Maungaturoto will be celebrating 150 Years in 2013

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Tale of Blight and Bunkum with a good dose of Snake oil thrown in

“Bouncing Bowers was very modest about the stuff; he only named £4 a gallon as the price, but Hardie was badly bitten with Bowers’ bounce and anted up like a brick.”

Whakapirau settler Henry Bowers in 1906, had tried his luck at playing the role of a snake oil merchant to unsuspecting fruit growers, with his so called ‘cure’ for blight and codlin moth. The ruse didn’t last long it seems for one of his customers soon found out Mr Bower’s so called cure didn’t do a thing for his fruit trees and thus the police were soon called.

Bowers Blight and Bunkum

NZ Truth 13 October 1906

If all that is alleged is true anent Mr Henry Alfred Bowers and his blight specific, he seems have been having a rorty time lately. According to Police Court accounts Henry Alfred,
having read somewhere that fruit farmers were having terrible trouble with insects and fungi, waded in to provide a remedy and apparently found a lovely liquid warranted to act as a
double strength insecticide and fungicide and guaranteed to kill blight at a thousand yards.

Forthwith, Henry Alfred toddled forth seeking whom he might devour. He came across one Hardie, who grows apples and other luscious morsels at Wade, and breathed his yarn about his discovery into Hardie’s credulous lug. Hardie took it all in, too, including five gallons of the guaranteed safe cure for codlin moth.

Bouncing Bowers was very modest about the stuff; he only named £4 a gallon as the price, but Hardie was badly bitten with Bowers’ bounce and anted up like a brick. Bowers bounded off and Hardie started to kill codlin moths and other worried attached to his profession but there was some antidote, which he had warranted to work wonders for the next three years, would not work at all.

Then Hardie seems to have woke up, for the next thing that happened he was sooling a bobby on Bower’s track. Another of Bowers’ soft things was Ernest William Barker. This cove said that Bowers the blighter told him and his father such tall tales anent his astonishing discovery that they were induced to try £2 10s worth of the stuff. Their hopes of a simple life ever after likewise blighted.

Government Analyst Pond never winked once when in the witness box, and he swore that the stuff Bowers charged £4 per gallon might be worth twopence for eight Imperial pints. It was certainly not worth more.

It next came out that Bowers is a settler at Whakapirau and didn’t use his beautiful blight bumper on his own trees; but simply painted them with castor oil. His lawyer tried to make out that the strength of the stuff was lost by keeping the cork out of the cans; but that tale will have been be repeated at the Supreme Court, whither Bowers was committed. There are four other similar charges pending but they were held over till next Monday.

Foot note: Bowers was later sentenced to 18 months in prison at the Supreme Court in Auckland on December 5 1906.