Sunday, June 21, 2009

John Joseph Houghtaling

I’ve noticed my reading habits have changed with age. Once upon a time, I thought the front page news deserved my attention. Later on, the sports page took over as the “first page” read. Lately I’ve been turning directly to the real estate section. I’ve been dreaming of a high-rise condo…or a beach-front cottage on the Gulf. Both remain fantasies of undeserved attention.

For facing the realities of today, I seek refuge in the obituaries. Yup, there is where you read about the “real world”.

Yesterday’s paper included a story about John Joseph Houghtaling. Know him? He died at 92. He had a home in Ft. Pierce, Florida. I’ve been there, and never knew anything about him. Damn it. I wish I had met him. He had a genuine claim to fame…as a successful inventor.

J.J. (I’ll call him that) was the guy who invented the “Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed”. It gave you fifteen minutes of “tingling relaxation and ease” – for only a quarter. Do you remember them? Those beds became a pop-culture icon in the 60s and 70s. You went to a motel, popped in a quarter and got instant relief. Today, that same feeling cost twenty bucks under a dark lamppost in some cities. But it may take less time. That’s just my guess!

Regardless, I’m glad I discovered the late tribute to the late J.J. and I’m sure his family is duly proud of him. I certainly am. You seldom read such accolades praising the little guy – the actual inventor. But better late than never.

It’s the little people (like J.J.) who stumble upon our simple pleasures of life. I’m glad to hear he retired while enjoying success. Even then, he continued inventing other coin operated stuff – like weight scales and pulse checking devices. I hope to be just like him…never giving up.

My opinion is…. I’ll probably never find that high-rise condo, or the beach cottage. Regarding other reading habits…Sport news seems stuck on salaries. And forget those front page headlines….that crap happens regardless of me.

But, I’ll keep my eye on the obits. I love to read about people who make a mark on the world (even if the news is late). You know, it still bothers me that John Joseph Houghtaling didn’t get to hear me sing his praise. He still deserves it. Thanks, J.J.!

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