Thursday, November 15, 2007

Grandma's Cures

When we were growing up my Grandma Fisher was in charge of most of our medical care. She nursed my sisters and I through everything from thorn wounds to measles and chickenpox and we survived it all, although that old saying, "What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger", comes to mind when I think of some of her cures.
Black Salve was one of the "cures" in the old, white-painted cabinet that hung on the wall of her kitchen. She brought it out when we had splinters or thorns that needed it's "drawing" power to bring the object to the surface so that she could do surgery with her sewing needle. I remember chasing the cows one day while I was barefooted, after being warned to put my shoes on before heading down to the pasture, and I stepped on a thorn that drove itself deep into my heel. It took weeks of black salve applications to get that old thorn out but it finally festered up one day and Grandma's skills with that needle extracted it.
Father John's was another of her "cures for what ails ya" and if we ever came down with a sniffle, she'd dose us up with a tablespoon of it. She used Grove's Chill Tonic (we called it Grover's) to keep us from getting colds and to build up our blood in the Spring after a hard Winter. There was much protest when she brought out those two bottles and I can even remember trying to run and hide to avoid having to swallow that nasty stuff, but she'd just wait patiently cause she knew I'd come out of hiding around meal time.
If you needed a laxative she had a bottle of Black Draught and if that didn't work you, pronto, she had an old stand-by, Castor Oil. As bad as the Black Draught tasted, you always prayed it would work cause the Castor Oil was a hundred times worse!
A little, blue, jar of Vick's Salve (actually Vick's vapor rub) was also a resident of her medicine cabinet. She'd rub it on our chests if we had a cough, rub it under our noses if we were sniffling, and put a glob of it in our mouths if we had what she thought was the croup. One of the main ingredients of Vick's is camphor and I've heard tell, since I've been grown, that it's a poison if it is ingested because it causes the death of liver cells. I guess it's a wonder that we're still alive, cause I know for a fact that, as a kid, I probably ingested what amounts to 2 or 3 jars of that stuff.

A little bottle of turpentine was in that cabinet too. In the Spring we'd get a drop of turpentine on a teaspoon of sugar to make sure we didn't have any worms. Sugar does not disguise the taste of turpentine and it tastes pretty much the same way it smells. She also used turpentine as a disinfectant, when I buried her butcher knife up to the bone in my hand between thumb and pointer when I was trying to punch holes in a jar lid for the frogs we'd caught, she poured turpentine in and on the wound and tied a bleached dish towel around it. I've got a scar from it, but the hand still works fine.

I suppose we were lucky that her medical skills graduated to a use of more modern pharmaceutical supplies by the time we were born cause I've heard stories of how she'd used kerosene (she called it coal oil) to disinfect and cure stuff like cuts and snake bite when she was younger.


Karen H. said...

Good Afternoon Brenda,
Hey, Thanks for stopping by. I always like to meet new blogging friends, especially a fellow Arkansan. Where bouts in AR are you located if you don't mind me asking? I am in the Northeast Corner, a town called Caraway, it's about 29 miles southeast of Jonesboro. I think we are halfway between Jonesboro and Blytheville. Wow, your Grandma sure had the cures for things back then huh? I remember the Castor Oil and Vick's Salve, but I don't guess I remember the others. I remember hot totties. I was sick with the flu once and my mom made me a hot totty and put me under about 100 quilts. LOL. But hey, it worked. With all these recalls here lately, we may have to go back using all those remedies from back then. Well I appreciate you stopping by. I'm curious as how you found me tho? Take care my friend and have a great Thursday. May God Bless You.

Karen H.

P.S. If ya don't mind, I'm going to add you to my blogroll.

Sally said...

I sure remember some of those especially the black salve that was used on my oldest brother to draw out boils. And, the vicks - YUK, but it helped a lot. A great Ms. Brenda!

Sally said...

POST - great POST. :)

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the cough med. that Grandpaw Fisher had under the matterss. You could have left out the Castor Oil. Grandmaw had to diquise mine in orange juice and it took me years to drink oj when I grew up. yuck.....

bermudabluez said...

Grandmas cures were probably alot healthier than the ones we have today! Although, the turpentine one made me a bit sick! I too ingested a couple of jars of Vicks!! LOL

AndiePandie said...

Oh vicks was a huge staple in my house growing up. If you had a cold, you got vicks rubbed on your chest with a bandanna tied around your neck and the vaporizer put on. One of the many things my grandma had in the house was bag balm. Cured any cuts or scrapes or cracked dry hands.

Donna said...

Gads...LOL Funny....

The People History said...

My mums were caster oil, vicks, and things with iron in them hearts, kidney and liver took me years to get over my hate of them and at least be willing to try liver and onions which now i quite like


jerri said...

lol grandma jean has talked about using "coal oil" before and castor oil as well...

cassie-b said...

Black Salve and Vick's were my mother's two favorites. And as you got well, toast and tea, and gingerale (which I don't like) made you strong and healthy.

Anonymous said...

Turpentine is infact a very good disinfectant, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial agent. If you look at the ingredients in Vicks Vapo-rub, Cloverine Salve, Rawleigh's Antiseptic Salve, SMITH'S ROSEBUD SALVE, Black & White Salve, they all contain Turpentine. I too remember eating Vicks as a kid. Turpentine is also infact a poison, if you ingest enough of it.

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Does anyone know when they stopped putting Vick's salve in a glass jar? And when and why did they stop making Vicks-Va-Tranol.

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