Sunday, July 17, 2011


Bob and Donna Parker sent me their cure for hiccups which made me laugh. Most are kind of silly and fun, and they work. Here is what the Parkers recommend:

Fold your hands as if in prayer interlocking the finger’s except for the index ones. Concentrating on getting the index fingers as close together without touching and before you know it you no longer have the hiccups

 It kind of put me in mind of those old childhood remedies we'd like to forget. Most of these come from Reminisce Magazine.  Pat Cook from Colorado Springs  explained how her husband's mother would fry up chopped onions, wrap them in cloth and place them inside of his pajama top on his chest to take away his congestion. The smell would cling and the kids at school would give him funny looks and stay away from him.

And from Bay City, Michigan, dipping a hot poker in the fire then sticking it into  a glass of wine for the kids to drink  prevented colds. The taste?  Horrible.

Hair loss was cured by nightly treatments  of heated castor oil and olive oil massaged into the scalp in Carencro, LA. The hapless one wrapped her head in a towel so not to stain the pillow case

Taking cod liver oil as a preventive cure for childhood illnesses was a horror from my own past. The teachers at our school gave you a spoon full of the stuff everyday. It made you gag to swallow it. Then you were rewarded with a piece of hard candy. The teacher hated the ritual almost as much as we kids.My mother-in-law treated sunburn and poison oak with kerosene. Surprisingly, it didn't burn when applied.

John Thurston remembers enduring German Liniment, "a bottled, foul-smelling ooze," poured over pulled muscles or into the mouth of a sore-throated child with a liberal dollop of butter. Did it work?  "I surely stopped complaining!" says John. He also remembers a poultice for slivers made from sodden bread and milk fastened over the splinter to encourage it to back out. Other poultices for a thorn or sliver were made from a slice of greasy salt pork.

Mustard packs could burn the hide right off your chest, but they also cured pneumonia, according to Lorraine Wicks. In later years, chest congestion was treated with Musterole, the same thing in a big green jar. The smell was awful but it worked. I could always go to school the next day.

Runny noses, stomachache, and colds were treated with Simmons Liver Medicine which looked like black pepper and tasted as bitter as quinine. Violet Dickerson of El Paso says she could get hers down but her sister would always immediately go to the bathroom and spit it out.

Cough drops were horehound candies. Its a sin to call them candy because we hated the taste even though they were sweetened. And, if that didn't work, a shot of straight gin burned all the way down to your stomach. Bill Atkinson.

"My Italian  friends at school would come with a bag of garlic around their necks," says Elizabeth Rainy of Vallecito, CA. "It may not have worked to ward off colds, but it kept the rest of the kids from getting near them and they didn't catch colds from anyone else."

Herbert Orr remembers being given a spoon of sugar with kerosene to help his breathing  and sulfur mixed with molasses in the spring to purify his blood.

A cut potato wrapped over a wart and the other half placed under a rock for 12 hours caused the wart to fall off, according to Jean Schaus of Indiana. When the rock was moved for landscaping, the wart returned.

But the horror of all times goes to Charles Wagoner's father. His dad rendered the fat of several skunks and placed the grease in a covered bucket. When any of the kids had a sore throat, he smeared it on their necks and tied a cotton flannel cloth around it. Charles is 96.  He survived the treatment.



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