My grandmother’s generic treatments for our childhood illnesses were successful because we were too terrified to get sick. The potions and homemade remedies combined country folklore with whatever magic medicine was stocked in the pantry. Only sissies and townsfolk went to the doctor.
Grandma’s healing practices were legendary. If we had a sore throat, she would wrap raw bacon in a tea towel and pin it around our neck. Consequently, my brothers and I never mentioned if we felt sick. Suffering in silence was preferable to smelling like a meat locker.
Another home remedy for coughs was to smear Vicks VapoRub on the soles of our feet, cover them with thick stockings, and send us to bed. If that didn’t work, we were fed raw onions and honey. Needless to say, we held back a cough until our ears bled.
The cure for earaches was practical. Heat a green onion in the stove and then stick the bulb in the painful ear. The warm vegetable would dissolve any wax buildup and eliminate the pain. We knew not to look in the mirror or answer the door while wearing onions in our ears.
One nifty trick to remove fish bones stuck in our throats was to swallow a raw egg. If that didn’t absorb the irritating bones and flush them down, the thick substance caused us to vomit the bones and the egg. Mission accomplished.
I remember injuring my elbow after falling out of a tree. Grandma wrapped my arm in a tea towel made from a flour sack and tied the ends around my neck. I wasn’t able to climb another tree for several years and my arm is still crooked.
Back in those days, Grandma was under pressure to survive with what she had. She made soap, churned butter, sewed clothes for her children, and baked every meal from scratch. Her pantry held a cornucopia of canned fruits and vegetables. And remedies. But we all survived and lived to tell about it. Thanks, Grandma.