Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rexall Recollections

Thank goodness I am on the tale end of a bad cold. The Boss has done real good with putting up with it. I may have even worn out the sympathy card. Advances in medicine have developed techniques of reattaching severed limbs, organ transplants, and I have even seen a picture where a lab rat had a cloned human ear growing on its back. (Now that was gross) Why is it that if we go to the doctor with a terrible case of a “bad cold”, all we hear is “drink lots of liquids, take Tylenol and give me 93.74 (ninety three dollars and seventy four cents). Now doesn’t that make you feel all better now, but “show me the cure”. I borrowed that last tag line from Wendy’s but changed it up a bit.

We are bracing for a cold front to come through later today, but it is here a little early. After the same old "bring in pizza" and stretching out with the paper towel ottoman routine, I thought back to that old wood heater

One weekend, long ago, my Grandma and Aunt came to visit us and it had just come a big cold spell. Daddy had the old wood heater roaring full force and it was a puffing and heaving to get more air. The front had a round snout with little triangular vent windows, three of them, and they were flared wide open. Sort of put in mind of a jack-o-lantern except there were two eyes, a nose but no mouth, all glowing hellish orange drawing deep breaths in order to feed the flames.

Aunt Sybil had three boys at the time but I can only remember one being there. John Wayne, my cousin, and I both had bad colds. The day had worn on and something was said about “doctoring” our colds before they had to leave. John Wayne being the oldest got to go first. Aunt Sybil had John Wayne stand next to the heater and open his mouth for his first “dose”. Several drops of coal oil (kerosene) was dripped onto a round tablespoon of sugar and stuck into John Wayne’s open mouth.

“John Wayne, take that now. I ain’t got all day.” Her voice sounded suspiciously as if this might not be the end of it.

“Unnnnaahhh.” John Wayne tried to shake his head no.

“Close that mouth.”

Eyes closed tight and a big frown, he made loose with a little foot stomping dance, but swallowed his “medicine.”

“Now open up again.”

I guess he thought I was going to somehow save him as he cut his eyes over at me, but I wasn’t going to step in. Heck, he was older than me, he was on his own. With a defeated look he finished his dance and stood back beside the heater and opened his mouth for continued administration of his cure.

“Where’s the Vicks Salve?” Aunt Sybil looked over at Daddy but still keeping one eye on John Wayne as Daddy handed her the blue jar with the green top. With one swift motion, she spun the top off, dipped in with her finger and withdrew a glob of the translucent wonder salve.

“Stick out your tongue.” A quick swipe and the vaporous glob disappeared into John Wayne’s mouth. The dance regained its momentum. He had been “doctored”.

Now it was my turn. I didn’t figure I would get the same prescription because both of those treatments were totally new to me. I had a pretty good idea of the trail I was fixing to hike. Daddy had already fashioned something that looked like a bib. Well, I guess it was a bib; a square piece of cloth, about the size of a wash cloth, torn from an old sheet. Two torn strips of the sheet were tied to corners of the bib, making tie string to hold it around my neck. A liberal amount of the Vicks Salve was smeared over one surface of the bib and held close to the huffing heater to help “activate” its healing power.

“Get over here, Boy.” I knew from the sideways grin there wasn’t any room for foolishness so I turned away from the heater and the gooey side of the “plaster” was stuck to my chest. The vapors jumped straight up into my nasal passages. The warmth and sensation was a surprising relief from the cold air. The good part was over. Out comes the dreaded yellow box; the notorious Black Draught, pronounced “black-draw”, such a fitting title. Black Draught is supposedly a nature herb product. It is ground up leaves of some sort that look like sage with the same taste except mix in a little bit of creosote and dried goat dung and I think you just about have it. A heaping teaspoon, or larger depending on size and age, is taken dry but immediately “chased” with some form of large volume liquid; and wait. If you believe in the “flushing” of poison from you system, this is your ticket. Now, I was doctored.

I don’t know if all that worked but we did get over our colds at some point. I am not sure but probably this method of treatment is just an old country unproven remedy. Now that I am all grown up and moved out of that hand hewn log cabin and live in modern civilization, I am sure that type of treatment is just a lot of foolery. But you know what, I kind of like the smell of Vicks Salve. Truthfully, I have a jar on my night stand. The Boss sometimes tells me that it reminds me of her mother. Actually, I sometimes use it for lip balm or other purposes, I know it probably doesn’t work but I like the smell but I really hate getting tangled up in those danged tie straps around my neck.


