Monday, February 18, 2013

Aches. Strains. Sprains.
Tender muscles. Charley horses.
Just about any external ailment or injury, the treatment rarely varied.
“Atom bomb.” Heat lamp. Or whirlpool.
The favorite of Coach Coppy Wagner far and away was “atom bomb.”
That’s what the players called analgesic balm.
Few Pam Pack football players got through their playing days without, at some point, getting up close and personal with this.
This reddish, thick guck was almost always the coach’s first choice. He would slather it on the problem area very liberally, using a tongue depressor.
On most body parts “atom bomb” wasn’t too difficult to bear. On most body parts, that is.
However, if a player had a problem in the groin and buttocks areas, well, things could get warm. Then hot. Then pure fire. As in, “Get this
stuff off of me, because I’m burning up.” It would get your mind off the problem being treated.
Now, there was one condition that could present problems. Serious problems.
Players had a name for it, as did just about all athletes everywhere.
A rash is what it was, but it was known as (I guess it’s acceptable to say right here in this newspaper) “jock itch.” A bad case could be a real torment, and that is an understatement. Should said rash be in proximity of the area to be treated, then you had a real “sit-u-ation.”
During the 1954 football season, “Hardrock” was our center. He had a fairly mild muscle problem, and he also had developed the “itch.” Unfortunately, both problems seemed to be in that same tender region of the body.
Now, without being too specific, let me continue.
Shortly after — no, immediately after our coach generously applied the atom bomb — Hardrock began to feel the heat of Hades. He started hollering.
And now, reader friends, let me ask you to engage your mind’s visual mechanisms, for I mustn’t be too specific here.
You see, Hardrock leapt off of the training table (bear in mind, he didn’t have much on, in the way of attire) and bolted out the door of the fieldhouse, plopped himself on the ground in a sitting position and then began to slide — no, slide doesn’t really work here — drag himself backwards in an attempt to let the grass and dirt rub some of the fiery substance off.
All this while he was hollering, obviously in agony.
Now, I forget how this all resolved itself, but eventually the pain subsided, it seemed. Anyway, he stopped hollering.
Hardrock doesn’t live here now, so he won’t see this, I hope.
If anyone has his address, please let me ask a favor of you: don’t send it to him.
I’ll bet you he still remembers his “atom bomb” day.

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