"THE BEULAH MAE & MARVIN O'DELL MC CLURE YEARS"
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
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.
Return to TOC
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
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.
Return to TOC
(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.
This Site Created, Maintained By: Mary A. Hudson