  1. hehehehee,,,it's amazing that stuff didn't kill ya'all...

  2. My mom used to put Vicks on my chest and send me to bed with a white tshirt under my pajamas.

    I always hated that smell of eucalyptus.

  3. Glenn - I want to buy you a real ottoman! Seems a man of your stature deserves something more substantial. When I win the lottery...I'll send one along...check with the Boss to make sure it suits her decor!

    Kills me....KILLS me that there is no cure for a cold. I've been told to rub Vicks on the bottom of your feet and in between your toes before bed and Wahlah!!!! *poof*. Cold is gone or minmized. Just can't bring myself to try it.

  4. Vicks Vaporub is good stuff; it does help to open up the nasal passages; I use it whenever I have a cold. It's also wonderful for aching muscles! My mother used to put a pea-sized lump in my mouth when I had a cold. I never heard of those other cures though!

  5. Vicks was used in our home as well, we were rubbed down and wrapped around the neck and chest and a dab was put under our nose.....I still believe it works!......:-) Hugs

  6. That was a good story, my friend, and it made me think of old days and old remedies we used.
    Hope y'all are having a good week....
    blessings on you and yours..
    glenda =0/

  7. I could smell the Vicks as I read your tale. Great story. Hope you're over your cold!

  8. I love the smell of Vicks (obviously the same name in the US and UK) and I heard that when you have a bad cold if you rub it thickly over the bottom of your foot then put on socks that it helps. I tried it and def felt less 'bunged up' in the morning. Something to do with reflexology I'm told. My mum used to always smother us in Vicks when we were full of cold and the smell brings back such lovely memories for me of my mother.

  9. Ouch - are you meant to swallow that stuff? I remember it being liberally applied to my torso and getting stuck to my PJ's..kill or cure..I guess the old remedies incorporated that into their design..Jae (hope you are feeling better)

  10. Glenn, I say this with all the softness that I can muster, god, I love it when you write these stories. I do I do I do I do. It's beautiful. And don't try to tell me that your cousin's name was really John Wayne! (Although I know it probably was.) Every bit of this is perfection. This one is publishable right now, today, and should be.

    I'm glad you're still partial to the Vicks:) Me too. Did you know you can get it in liquid form and put it on the top of a vaporizor and yer whole damn room can smell like it. It's like swimming in the stuff. It's wonderful. (Can't get it in Canada though, sadly.)

    And never you mind being quiet at my new place. That business was NOT for you! You wouldn't believe the whoopla I went through with that blogger of note b.s. Was getting over a 1000 nonsense hits a day. Just needed to run away and be me. I want you there, that's why I came and found you. Hope I didn't offend you, Glenn.


  11. Vick Salve used to do wonders for me. I was commanded to rub it on my chest at night before I went to bed so I could experience it's healing vapors all night long. I think it worked and I need to get some.

  12. Oh, I remember Vicks!! That could clear out a room :) Hope you're feeling better Glenn.

  13. Sorry I'm late! I'd heard of kerosene as a 'remedy' for rubbing on joints for arthritis, I think mixed with some kind of lubicant like axle grease, but never used as something to swallow! Yikes! As for vicks, I use it all the time for colds and sometimes for itches and bug bites. This made for a great story, Glenn, and you've got a memory like a steel trap!

  14. Get over here boy! LAUGHING! Hate the Vicks!! cruel and unusual medicine. I do not care what they say. ;)

  15. Oh my gosh, this was such a great post, Glenn! I, too, hated the smell of Eucalyptus for years because of having Vicks smeared on my chest as a child. I have an 'older' friend who suggested the bottom-of-the-feet remedy (and yes, one must don socks afterward) for a terrible cold my son had. He tried it--and called me the next day, feeling much better. Of course, he'd slept 12 hours, which is probably what healed him.
    Hope by now you're better, my friend!

  16. i like the smell of vick's vaporub. and my daddy's from texas. so i guess we got some things in common.

  17. I missed this! I never experienced Vick's, thought it always seemed neat. I love the smell of eucalyptus. (Probably spelled that wrong, but you get what I mean!)

  18. I wanna know how they survived the "coal oil" - blergh! I almost bought some Vick's this weekend when I was getting other stuff for my flu-whatever, and I thought of you :) I opted for Sudafed instead, then wished I had tried Vick's.

    However, the Kleenex I bought was Vick's-scented, if you can believe that! No medicinal purposes (made my nose cold but didn't open up anything), but it cracked me up.