Cooking for Daily Living
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Granny Took Care

Oh, How She Took Care Of Us!

August and Dog Days were like salt and pepper. . .Granny seldom thought of one without the other. It was the time of year when the snakes shed their skins and went blind and would strike at any noise they heard. It was the time when Fido was apt to go frothy at the mouth, sidle up to you and take out a chunk; in which case you were “done fer,” unless of course, you knew where to find a mad stone.

Granny said she once knew a woman, who had known somebody who had been bitten by a mad dog, and another somebody “searched out a mad stone,” said a few words over it and bound it on the wound. It drew out all the “pizen” and the dog came off second best. Don’t ask me. “What is a mad stone?” It was long before my time. But anyhow, come August, you watch that pup. Mad stones are mighty hard to come by.

August was the time, also, when fall was beginning to threaten, and Granny began to hurry her herb gathering, lest winter with its colds, grippes, agues and rheumatiz should arrive ahead of schedule and catch her with her medical department out of order. She made a tea to make you quit wetting the bed and another to help you out, if you couldn't. The attic hung full of drying leaves, stems and roots from which to make tonics, cures, potions and balms. . .and when those ran out, there was the old family doctor book, at least four inches thick. Between Granny and that ample volume recovery was often a matter of trial. error, and pure stamina.

Granny made a mean mustard plaster—strictly for adults. The resulting blister were ninety percent sure to make you forget about the cold in your chest. For the wee ones, there was a rub made of goose grease camphor, eucalyptus oil, turpentine and wintergreen. If the case was a bad one, the wee one was greased on the bottom of his footsies and in the arm pits with a mixture of quinine and lard. This failing there was a warm and greasy fried onion poultice between two thin cloths to lay over the small chest.

There was a special cough syrup made of sliced onions and sugar kept in a warm place until the onion juice was drawn and the little devils loved it!

I can vouch the poultice. I moved one of my babies (four months old) with a layer of the gooey stuff on her small chest, afraid to remove it for fear she might catch cold. We arrived at a lonely railroad section house miles from nowhere, and were unloaded from a passenger car coupled to the end of a log train, at 2 o'clock in the morning. There we huddled in a snow storm until some sleepy laborers could be awakened to let us in out of the weather. (She grew up hale and hardy, hut never very big.)

Granny's whooping treatment was prickly pear syrup flavored with lemon and sugar, or when obtainable mare’s milk. I could manage a violent whoop any old time, as long as that syrup held out, but the milk I could do without.

If a child came down with an unrecognized symptom the usual procedure was a cleaning out with castor oil followed b a worm cure—just in case Granny's worm cure consisted of a teaspoon of sugar fortified with a drop or two of kerosene or turpentine. Then, if the patient showed no improvement he might be treated to a spoonful of shaved deer horn, a remedy recommended by an Indian friend.

She boiled milk with flour, sugar and nutmeg for diarrhea, followed by more Castor oil.

She suffered with us through our earaches while she blew warm smoke into the affected ear ‘til she turned sick and green, then promised to skin us if we told anyone she had been seen smoking.

She put everything in the spice cupboard in our aching teeth, then as a last resort came Copenhagen snuff! Funny, but if seemed to help.

Eczema sufferers were bathed in warm milk . . .and a hot soda bath helped to “bring out” the measles.

Our spring tonic was an infusion steeped from wild choke cherry bark or the roots of the equally wild Oregon grape. We were instructed with emphasis, to help ourselves to a swallow from a dipper in the crock, any time we happened to pass by. The bitter stuff was made almost bearable by seeing which of us could make the worst looking face as it went down.

As for me, I became famous at an early age for resistance to medication of any kind, so Grandad’s help was usually elicited at the onset. The cure I remember most vividly was one that Granny used for any itch or skin rash of unknown origin. I found that gunpowder is hot in more ways than one, they mixed it with lard and applied it to my red, itchy stomach, a remedy garnered from relatives in far away Nova Scotia. Lucky the circumstance—the rash wasn't on the back of my anatomy. As it was, they had to lock the door and then catch me!