Rupert Howell Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rupert Howell

Handy hanky could thwart flu

Manners would help with this swine flu outbreak.

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Yeah, manners.

I was taught not only to cover my mouth when I sneezed, but to put something between my hand and my sneezing apparatus–like a hanky or tissue.

A handkerchief was part of the uniform–at least with a man. I didn’t mind wearing a bandana while I rode Red Rocky and watched Roy Rogers on TV during my hobby horse years. But I wasn’t about to blow my nose in it. I couldn’t make myself blow my nose on those little lacy type kerchiefs that women carried in their purses.

My generation was later led to believe that tissue was better than a hanky because it was disposable. That way the germs either got flushed or discarded with the trash instead of stuffed into a pocket or purse after you sneezed or blew.

That’s before it became popular to recycle.

Anyway, I learned the importance of a handkerchief while staying over at a friend’s house during high school years.

“Miss Kathleen” Haire not only made sure her six sons left for school with clean, pressed clothes, they also had a clean, pressed handkerchief in their back pocket and didn’t leave the house until she was sure they did. Her daughter Polly could take care of herself and probably helped make sure her brothers were attired properly.

I later learned that carrying a handkerchief or bandanna had multiple advantages other than something to sneeze in.

Having a clean hanky when somebody needs to cry helps you do something in situations where you can usually do or say nothing to help the situation.

“I’m sorry,” you say. “Here’s a hanky. It’s clean,” you can add.

Then there are situations where you may need a tourniquet. Say maybe you cut yourself or get a snakebite or something.

What about sitting in the sun and the brim of your hat won’t cover all your extremes such as ears or neck? Tuck your hanky under your hat and let it drape over your exposed parts.

I must  admit that it’s quite a challenge  get a handkerchief out of the back pocket and positioned properly before a quick sneeze gets out, but it’s part of the game and as long as you have it, you can clean up afterward.

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control need to take heed to Miss Kathleen’s notion and pass out clean, pressed handkerchiefs to all potential swine flu victims.

The planet would be healthier.