Whitesburg KY

Home remedies could be worse than ailment

As a young lad growing up on the River Road above Blackey, I was subjected to a variety of sayings, beliefs and home remedies. There was usually a home remedy for almost any ailment. Some of the beliefs and sayings were as farfetched as the home remedies.

If we got a cut, especially on our feet, or stepped on a nail, out came the bottle of turpentine. A little turpentine was the miracle cure of almost any cut or puncture wound. It wasn’t any good for boils or risings. For those, a slice of raw potato or fatback was required to bring them to a head so they could be opened with a needle or pin. Sometimes they were lanced with a sharp instrument such as a knife or razor so as to get the core out. Because if the core of the ailment wasn’t removed, it would just come right back. If a boil or carbuncle had to be lanced, it always left a scar.

For colds, flu, and droopiness, some piping hot ginger tea or sassafras tea was recommended. Sassafras tea had to be made from the roots of red sassafras trees because the white variety was awful bitter. Cough syrup was made using corn whiskey or shine (moonshine). If one couldn’t be acquired, the other was used. There were about six other ingredients which went into the whiskey or shine. A good stiff shot of this concoction and one would forget all about the coughing by the time a normal breathing cycle resumed because it burned all the way down. And it was meant for non-smokers, too, because after a shot of this remedy it would be hazardous to the health to attempt to light up too

remedies could be worse than ailment

soon after taking it. It might even be a good substitute for rocket fuel. A little coal oil mixed with brown sugar worked about as well and wasn’t near as dangerous.

A silver dollar in a bird cage would keep the devil away. This little gimmick was usually used if company was coming who couldn’t be trusted. The first time I ever saw this belief in action was in Wolfe County. I was already of the opinion that money didn’t go anywhere, but I had never seen anyone try to prevent it from going by putting it in a cage.

At the time, I didn’t know that there were other reasons for caging a silver dollar, but I didn’t ask any questions and I am glad now that I didn’t. You just don’t go around questioning a body’s believe even if you don’t believe it yourself. I heard of another belief concerning the blood from a black

chicken, but I wouldn’t touch that one with a 10-foot pole.

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