.Generations of mothers painted their children's rashes and mosquito bites with calamine lotion. Its color matched your skin only if you had the complexion of a pink plaster flamingo, and it dried into an unattractive chalky powder.
.Now, the Los Angeles Times reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ruled that the lotion's main components - a mixture of zinc oxide and ferric oxide - are useless for relieving pain and itching.
."What about all those years that we perpetuated the big lie of childhood with our own kids," the newspaper lamented, "smearing calamine all over them when they came home with a rash from poison oak or some other creepy-crawly condition?"
.An FDA spokeswoman said flatly, "It's never been shown to be effective." But at least one manufacturer is carrying on, having added an unspecified ingredient with analgesic properties. But the FDA predicted that calamine lotion will eventually become the dinosaur of dermatology. - Short Takes Americans are drinking stronger coffee after generations of swallowing weak and watery brews that Florence Fabricant of The New York Times calls "90-cups-to-the-pound weaklings." The European tradition of espresso bars is taking hold in the United States. Specialty coffees - dark-roasted for strength and more expensive than supermarket brands - now account for 20 percent of all coffee sold for home use and are expected to reach 50 percent in 10 to 15 years. - What if they gave an election and nobody voted? It happened in Dutton, Alabama, population 300. Not only that, nobody even ran. The deadline for filing nominations for mayor and the five-member town council came and went without any applicants; the Aug. 25 election day also passed unnoticed. Alabama law provides a remedy: in the absence of candidates, the governor appoints new officeholders, and there have been plenty of applicants since the town's collective absent-mindedness attracted media attention from all over the country. - A year after Pan American World Airways went into bankruptcy and moved to Florida, its namesake tower on Park Avenue is getting a new logo. "Couldn't they just leave the sign up and take the building down?" asked Robert A.M. Stern, an architect. He and many other New Yorkers have long objected that the Pan Am tower, erected in 1963, blocks the vistas up and down Park Avenue. The 15-foot (4.5-meter) letters near the top that spell out "Pan Am" will give way to an equally large sign that says "Met Life." The Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. has owned the 58-story building since 1981. The skyscraper is not being renamed the Met Life Building, at least not officially, since the insurance firm already has its headquarters in the Met Life Tower farther downtown. A spokesman said, "I think New Yorkers will ultimately make up their own minds as to what they call the building." - Over protests and a lawsuit, Glassboro State College in New Jersey has renamed itself Rowan College as a tribute to Henry Rowan, 68, an industrialist, and his wife, Betty. In July Mr. Rowan announced a $100 million gift to the college, the largest ever given to an American public college or university and second only to the $105 million given 13 years ago to Emory University, a private institution in Atlanta. - Candlestick Park, home - at least for now - of baseball's San Francisco Giants, is notorious for wind, fog and frigidity, even in midsummer. Rich Donnelly, a coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates, says, "It's like playing a game on an aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic."