Got a message Sunday from Lash Wrigtenberry of Burlington. “Check out my Baseball Liniment bottle. It’s a part of Burlington’s history.”
What Lash had to share was indeed a new but pretty old find — and a rare one.
“I’ve been looking for one more than 20 years,” he said matter-of-factly.
In relative terms, I’m a Burlington newbie — I lived here from 1984 to 1992 and from 2007 to present. So I wasn’t too surprised that I wasn’t familiar with Baseball Liniment, which was produced in Burlington by the Pearson Remedy Co.
“I think until the 1950s,” said Wrightenberry.
I asked Managing Editor Jay Ashley about it. He wasn’t familiar with the product at all, at least not in relation to Burlington. He figured that “baseball liniment” was a term he’d heard before in relation to a generic salve used to loosen sore arms.
Don Bolden, the Times-News editor emeritus and area historian, did know of it.
“(The)) plant was on Union Avenue. Could see it from Fisher. I thought I might have a bottle, but I have two old bottles of some kind of laxative they made, still in the old cartons. I think Mayor Earl Horner’s family was involved in that place, it was right behind his house which was on Fisher.”
I couldn’t find much information online about Pearson Remedy Co., except that the bottles are rare and potentially valuable. Most of what I could track down was from a website for Raleigh bottle collectors.
Wrightenberry said the operation was run by the Horner family, headed by Mr. Charles Horner, who lived in a large stucco house on Fisher Street, which is off Ruffin Street not far from the downtown area, Mayor Earl Horner lived on Fisher Street, too. The Pearson Remedy Co. was in a two to three story building on Union Avenue behind where the Horners lived.
“Pearson Remedy Co. was behind the mayor’s house. What is called Horner’s Alley connects Union Avenue and Fisher Street,” Wrightenberry said.
“This has brought back a lot of good memories.”
Wrightenberry came across the bottle by accident — pretty much how anyone happens upon long-lost objects, but especially bottles or other items so easily broken. Wrightenberry’s spouse happened to be talking to an elderly lady in Gibsonville and somehow the subject turned to liniment. The elderly lady said that she had just thrown out a bottle that had been in her medicine cabinet for many, many years. When she fetched it from the trash, Wrightenberry’s spouse remarked that her husband might like to own the bottle and took it home.
Quite a rescue, I’d say.
“Those are pretty rare now I would think,” Don said when I told him the whole story.
Makes me wonder if my mom has any bottles of Baseball Liniment taking up space in the back of some cabinet.