Despite the extravagant boasts of this Press Democrat article, Dr. J. J. McKenna and his “man-saver” sanitariums for drunks were apparently non-existent; no mention appears in any digital newspaper archives. All that can be found about him is a passing mention in a 1913 Texas medical magazine, which reveals that after McKenna’s three day “cure,” inebriates were “given enough medicine to last thirty days.” What sobriety “medicine” Doctor J.J. sold is lost in the mists of time. But, hey, at least he peddled enough of the stuff to support the newspapering industry.
(At right: a 1906 Coca-Cola newspaper ad)
THE WATER WAGON MAN IS IN TOWNHAS ESTABLISHED MAN-SAVERS IN ALL THE PRINCIPAL CITIES OF THE COUNTRY
Believes in Printer’s Ink, and Last Year Expended Over $110,000 in Newspaper Publicity Alone
Dr. J. J. McKenna, otherwise known as “the water wagon man,” and the discoverer of the famous “three day” liquor cure which bears his name, is at the St. Rose for a short stay.
Sixteen years ago Dr. McKenna established his first sanitarium in Houston, Texas. Success crowned his efforts there, and not long afterwards he founded the McKenna sanitarium in New York city, then one in Kansas City, another in Chicago, following the latter venture by the establishment of several other institutions in the smaller cities of the middle west.
All were successful to a marked degree, and many patients were attracted from the West. “Why don’t you open a few man-savers in California, Oregon, and Washington?” the Doctor was repeatedly asked, and this is what he finally did. San Francisco and Seattle are now both Meccas for the unfortunate stimulant craver, and it’s probable that still other sanitariums will be established in the West in the near future.
Dr. McKenna is a believer in printer’s ink, and last year spent considerably over $110,000 in newspaper publicity, he says, on one occasion expending $21,000 in one day, when adsd of huge size appeared simultaneously in all the big cities. He has competent men in charge of his various institutions, and keeps in close touch with each; and in his work he finds his estimable wife of especial help, for she relieves him of much of the detail work.– Press Democrat, September 19, 1905