Anything from a cough to the flu, a spider bite to a wasp sting to a case of head lice was readily cured by something that my grandmother believed would help.
Many of these homemade cures were staples of the medicine cabinet and they doubled for multiple purposes.
I hated to even mention that I felt anything less than the utmost of health and vitality.
At the mere whisper that my stomach was upset, Grandma would serve me up a sweet, but hideous, looking glass of prune juice.
It looked like the swill at the bottom of a tobacco chewer's spit cup and I must say that as a child, I thought it tasted that way, too.
The prune juice was meant as a stool softener; I guess it worked ... eventually. If the prune juice didn't quench Grandma's taste for inflicting torture, the Castor oil did; the oil, a taste I will never, ever forget, was like the oldest, biggest and meanest brother of stool softeners/laxatives ... it works beautifully.
Another surefire way to cure an ailment was the Vick's Vapor Rub.
Even if you tried to hide it, grandma could tell by your voice that you had a cold.
The white container with a blue lid in her hand, she sat on the edge of the bed and had you sit up.
I admit it was nice and soothing when she would rub some on my chest and under my nose; it made my eyes water a little, but I actually could breathe a little better.
However, was it really necessary, Grandma, to make me eat a finger full of this greasy salve? It coated my teeth as I choked it down, making it impossible to sleep, for I then had to incessantly swallow for 15 minutes straight trying to vacate my mouth of that impossible and detestable coating.
Sometimes, I felt as if Grandma and my mother sat at the window waiting for one of us to fall down. Why else would they even consider putting what I considered battery acid on our cuts and scrapes?
Walking in the house with a scraped knee, she would grab a bottle of Mercurochrome or iodine and swab it into the open wound.
Oh my God, how it burned.
Back then, I was sure that it would burn completely through my leg.
"It burns, Grandma," any one of us would say as she fanned the burning with a magazine.
"It's OK. We used this stuff when I was a little girl and it healed right up," she would say.
I still cannot believe that they endured the same pain and in turn passed it on to their kids and grandchildren.
I know, because they always told me, that people were tougher back then, but give me a break. It seems borderline insane. Now, how about the holidays?
Just like all kids, my cousins, siblings and I loved Easter, Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's and all the sweet sugary goodies that our parents allowed us to stuff in our mouths.
In the same way that kids think about the now and not the near future when they stand in place and spin in circles, we gorged and gobbled all the sweets we got our hands on.
Mom, because of Grandma's warning, worried about the worms that Grandma assured her would infest us from eating too much candy. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down? Baloney!
A spoonful of sugar masked the disgusting taste of turpentine like a smile masks a hungry shark. They actually had us eat a spoonful of sugar with a few drops of turpentine in it, and yes, it tastes exactly how it smells.
Bug Bites: I was gathering eggs for my Great Uncle Virgil when I was a teenager. Somewhere in the process, I was bitten by a spider. A knot the size of a silver dollar raised on my arm.
Upon showing my uncle (who smoked a pipe), he put a big chaw of the pipe tobacco in his mouth and after it was real good and real slobbery, he splattered it onto my arm and wrapped a kerchief around it.
I remember watching his spit seep out from underneath the cloth and drip off my arm. Yuck!
Anyhow, I survived the stomach aches; the stopped up noses eventually cleared up; my knee did heal; I am never, and probably never will be, malnourished or wormy, and my arm never fell off from the spider bite.
So that being said, maybe it worked?