NEWS FROM THE HILLS
March entered out hills like a bad-tempered lion, scattered some snowflakes hither and yon, and brought frigid temperatures both day and night. Tulips that had raised hopeful heads through the dirt in the flower bed hunkered back down to await a warmer day. Trees held their buds in and shivered in the freezing air.
Skies as blue as indigo and sunlight falling on the hills gives the illusion of a warm, sunny day, which is quickly dispelled by a venture outside. It won’t be long though, until we experience some genuine spring days with warm temperatures and budding flowers.
The awakening of the earth from her winter sleep is a renewed miracle, repeated year after year. Although we may have witnessed many springs, each time it is new and just as welcome. This may not have been a bad winter in comparison to winters in the past, but it seems as if it has lasted a long time.
I have been fighting some type of viral infection for over a week, and I was almost afraid for awhile it was going to win. It cumulated into severe chest congestion and bouts of asthma attacks. Thanks to my wonderful doctor, Dr. Leela Patel, who goes far beyond the call of duty to minister to her patients, I am getting better.
Andy had tried the Vick’s salve remedy on the soles of his feet for coughing at night, and he swore it really worked. I tried it one night, putting white socks over the salve, but it didn’t help me too much. I think my trouble was too deep in my chest. Randy kept urging me to fry some onions and make a poultice for my chest, and to drink some of the onion juice. His mother always used this on her kids with great success. I felt too bad to fry the onions.
This onion remedy is mentioned in numerous places, so it is bound to have some merit to it. One lady remembers her grandmother slicing some onions in a cup, adding some sugar, and placing it on the back of the cook stove near the hot water reservoir. There the sugar combined with the onion to make a sweet syrup good for colds.
Someone asked me what people did in the old days for asthma when they had no access to doctors and modern drugs. “Just die, I reckon,” I answered. I was just kidding—they did have remedies for chest congestions and croup. Dr. Harper, one of our old time medical doctors, strongly recommended rubbing camphorated oil on the chest, covering it with a warmed flannel cloth, and “don’t fan around!”
Chestnut syrup was recommended for coughs. “Boil the leaves of the chestnut tree until the water is red. Add sufficient sugar and boil down to a thin syrup. Will cure whooping cough.”
Mullein leaves, one of Daddy’s old standbys, was also used for cough syrup. Simmer dried mullein leaves in water for about 20 minutes, then stir and strain. To a cup of this liquid, add a cup of brown sugar and bottle it. Sip as needed to alleviate coughs.
This same mixture may be boiled until thick, poured into a pan, and cut into lozenges for cough drops. I have used coltsfoot leaves in the same manner—boiling the syrup until it forms a hard ball in cold water. It tasted a lot like horehound candy.
I would like to try the red clover tea made from fresh red clover blossoms. To make, boil and strain an ounce of flowers. Add to a pint of honey-sweetened syrup. This makes a safe and reliable medicine cough medicine. Use a teaspoonful twice a day.
Sassafras tea is recommended for head colds—boil small pieces of sassafras roots (the more the better) in water until it changes color, than drink. I can’t think of a more delicious medicine.
All herbal medicines are not bitter and nasty. I always loved to chew slippery elm bark, and it is an excellent remedy for sore throats.
This might have been one of the asthma remedies, called the castor oil cure. “When choking with croup, take a teaspoon of castor oil mixed with a little soda. You will throw up your socks.” I remember the croup “tents” made by placing the sick child under a propped-up sheet, and using steam from a teakettle. Moist air is effective, but I think I’ll stick to a humidifier.
We received some more information about the song, “Two Little Rosebuds.” June Jones of Charleston writes that I was correct in thinking that Hank Williams was not the author. The song is much older than Hank. Also, it is a true story, although we are unsure if it is a West Virginia happening. She called a friend who has a collection of ancient albums and she copied the song, written and recorded by Clyde Moody.
Also, we received a copy of the song from June Painter of Hurricane, and the two copies correspond. Here is the complete last verse:
“Father and mother now listen,
Your buds will bloom for them:
They cannot come back to you,
But you can go to them:
So always live for Jesus,
And then your boat will sail;
Watch your step, watch your step,
And keep the narrow trail.
Thank you ladies, for sharing this with us.
We have another reader looking for the lyrics to a very old song. Barbara Holley writes that her mother is 89 years old, and used to sing a song to her when she was a little girl. Unfortunately, she can’t remember the words to it, but it went something like this: “Racove (sp?) racove, the place of childhood and home.”
Barbara says that it was a sad song about children dying or something, and her mother could never sing it all without crying. It seems to me that most of the songs our mothers sang to us were tearjerkers—or else that is the ones we remember.
If I have failed to respond to requests, I am sorry. My e-mail got messed up and I am sure I lost a lot of things. Also, I misplace letters, lose papers and am forgetful. The 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes explains my condition, but the 13th verse is the best. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
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