How my Dad's legacy fuels my mission to fight cancer and keep people laughing.
In Pinkham Notch, a moose infested stretch of road sitting in the shadow of Mt. Washington, the term redneck isn't an insult. I cut my teeth in the "notch" so I grew up knowing a redneck would put food on your table come hell or high water. A redneck would keep your house warm, walk shoveled, and a smile on your face.
My father was a redneck and he wouldn't have had it any other way. Despite the fact he carried a 5'4" frame, and some of his friends called him "Little Artie", he cast a tall shadow across the landscape in Jackson, NH where he served as the town's Road Agent for two-decades.
His shadow also colors the landscape of Winnipesaukee Whisker Oil Co. It shapes the stoic, no nonsense, irreverent approach to products, and it drives my philosophy. It is the reason why every bottle, every product, every ingredient will always be 100 % natural. It is the reason why you'll never buy a product from the ol' Whisker Oil Co. jammed to the gills with cancer causing carcinogens.
The same kind of carcinogens that took his life at 53 years old. The official cause of death was pancreatic cancer, but cancer's little soldiers are all the microscopic chemicals and carcinogens we willingly put in our body every day.
The most common question I get asked is, "What the hell is Whisker Oil?".
The second question I get is about regulations, the FDA, etc. The truth is, the lack of oversight is stunning. It's the reason Madison Avenue can fill stores on Main St. with one toxin after another. And you can bet your ass, that with all the money in the till, changes won't be coming soon. Little ol' Whisker Oil companies don't have lobbyists on the payroll. So rather than pay lobbyists, my mission is to "nix the 126". It's the reason I get excited when I find a new natural ingredient. It brings me one step closer to getting the number of chemicals we put in our body, every day, down to zero.
If nixing the 126 is about the commitment to battling the dark side, then fun and games in promotion is about light side of Dad's legacy. So let's have a few laughs, some fun and take a look at the colorful life of my father, Arthur Fernald.
My dad loved fly fishing (which often included evading "That goddamn fish cop"), making maple syrup, Budweiser, and most importantly, spending time with family and friends.
He was born and raised in Jackson, in the 1950's. From an early age he was more interested in hunting and chasing girls than in school. We all had a good laugh when he showed us his first grade report card and the teacher's comments, "If Arthur doesn't turn it around soon, all will be lost!"
Fortunately all wasn't lost, but the fact he was named "Class Sleepy Head" his Senior year in high school, tells you all you need to know.
It wasn't many years after, that he began plowing snow for the town, a job that would lead to him becoming the Road Agent. It was a decent job that kept food on our table. It also afforded him time to pursue one of his great passions each spring, maple sugaring. One old-timer in town once went on the record saying, "That man could make maple syrup on a grass fire". In fact, he was talented enough that the Kennedy's and Jackie Onassis made sure they got their fix each year. I don't think it was too long after "Jackie O" bought her first bottle of syrup that some of the locals started calling him "The Sugar King"!
To this day, my college buddies talk about Dad drinking them under the table, teaching them to ice fish, or putting them to work with a splitting maul. No gathering of old friends is complete without someone telling the story of Dad walking out into the living room in his "tighty whities" to give us hell, late one drunken night.
While many of the details are lost in the Guinness fog of that night, it had something to do with one of my guys upsetting Dad's prized beagle "Stubby". Hearing the baying hound, and coming to the Stub's aid, Dad stood in the living room, in all his fruit-of-the-loomed splendor and proclaimed, "Think it's bout time you boys called it a night"!
I'd like to think Dad would have been a whisker oil guy. Beard oil? No goddamn way. Whisker oil? Hell yeah!
The whisker oil, would have had a place in his backpack as he loaded his rusted out truck and headed "Up North" to Timmy's Camp for a weekend of rabbit hunting and drinking. And while he would hate to admit it, he would have loved the knob polish as well. You'd be hard pressed to find a picture of Dad without a hat on, because he was as bald as they come. He tried to hide it, but he could have really used some of"The Bald Knob".
So while Dad would have cringed if he was ever called a Lumbersexual or a Hipster instead of a Redneck, his fingerprints are on every product I design. A rugged product, with kick-ass performance that isn't full of cancer causing agents.