Page Three


Family Doctor: Every Family Had One

Pop would have enjoyed being a doctor, because he was  very  serious  about
his home remedies, folk medicine and backwoods surgery. Most of the parents
at this time didn't take their children to the hospital, unless they needed
surgery or had a broken bone. 

As boys, we enjoyed going barefoot during the  summer  months  and  usually
stepped on a nail or two during this  period.  When  and  if  the  puncture
became infected and it always seemed to, Pop would take out his old  trusty
pocket knife, wipe the blade on his trouser leg,  pour  a  little  kerosene
(coal-oil) on the blade, lance the infected area and squeeze out  the  pus.
Then he would pour a little coal-oil over  the  incision,  bandage  it  and
instruct us to keep it clean. He must have been pretty good at it,  because
I don't remember him ever having to repeat  this  procedure  for  the  same
infection. The procedure was so painful that we would always pull away  and
whimper, even before he began to cut. He would tell us to  hold  still  and
quit acting like a baby or he would knock our head off.
He was no diplomat  when  it  came  to  surgery,  assuming  a  professional
attitude when it came to being our family doctor. It's  a  wonder  that  we
didn't die of lockjaw. None of us had  a  Tetanus  shot  until  we  entered
military service. Stone bruises to the heel  were  also  a  problem  during
barefoot season. With these a person had to walk on their toes  for  a  few
days to a couple of weeks, depending on the severity of the bruise. It's  a
wonder that Pop didn't want to lance these to see how much  blood  that  he
could squeeze out.

We took cod liver oil during the winter months and a medicine with  Quinine
in it during the summer months to prevent malaria or  some-such,  Paregoric
for the trots (diarrhea) sulfur & molasses  for  the  chills,  Red  (horse)
liniment for sore muscles,  castor  oil  (a  cure-all)  was  used  to  cure
everything  else  that  there  wasn't  already  a  cure  for,  to   include

We were given a teaspoon full of sugar saturated with gasoline,  turpentine
or coal-oil for a cough. (believe me they were all awful). Horehound  candy
was also used as a cough remedy. Vicks cough drops were almost  as  bad  as
Vicks itself, most of the kids preferred either the cherry  flavored  Luden
and the highly flavored black licorice Smith Bros. Cough  drops.  Horehound
candy was Grannies favorite candy. Some people wore asafetida  bags  around
their neck to ward off respiratory infections.  Mother  was  big  on  Vicks
salve during the cold season, greasing our chest, back,  stuffing  some  up
our nose and giving us a blob to suck on. I still shudder when I  think  of
any part of it.

There was also a Denver mud used for chest colds. It had the consistency of
grease and looked like mud. There was a clover salve that was used for  all
forms of skin rashes. It was sold by individuals, who ordered  it  by  mail
and would receive a gift for selling X number tins of  the  salve.  

Camphur was used for fainting and internally with sugar for a  cold.  Coal-
oil was used on abrasions, cuts and rashes. White iodine was used to  clear
up ring-worms. There was a variety of items used on boils such as  a  piece
of lettuce, slice of tomato, a piece of bread saturated with milk, a  thick
slice of onion and garlic, but the all time favorite treatment was a  piece
of fatback.

Some people would heat a coke bottle and place the opening  over  the  boil
(they were also called risens) to draw out the core. Mustard plasters  were
also used for chest colds and boils, but it would not work unless there was
a piece of red flannel on top of the muster plaster. So, you can see why we
were on our death bed before we would admit that we were not feeling well.
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Superstitious:  We All Had Superstitions

Pop didn't believe in the little people  (leprechauns),  but  he  was  very
superstitious. He would never step over a broom, or move one from one house
to another, walk under a ladder or walk with one shoe on and one shoe  off.
He would not allow a black cat to cross in  front  of  him.  I  recall  him
returning home in his car when a black cat crossed the road in front of him
just before he left the city limits. He would shake a few  grains  of  salt
over his left shoulder, if he accidentally knocked over the salt shaker. He
spent a lot of time knocking on wood, to insure that  everything  continued
to go well.

The older folks seem to believe: Company was coming  if  his  nose  itched,
someone was talking about you, if your ears burned. Someone had walked over
his grave, when he had an eerie feeling. (I'm still out in  left  field  on
this one) it was bad luck to whistle at the table or sing in  bed.  He  was
going to make a lot of money if the palm of his  hand  itched  and  he  was
going to take a trip if the soles of his feet itched. A person was going to
kiss a blue eyed fool if their eyes itched. It was bad luck to wear  a  hat
in the house and a person should always leave by the  door  that  they  had
entered in.

It was 7 years bad luck if a person broke a mirror and bad luck to carry  a
two dollar bill (this is  why  the  treasury  department  discontinued  the
printing for so many years and their attempt to revive the  circulation  of
the two dollar bill in the mid-seventies was  a  dismal  failure).  And  of
course we all know that Friday  the  thirteenth  is  a  bad  luck  day.  He
insisted that his knife be returned to him just as you received it,  be  it
opened or closed. A knife or scissors should never be given away, even if a
person was only charged a penny for them.

We ate black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to insure good luck for the  forth
coming year, we were never allowed to drink milk  with  fish.  Some  people
wouldn't drink milk with  cherry  pie  or  leftover  coffee,  for  fear  of
poisoning. A banana should never be eaten while drinking whiskey (who would
want to). A horse shoe should always be hung with the opening up,  so  that
the good luck wouldn't run out. The next day would be clear if all  of  the
food was eaten. (which happened just about every day during the depression,
so I had my doubts about this one on a rainy day). An umbrella should never
be opened in doors. Pop was well versed in the old-wives-tales.

There were three boys and two girls in the Floyd family. Lester never  wore
a coat during the winter months and usually had his sleeves rolled up  when
he left for school each morning. He would fall on his side for a  stick  of
gum.  He  did  this   once   too   often,   breaking   his   arm.   Chester
(Cockeye/Caucas), had one lazy eye) was caught stealing candy and gum  from
the tavern by breaking a small window pane next to  the  candy  shelf.  Pop
relocated the candy, to help him break his sweet  tooth  habit.  A  few  of
Chester's pet expressions were, "Get hot  skillet,  Your  so  hot  tonight,
Lord, tonight I feel so unnecessary, You've been wrong  for  so  long,  but
you're so right tonight and When you're  right,  you're  right  and  You're

The Floyd girls, Belle and Sott  left  home  without  a  pot  and  returned
several years later draped in furs and dripping in diamonds. They had  both
married money while living in Chicago.
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In 1903 The average life expectancy in the US was forty-seven 

In 1903 the average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.  

(c) Taken from: "My Memories," written to my children, nieces & nephews. Charles McClure in Owasso, Oklahoma
(c) and Contributed by: Charles McClure

(c) All material contained on this site (within this document) is the work of Charles McClure.
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