Submitted by: Jim O’Hearn, Jim Hunter, Ruth Coulthard, Edith Eaton, Maria Eybergen, Mike O’Hearn, Willie Sullivan and Jessica MacDonald.
Maria Eybergen recalls the doctor making house calls on his motorcycle in Holland. “I still remember my Doctor making house calls right here in St. Marys back in 1963. If we cut ourselves and it didn’t look too bad we’d just pour iodine on it and wrap it up. If we required stitches we made a trip to the Doctor’s office. Others commented that back in the 40’s the doctor would come to the house and stitch you up…with no sedatives!
Maria has never forgotten their old remedy for a bad cold. Mom would kill one of the barn cats and take the ‘fat’off it. Mom would put the fat into a pot and cook it down to a paste, then rub it on a cloth and make us hold it under our noses. I remember getting a bad cold and calling out to my Dad “can I have some cat-fat!” For a cough I just used to drink some sugar water to sooth my throat. Both Ruth and Mike remember the old mustard plasters. If Mom feared you might get pneumonia she’d use lots of mustard and mix it with flour to make a paste for the mustard plaster. The plaster would be put on your chest and covered with an old piece of flannel cloth and left overnight. Jim O’Hearn remembers simply taking a shot of Rye mixed with hot water just before bed when he got a cold. We never really called a doctor for anything said Jim. Mom would always know just what to do or have some home remedy ready to solve your ailments. The only need for a doctor was to help at the birth of a new baby.
Mike O’Hearn remembers the remedy for a sliver in your hand was to make a “bread-poultice” and put it on overnight. A bread-poultice is simply a piece of bread soaked in milk and wrapped in a cloth. As the milk dries in the cloth it draws the sliver to the surface. Ruth Coulthard also remembers making a paste of flour and water to put on an ingrown toenail to draw out infection. “Mom would use her tweezers to do the rest” said Ruth.
Jim Hunter remembers his father having a bad case of boils. Mom used a mixture of dish soap, sugar and milk to make a paste to put on them. Mike said they just used a bread poultice for boils at his house. Others remember using white adhesive tape heated over a stove element and put on top of the boil to draw it to a head. Jim Hunter also said “For our family, if we have lots of people in the house with a cold we’d put cut onions in the windowsills to attract all the germs and get rid of the cold bug. Willy Sullivan recalls using a bowl of boiling water with a few drops of turpentine in, put your head over the bowl covered with a towel and breathe in the moisture. Turpentine is said to be good for your chest says Willie.
If we got a bee-sting we’d take some mud or if too dry take some water outside and make mud to rub on the sting and let it dry. For an ear-ache Grandma would get someone to blow smoke into the sore ear. If we had warts, Grandma said to kill a garter snake and rub its blood on the warts and let the blood dry all day. We don’t know if it was the snake blood or not but the warts went away. Others were told to cut a potato in half, rub it on the warts and bury the potato. When the potato rotted and the new plant grew your warts would be gone.
For a sore eye we took an egg-cup of sterile water and used it to rinse out the eye. If it was a sty in your eye, Grandma took her wedding band and rubbed the gold over your eye to bring healing.
Some Wise thoughts to Remember:
• “If you have a bad cough take a large dose of laxatives. Then you’ll be afraid to cough.”
• “Smiles are just like colds – they’re catching.”
• “An ounce of example is worth a ton of advice”
• “It’s better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret”
• “Life is like a coin – you can spend it any way you wish, but you can only spend it once.”
• “Enjoy life – this is not a rehearsal”
• “Always laugh when you can. It’s cheap medicine.”