New Jersey’s Oily Oliver and His Dry Skin

Whenever anyone talks about legends of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, it is always the Jersey Devil, over and over again.  No one mentions my favorite, my hero, Oily Oliver.

Oily was a hermit living deep in the Pine Barrens, and, considering his location and limited social circle, preferred to spend the summers buck naked.  As you would expect, living in southern New Jersey without clothes creates all sorts of skin problems from the sun, heat, mosquitoes, greenhead flies, and the constant stabbing of pine needles.  Oily solved them all by coating himself liberally with old crankcase oil.

Oily was right.  I worked long years for the old Atlas Chemical Company in Wilmington and many of our products were ingredients for the cosmetic industry.  Skin moisturizers do not add moisture at all—they simply give the impression of moisture by coating the skin with anything greasy or oily.  Good old petroleum jelly works just fine, but nobody makes much money selling that, so they add all kinds of colors and fragrances and charge a fortune.  One even claimed to contain pearl dust as the ultimate in luxury, but it was actually ground up mother-of-pearl from the inside of discarded clam shells.  Big deal.  They probably got paid to take them away. The basic ingredient that does the heavy lifting is always some sort of cheap wax or grease.  We even sent potential customers —who we called bucket-and-stick operators because they often worked out of their garages—sample formulations that made heavy use of our products.

I have long used petroleum jelly myself to combat the dry, itching skin from hours in chlorinated pools.  I use this for many lubrications around the house.  Any leftovers I just rub into my skin.

So where did Oily get his old crankcase oil?  Many a family spending a summer day picking wild berries in the Pine Barrens returned to their parked car to find the hood up, a large oily patch under their engine block, and foot prints on the asphalt leading back into the woods.  Oily had struck again.

About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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