Does Snoring Threaten Your Marriage? Try Robert Crossley's Collar on for Size

updated 02/25/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/25/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

Robert Crossley of Austin, Texas is marketing a dream of a device, a collar to stop snoring. "If this doesn't help," one customer wrote, "I'm going to try decapitation." Another, a convict at Leavenworth, explained that snoring can be a matter of life and death in prison. The sleeper's blanket may be soaked with lighter fluid and ignited if his wheezing annoys cellmates. A salesman ordered a Crossley collar because his wife of 14 years was leaving him. "She has given me two weeks to stop snoring," he said, "or she is filing for divorce."

"Snoring can be pretty funny—unless you are the one with the problem," says Crossley, who cites AMA statistics that one in eight Americans snores. As for himself, the inventor admits: "I used to shake the walls." So the 68-year-old retired engineer looked for a remedy among the 300 devices which have been patented for snorers. They include a head harness with a chin strap to clamp the mouth shut and a frightening pronged design that fits into the mouth and holds down the tongue.

Crossley thought up a better idea. He was inspired by a newspaper account of a girl with severe hiccups who was cured after receiving slight shocks from a sound-activated device. The "Snore Suppressor," as he calls his three-and-a-half-ounce plastic collar, works on the same principle. Equipped with electrodes and a microphone, it jolts the large muscles on each side of the sleeper's neck when he sounds off. It is not a pain in the neck but mental conditioning that, in the end, cures the snorer. Within three weeks the collar wearer should be slumbering silently. Thereafter, Crossley suggests using the device just one week each year to reinforce the conditioning.

Crossley claims that he sold 127 Suppressors (at $69.95 apiece) last year, and only 12 people took him up on his money-back guarantee. The device works best on the worst cases. "Give me a guy who snores every time he shuts his eyes and I'll fix him right up," Crossley assures.

The mother of his invention was wife Ruth, whom he married 42 years ago. He explains, "I'd wake up in the morning and she would be sleeping at the other end of the house as far from me as she could get, with every door between us tightly shut." In 1968 Crossley began his experimentation. At the time he was a civilian engineer designing tools for the Air Force. Working off and on, it took Crossley four years to fashion his collar, but a heart attack delayed his early marketing attempts. Now recovered, he handcrafts each collar in his 80-foot mobile home, using the oven in the kitchen to bake on the plastic finish. There have been no further complaints from Ruth, and the Crossleys are once again sharing a bed. Shhh.

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