Calgon, Take Me Away


If you have ever lived and worked in Erwin, you know the first two weeks in July is summer vacation season. I guess the tradition of summer vacations around the Fourth of July started many years ago in Erwin as I can remember the cotton mill closing the week of the Fourth and the town becoming a literal ghost town for a two-week period.

Well, I can tell you, tradition means something in Erwin, and as I eye the empty streets of downtown I find myself coming to the realization that I need to join my fellow citizens and simply get away.

For whatever reason, this past Sunday evening, while I was alone in the house doing laundry for the upcoming work week and cleaning up after my daughter’s dog, I suddenly found myself thinking of the Calgon bubble-bath lady from the iconic 1970s television commercial as I looked upward at the ceiling and yelled, “Calgon, take me away!”

While I have never found the idea of a hot bubble bath in July as relaxing or appealing, I think we all understand this poor lady simply needs a vacation in the worst way possible.

Luckily with today’s technology, I was able to view a YouTube clip of the old ad in preparation for this column and it was even better than I remembered it in the ’70s.

This poor lady starts off by saying, “The traffic, the boss, the children, the dog — Calgon, take me away.”

Yes, it’s all true. All that can drive you crazy and leave you in dire need of a vacation, but much like the Calgon lady between the traffic, the boss, the children and the dog, it’s hard to find time for a true vacation, and I’m going to need more than a bubble bath in July with a box of Calgon.

I know the ad doesn’t show the Calgon lady downing a bottle of red wine while bathing in the tub but I’m guessing she had a bottle hidden somewhere.

Now that it has been established that I need for Calgon to take me away, the next question will be deciding where and when to escape. As a family, we have talked about vacation for weeks now, but getting everyone to agree on a vacation destination will be tricky.

Most summers we have made at least one beach trip which is only natural for the summer months and is acceptable to me as I can handle the heat much better in the sand then on the asphalt. In other words, absolutely no point in suggesting a summer trip to Disney for me. Also, a long road trip in a hot cramped car is not on my Calgon-approved vacation list.

Another vacation option would be to visit my oldest daughter in the mountains. The humidity levels where she lives are approved by Calgon and the summer evening temperatures can be pleasant.

She also lives near the Cherokee casino which doesn’t hurt the cause according to Calgon. For as much as I miss my daughter and would love to see her, the six- to eight-hour car ride can be tough on the old man in the heat of summer, and maybe a better fall vacation destination.

For all the talk of vacation and my need to be whisked away by Calgon, who knows if Calgon will truly whisk me away. For as much as I can sympathize with the Calgon lady, it’s been years since I have allowed myself and my family a full-length vacation. Despite my love for the whole vacation idea, vacations can be expensive and Calgon does not approve of me spending a great deal of money. If for some reason if I miss the vacation boat this year, I certainly hope the Calgon lady gets a vacation. Between the traffic, the boss, the kids and the dog, she certainly deserves one.

Mr. Parker lives in Erwin. Contact

him at


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