Throwback Thursday #28 – Childhood Cures

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday. Lauren is back with another excellent topic that takes us back to childhood. Head over to her blog to get the details, and then join in!

This week’s prompt is: Ouches, Owies, and Boo Boo’s

My post follows.

Childhood bumps and bruises were commonplace growing up in the country and it was no wonder. We ran around barefoot for a good part of the summer or wore the same pair of Keds until fall rolled around and it was time to go back to school. It wasn’t a good summer unless you stepped on a rusty nail or two. Thoughts are rolling around in my head and I am thinking some of this might be too much if you are at all queasy. So fair warning.

Scrapes and scratches were always commonplace. We waded in the creeks and stepped on rocks or broken glass. We fell riding bikes and got gravel embedded under the skin. Splinters we’re also a fairly common occurrence. For those things, Mercurochrome or Merthiolate were the common cures. Both are now banned in the US and other countries because they contain toxic levels of mercury – just like our thermometers (I still use a mercury thermometer). How did we ever survive?  I remember their little glass wands and the bright orange stains they left behind. If the injury was pretty severe, then alcohol or iodine would be employed. Often it was the case of the cure being worse than the injury.

I was plagued with earaches for a short time. Egaads the home remedies. First, my parents were both smokers and I distinctly remember them blowing cigarette smoke into my ear (google it – it was a thing). It does nothing to help an earache or ear infection, however, ironically we know now that secondhand smoke can cause ear infections. If the cigarette smoke did not work, then I would get warm drops of ‘blue oil’ or ‘sweet oil’ in my ear followed by a cotton ball.

I was also blessed with frequent nosebleeds for a time. The treatment for that was a folded piece of a brown paper bag, folded and moistened and placed under the top lip. I can still remember the taste of the paper and the weird feeling of something tucked under my top lip. I cannot tell you if it helped or not.

Paregoric was the go-to remedy for a toothache. Also now only sold with a prescription from a doctor, it is an opioid – tincture of opium. At the time it was sold over the counter. I remember the smell and the taste very well. Many babies had this substance rubbed on their gums when teething. I do also remember cloves being used for a toothache.

Now we get into some of the queasy parts.

We learned early on to never tell our grandmother our stomach hurt. She was a nurse and at the time, everything seemed to be related to being ‘regular’. A stomach ache seemed to signal the troops that an enema was required. How much is too much to tell? Well, suffice it to say it meant soapy water and lying face down on the bed for what was one of the most embarrassing moments of my young life. One of my dear friend’s husbands had a similar grandmother and we used to laugh over those ridiculous stories of our childhood torment!

Having a boil was also not a pleasant condition. Although they did not occur frequently, they were not uncommon, especially for kids. And they were most commonly found on the buttocks. Ugh. We had a medicine specifically designed to treat boils – Ichthymmol. It is a black tar-like substance derived from shale oil. And it stinks. The purpose is to draw the boil to a head so it will drain. See, I told you. Gross.

There were small round tins of salves, awful cough drops, and bottles of linament in the cabinets. Noxzema and Vicks Vapor Rub we’re always on hand. All designed to cure some ailment. I had distinct memories of applying Absorbine Junior to my grandmother’s back and feet.

As I got older I had less bumps and bruises. I did often have cramps when I matured. My parents were both a fan of a shot of whiskey for cramps, but I was not interested in the taste so I suffered – but not in silence! 😂

My children had it easy. They had Bactine and hydrogen peroxide or Neosporin for minor cuts and bruises topped with a fun band-aid. Everything else was generally a visit to the doctor.