Happy Monday, all. I’m nursing a head cold, THE head cold from hell, mind you, and the only reasons you’re seeing a post here are (a) I’m tired as hell of seeing that 100-words post and (b) the position I hold my head in when I type actually allows me to breathe, thus supplying me with the oxygen I so desperately need. You never really know how much you miss something until you have to go without it, you know?

Anyway, I was sittin’ and thinkin’, trying to remember some of the old family remedies that had been passed down, and I realized that I could only remember the ones I would never use. Like something involving turpentine.

Seriously, folks. I know I was born into the European upper middle class, but when my mamma’s plane landed her smack dab in the middle of Chipola, Louisiana, there was a definite lack of, say, class systems. There were basically two — the high class and the low class — and you can guess which ones had the indoor plumbing. I kid you not. Bless her heart. She musta loved my daddy somethin’ awful.

I digress. The idea behind this is that I’ve been around a lot of very unsophisticated people. That is not to say that I didn’t learn a ‘world of good’ from them. In fact, we need more people like, as they say, ‘my daddy’s people.’ Country, simple, with little education but loads of common sense.

Except when it comes to cold remedies. I swear, y’all, there was something involving turpentine and honey. There was something else involving whiskey and honey. (They only drank for medicinal purposes, these people. Except for Uncle Calvin, who used to seize the opportunity to sneak a little of the devil’s medicine into the back seat of a Model T he had restored, and my aunt would have to pull his drunk ass outta there from time to time. Tsk, tsk…he musta been tired to fall asleep back there…)

We also had an angel, in the form of Alice, who was the wonderful woman my mom hired as a housekeeper. Alice got there early in the morning, got us off to school, had the house clean and a snack ready by the time we got home, and left when my parents got home from work. Sometimes she even had supper cooked. And I think she made maybe $20 a week back then. I remember a neighbor calling my parents one time to ‘remind’ them that the ‘coloreds’ should ride in the back seat. I could write an entire post on what my Spanish spitfire of a mother told them.

Between Alice and my aunts, though, we got knowledge to last a lifetime. Like taping a quarter to a baby’s bellybutton to make sure it didn’t become an ‘outtie.’ Wearing a copper wire around your wrist to ward off arthritis. And once, when my brother was playing with my baby sister and he turned her upside down, my aunt hollered, “be careful, you’ll flip the baby’s liver!”

So, what about you? What old remedies have you heard of? I’m off to find some turpentine.

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