Random Thoughts

Home remedies that we remember

... sitting around the table at the last Stringer's meeting

by Betty Rossi

While we were sitting around the table at the last Stringer's meeting, we started
talking about remedies that we remembered from our childhood and past. We will
all be adding to "the list". Here goes....

I remember when I was sick as a child, my mother would squash an aspirin tablet
into a spoonful of grape jelly and give it to us. (I did not eat grape jelly for
forty years!)

We had Vick's Vaporub rubbed onto our backs and chests if we had a bad cold or
bronchitis. I remember a black, electric tube-like contraption that blew hot steam
like Old Faithful out of its top with the Vick's inside of it. Every time it would
go "Swish. Swish", it would release some of the steam. The noise was worse than the

If we fell or had a headache, out would come the ice cubes. They would be placed
into a contraption that looked like a shower cap with a stopper on top, and then
placed on the spot that hurt.

If you got a burn from touching something that they told you was hot and you didn't
listen, on would go the butter. Little did they know that it was "frying your skin".

Iodine and tweezers sterilized by lighting a match, were used to remove splinters.

The dreaded Castor Oil. Every morning before school, as you were walking out the
door, you had to have your spoonful.  By 9:30 in the morning, you were still
tasting that vile stuff. (I should have placed this as my #1 ugh memory!)

Prunes and prune juice. Still have the same purpose and you know what THAT is.

If you had a sore throat, you could have Cherry Jello or a Popsicle if you were

I asked my friend Helen Buckley if she remembered any remedies from her past
and she remembered ....

When she burned her hands on the family's wood-burning stove, she had cooled,cooked
oatmeal placed on the burns and her hands were wrapped and tied into a burlap type
bandage for weeks.

Warm water and salt was used for a sore throat.  Baking soda and salt was used as

Carter's Little Liver Pills were used for tired blood.

Geritol was used for lack of iron in the blood.

There were no thermometers. The back of your mother's hand on your forehead told if
you had a fever or not.

Cornstarch was used for sunburns and rashes.

While we were laughing about our remedies, Joanne Norcross, who overheard us stated
that her Dad grew up on a farm and that they used to use a goose grease plaster
placed on your chest to draw out congestion.

She said that they used Hydrogen Peroxide on open cuts. It was also used to put
highlights in your hair.

They also used Mercurochrome for open cuts.

Growing up, if she had a sunburn, they would soak rags in cooled, boiled tea bags
and lay them onto the burned skin.

Dear friend Carol McCormack remembered that her mother would soak cotton balls in
warm olive oil, and place them in her ear for an ear ache.

She remembers Paregoric was used if you had a toothache.

They used Brioski and Alka Seltzer for upset stomachs. It was very bubbly and gassy
and really worked.

From Stringer Joe Sullivan. My mother was a fundamentalist. No matter what your
ailment her remedy was, "You'll feel better tomorrow."

Stringer Joan Alcala remembered the "Hot Toddy", and will gladly share the recipe.

Stringer Don Norris remembered that if he really got sick, milk-of-magnesia was the
cure-all. It was awful. He said that at ten years old, his mother took him to a
doctor's office for a broken arm -- "my first visit there. The doctor set my arm
and put a plaster cast on it, right there in his office. Doctors made house calls
in those days --- but I can't remember ever seeing one come to our home -- except
for measles. And chicken pox. I think my brother got scarlet fever and had to go
stay in a hospital and they wouldn't let me visit him".

Stringer Ann Talbot added that when the family spent too long at the beach,
the cure for sunburn was Noxzema, with that wonderful aroma and beautiful
blue jar. Second choice, vinegar. My sister got impetigo one summer. The
cure was Mercurochrome, which dyed her blonde hair a violent orange. A favorite
cure-all, especially for drawing splinters, was Wyoma - a salve in a little tin
box created by a local pharmacist. Once our housekeeper threatened to give me
Father John's medicine. It was thick and whitish-brown and smelled awful, with
a portrait of Father John on the label. I said I'd never speak to her again --
and I didn't. A new housekeeper entered the scene.

Rita Quinn-Dietrich said when she would get an earache, her father would heat
up salt in a pan on the stove.  When it was hot, he'd place it between two
hankies and wrap the corners so that it would not spill out and placed
the bundle on her sore ear.  He would then rock her until she would fall asleep.

Monique Hardy said that in France they would use Camomile and fresh herbs to
comfort you when you were sick.

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