Writins of Weakeyes Cody
Talented and witty writings
Axel Grease @2007
I am fairly certain that few of my fellow Muleskinners have ever come into physical contact with axel grease or even know about it. No, I am not referring to the current petroleum base grease for boat trailer bearings or load bearing lubrication for modern bearings, but rather the more basic lubrication born straight from the bowels of mother earth with little more refining than maybe heating it to form an even viscosity.
I, by geographical chance, and a place in time, happened to have experience with actually greasing an axle. And again, not to be confused with lubricating modern ball or roller bearings, placing them in the race of a wheel and calling it done, but by removing a wheel from the axle and greasing the axle by dipping hands into this epitome of black and smearing it liberally onto the iron cylinder and inside the corresponding wheel hub of a wagon. Yes! The kind that crossed the wide American prairie and was used for another hundred years thereafter to grease the wheels of progress as well as to cover every inch of a twelve year old boy if he was permitted to play or work with it.
Why am I so caught up with your enlightenment of this prehistoric product? Well, for one thing it had multiple uses. I recall once I was stricken with a mysterious swelling behind the ear, in a time when Doctors were consulted only if a part of our anatomy was threatened by loss. The old Doc placed his hand atop my head and tilted it around just so, and proceeded to take from his cabinet a can of something and dipping a paddle in it placed a small amount of it in a snuff can. “Put this on the swelling for two or three days.” Was his direction to my mother. That evening mama smeared that evil concoction behind my ear and I know without doubt it was axle grease. She wrapped my ear and head in a rag knowing what it could do to her sheets, and I slept with that mushy goo. Well, it went away in a couple of days and I wasn’t faced with going to school with it there. Lucky me.
But dear hearts, I know it was smeared on severe cuts to keep down infection, on both man & animal as well as to cause things to slide on surfaces. It was great. Even though it did warp my rather loosely attached comprehension of the law of physics. Remember that movie called “The Blob!” Well, while people ran screaming through the streets as a slow moving glob of protoplasm absorbed everything in its path, I recognized it right away. It was simply axle grease. There’s really a lot of things you come to miss if you live long enough. But I’m not ready to place any sentimental attachment to Axle grease. Still, I wonder where it went?
~ Weakeyes Cody