The mystery began with an insomnia-fueled eBay session. Some folks count sheep or read a book to fall asleep. I look for collectibles online. A search for Pasco-related items guided me to a can of Pasco Magic. "New and improved,'' the label said. Money-back guarantee. The perfect cleaner and water softener. No rinsing. No wiping.
Pasco Magic? There's magic in Pasco? Are you kidding me?
I had to have it.
Ten bucks and a few days later, the shrink-wrapped can was all mine. I haven't opened it, but it seems to contain a powdery substance.
So now the can sits on a ledge next to my desk, which is getting crowded. There's a can of Lemon & Paeroa soda that's "world famous in New Zealand." A drink coaster features a map of the Southeast and says, "I'm a Gulf Coaster." A Florida license plate highlights Lee County. There's a Colorado plate from, you guessed it, Logan County.
Pasco Magic fits right in. Even if you don't like cheap trinkets with campy slogans, everyone could use a little magic. Especially these days.
But what is this thing, anyway?
The best clue was the fine print at the bottom of the label: "Packed by Pasco Products Co., Evansville 9, Indiana.''
A representative of the Indiana secretary of state could not find a listing for that company in the state business records. But there was an Evansville grocery wholesaler called Parsons & Scoville — better known as Pasco.
Founded in 1894, the company moved to a state-of-the-art headquarters on Main Street in 1908. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. These days, the old Pasco building is also called the Curtis building. It has office space, a fitness club and a Subway.
Co-founder Byron Parsons has an interesting biography. His home once served as a temporary headquarters for American Red Cross founder Clara Barton. He was a staunch Republican and left the Union Army as a major.
My guess is he probably wouldn't have been drinking buddies with the namesake of our county — Sam Pasco.
Pasco was newly elected to the U.S. Senate in 1887, when legislators split Hernando County into three parts. He was from the north Florida town of Monticello. Pasco was a former sergeant in the Confederate Army and a Democrat back when everyone in Florida was a Democrat. He was president of the 1885 constitutional convention that set up Florida's Cabinet form of government and also instituted a poll tax.
This, of course, has nothing to do with the can I found on eBay.
Pasco Magic, as it says on the can, cleans woodwork, floors, furniture and silverware. Use it on your clothes and your overstuffed furniture. In the bath, it will "make your hair silkier and your skin cleaner." And don't forget your weary feet. Make a Pasco Magic paste and use it to rub off "horny skin" before it forms calluses.
I'm not making this up.
If only a can of Pasco Magic could solve the problems of modern-day Pasco. Sprinkle some magic powder and stubbornly high unemployment, traffic snarls and oxycodone disappear.
All that with a money-back guarantee.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Lee Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.