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Pinch of Time

March 12, 2014

Talk of old-time remedies makes me feel better

It was a rare day last week that our editor, Lois Clermont, took a partial sick day. It’s been about 120 years since that happened.

She is tenacious and just doesn’t give in to sickness. One day she asked me if I could remember cold remedies from my youth and that, of course, brought back many memories of cuddles with Mum and the special attention she gave her children.

I also received an email asking if I had ever taken Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. I don’t remember that one, but, I do remember my mother or father taking me to Dr. Stamatiades in Brushton, and leaving there with a brown bottle of something that tasted awful but did the trick to take away a cough. How is it we moved from receiving our medicine at the country doctor’s office to having to pay such a high price for medicine at a pharmacy?

When I think back, I also remember that my mother had the perfect remedy for a chest cold or stuffy nose: rub your neck with Vicks Vaporub, wrap a sock around your neck and sleep with it on all night. Yes, we really did that. We would breathe the vapors from the Vicks and feel pretty good the next day.

If you happened to be at my grandmother’s when the sniffles took hold of you, the sock she gave you was one of Grampa’s hand-knit wool socks. You endured that until you got in bed, then took it off before you scratched yourself to death.

Another get-well answer was to pour boiling water into a bowl, add a tablespoon of Vicks (thank God they invented Vicks), position yourself over the bowl with a large bath towel over your head and breathe deeply. Worked great, as I remember.

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