To the Editor:
I really enjoyed Roy Crawford’s excellent article on the statistics behind the team rankings in the NCAA tournament.
Also, I was surprised and interested to see the old 1926 article about wood alcohol and its consumption by young people. My father, Dr. B. F. Wright, was a physician in Letcher County at this time and he had a number of patients, both old and young, who had consumed wood alcohol. This was a major problem at the time. The toxic affects of wood alcohol included those mentioned: death and blindness, as well as others. Parts of the motor-nerve system could also be damaged, leaving the victims with permanently quivering legs so severe that for the rest of their lives they had to use a crutch in order to walk. This was referred to as “Jake Leg.” A form of what might be referred to now as dementia was also often the result, and the person was said to be “not right in the head.” These conditions were permanent and not curable.
The mid-1920s were in the midst of the Prohibition and, at times, the local supply of drinkable alcohol was low. This caused some young people to look elsewhere for another source of intoxication. The same thing happened for some of the older, severe, indigent alcoholics. The fact that during Prohibition drinkable alcohol used by businesses and hospitals for other purposes than human consumption was intentionally poisoned by the addition of wood alcohol led to a large number of poisonings nationally. Some people would attempt to get rid of the wood alcohol in the mixture by passing the mixture through a loaf of bread. It’s not clear if this worked or not. The wood alcohol may have evaporated more quickly than the consumable alcohol, thus reducing the concentration of the wood alcohol.
Recently, a new fad among some young people has taken the lives of several victims. This new concoction contains race car fuel, which is nothing more than wood alcohol. Whoever started this fad or promoted it is guilty of murder. I strongly urge any young person to be careful about consuming any kind of alcoholic drink. Make sure you know exactly what is in the drink before you drink it.
BEN LUNTZ Lexington