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Just Outside My Door

February 22, 2012
By Elaine G. Cole - CORRESPONDENT ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Good morning folks. We were blest once again last week with several sunny days. Thursday, I went outside to enjoy it. I found its rays felt warm on my face despite the cold temperature. Surprisingly, some of the snapdragons in the bed by the garage were still green. I thought about going down to the creek, but resisted the urge and sat on the front porch steps awhile and then walked around the house checking my flowerbeds and the north border. I found the lilac buds out front, which were set last fall, were still fat and would burst in to bloom in May or early June. I didn't find any snowdrops in the border up yet, but I picked some forsythia branches there to take inside and put in vase with water. Hopefully they will burst into yellow blooms in a few days bringing a pre-season glimpse of spring inside. I then came back inside refreshed and ready to begin my copy for the next week's paper.

I already knew the topic I planed to write about in my column having looked up information about some of the beliefs the pioneers had about fixing various problems and sicknesses that plagued them. The men and women in those early days of our country were a hardy lot. There were few doctors and they were far apart. Moreover, some so-called ones had very little training. Thus various methods of healing were handed down by previous generations. It was the same when it came to fixing certain problems of daily life. Those frontiersmen and women believed elixirs brews and rituals were the only things available to try to fix whatever the trouble. They even thought the only way to get rid of a sickness was to transfer to an animal, plant or object. Although people today think it hard to believe such methods gave hope to those early settlers, as one looks at them today it is almost laughable.

Methods the pioneers used include; finding a tree stump that has rainwater in it and putting it on the arthritic joints that hurt; if one has a boil they should eat roadrunner soup; a bald-headed person can smear fresh cow manure on their head to "fertilize" the growth of new hair; if someone gets chicken pox, they should run naked around the chicken house three times: it will help chills of one finds a dogwood tree before dawn and stands behind it until sunrise; to cure a cold, pound dried frog skins into a fine powder with fruit juice and drink it; if one gets cut, apply a large red ant so that its jaws grip each side of the wound, pinch off the ant's body behind the head and supposedly the jaws will keep the edges at the wound clamped together while it heals; for fever blisters, coat them with earwax.

I used to have a lot of headaches, but I doubt very much if it would have helped to lean my head against a tree and have someone on the opposite side of the tree drive a nail into the tree. As for lockjaw, put cockroaches in hot water and steep. Drink several cups of the tea. I'm sure it would make me regurgitate it all and the thought almost makes me ill. For hiccups, lay a broom on the floor and jump over it three times. I'd rather try holding my breath, it wouldn't look so dumb.

Lice is something most moms hope their child doesn't pick it up in school. If one does get them, they might try undressing them and put their clothes on an anthill. The ants will devour the lice. Should one get rheumatism, fry pill bugs, rollie-pollies or sow bugs and eat them. Yak. Get a sore throat, tie nine knots in a piece of black thread, soak the thread in turpentine and wear it around your neck. Cure a toothache by spiting into a frog's mouth and asking it to leave with the toothache. Lastly, warts will disappear if one dips the eye of a dead cat in spunk water and put it on the wart.

I certainly don't advise any of you to try those methods, but they certainly could be a topic to discuss if you can't find anything else to talk about.



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