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Don't pine for that clean spine

A Medford man says he's invented a device to clean that elusive place on the back hands can't reach

Nathan James of Medford always relied on a hot shower to wash away the grind from a day at the mill or a session in the boxing gym, but he remained frustrated over a dirty back.

Not the whole back. Just that spot between the shoulder blades that James can't reach no matter how hard he squirms.

It's a place you hardly ever wash, says James, 26.

The rest of Medford might reach for a brush. James is reaching for the stars.

James parlayed his years of shower frustration into a new invention that he hopes will cleanse spines across America while funneling some serious cash into his wallet.

It's called the Shower Mate, a gizmo that allows people of all body shapes to wash their backs hands-free while in the shower.

James' logic is simple: If a young, fit guy like himself has trouble with a clean back, then the more flexibly-challenged segments of society likely have the same problem.

Some people are too big, too inflexible or just plain too lazy, James says. So I thought of putting something on the wall. And I started making it.

James' invention is still so early in the developmental stages that he can't publicly reveal it, show any schematics or explain it in detail ' other than it's something like a cat-scratching post.

James has hired Invention Technologies Inc., a Florida-based firm, to market the Shower Mate to potential manufacturers, especially those in the bath products industry. The company has advised him to remain mum on specifics so no one steals his idea in the meantime.

Mario Perez, an Invention Technologies client-relations representative, says his company will apply for a patent on the Shower Mate after a manufacturer licenses the product and any final design tinkering is completed.

Perez won't say how much James has paid for his company's services to date, nor would he reveal how many other inventors his company represents or what percentage of those are successful.

We expect the best, of course, Perez says. But it always depends upon the manufacturers. It's a gamble. It might not be the right time.

James, who worked on his invention since December 2001, hopes it is the right time. He has a wife, a 3-year-old son and a new home, and he could use new income to augment, or replace, his job building wooden columns.

If I could get a manufacturer interested, this thing would be great, James says. Of course, there's nothing free in life. But I have faith. This thing could help a lot of people.

Nathan James of Medford says he has invented a device that will help people wash their backs -- especially that hard-to-reach spot along the spine. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven