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February 1, 1946

Traffic in the Science Lab these days of atomic energy and radar, calls that the moon is heavier than ever before in history. In fact there’s more traffic in this area than on the corner of State and Madison in Chicago.

Now here’s an item . . . still hot with the charged current that sent it through the wires. This may change the course of your life! It concerns a plant which grows in North Carolina that makes a food which feeds the intellect! What you do is take the dry leaves and make tea from them and a few swigs and you’ve pushed up the hooper rating on your intelligence. Just like that. The fact that the leaves are used for brewing tea makes it sound like an old wives’ tale and ordinarily the column would give it a polite mutter just because it made the news wire and let it go at that. But this item has the ring of authority.

United Press quotes the North Carolina Department of Conservation, which make it as authoritative as anything. And . . . if that doesn’t convince you . . . the real botanical name of the plant is given, too, It’s Centella Asiatica. When you give a thing a Latin name that settles it! It’s above dispute. It’s like saying . . . “Verily” or “Hath not” . . . or “Wouldst thou”. . . There’s something about the dignity of archaic language and scientific names in Latin that gives a thing standing. So I don’t question the fact that the leaves of Centella Asiatica when properly brewed will act as a stimulus to the intelligence. In fact it explains to me why most of the people I’ve ever met from North Carolina are singularly intelligent. The news story says that according to Professor B. W. Wells, author of “The Natural Gardens of North Carolina,” this plant is an insignificant little herb with a leaf like a swollen thumb nail. That doesn’t make it sound appetizing. But then it doesn’t have to be appetizing if it makes you smart. And I can’t understand why he calls it insignificant. It’s about as significant as it can be. The plant is a member of the carrot family and is related to the marsh penny-worts. Just goes to show you how it’s possible to rise above humble relatives in this land of opportunity! And as if to prove that it really works, Professor Wells says that he recently had a request for some of that Centrella Asiatica from a woman novelist in Los Angeles who wrote that her supply from India had run out! . . . Right in the middle of her latest book and she can’t go on without her four-o’clock-bracer of intelligence!

That, to me, proves nothing. I have read one or two books written by women novelists, not to mention novelists who work in Los Angeles . . . and I will agree that their efforts require energy. Yes. Industry, certainly . . . ability to spell, maybe . . . but . . . intelligence? Why?

However, all those Latin words and the name of an honest-to-goodness professor lead me to suspect that there may be something to it. And if this thing becomes popular, I can see the patent medicine bottlers cutting corks right now. This will be bigger than vitamins! The fountain of youth had its fad several cen¬turies ago . . . now soaps make you odorless and face creams get you engaged and vitamins make you vigorous . . . And now to top it all . . . Centrella Asiatica makes you intelligent! I can see the advertisers sharpening their pencils. The copy will run about like this: have you tested your IQ lately? . . . Do people talk about you behind your back because you are not able to discuss intelligently the radioactivity incident to neutronic isotopes? . . . Take a teaspoonful of Centrella Asiatica before meals and stump the experts! Be the wit of the party! Shake well before using! Caution! Use only as directed or you’ll get so smart people will hate you! Improve your bridge game! Make inventions! Write books! Get a husband! Get a life! Get a divorce! Buy the economical large size bottle! IT’S THRIFTY TO BE SMART . . . Okay, you take it from there . . .