We knew the regimen for each ailment:
- Cough? A teaspoon of honey mixed with a few drops of lemon juice.
- Tummy Ache? Chicken soup, hot tea, and toasted crackers slathered with butter.
- Sore Throat? Suck on horehound drops.
- Bad Breath? Brush teeth with baking soda and gargle with salt water.
- Canker Sore? Apply paste made of alum and water.
- Bee Sting? Remove stinger and cover with paste made of baking soda and water.
- Wound or Cut? Soak in warm water to which Epsom Salts was added; dry and apply iodine. (Ouch!)
- Cold Hands? Rub vigorously through hair.
- Headache? Place the inside of a banana peel at base of skull, cover with towel; lie down in a darkened room.
- Diarrhea? Eat Apples.
- The Blues? Homemade potato soup served with toast.
Mom was quite the folk practitioner. I can count on one hand the number of times I went to the doctor during childhood and adolescence.
Not only did Mom have cures, she also had "fixes." Sometimes when I share some of her fixes, I see raised eyebrows. But they all work and they are economical.
- Fruit juice on a washable fabric? Place the stained portion of the fabric over a strainer and run a stream of boiling water over the stain until it disappears. (No, this does not set the stain. The stain totally disappears.)
- Mildew on cloth? Soak in sour milk. (Worked back in the day before pasteurization when milk could still be soured rather than just turn smelly and bitter.)
- Iron rust on cloth? Wet with lemon juice, sprinkle with table salt, put out in the sun.
- Water ring on table? Cover the spot with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Sprinkle with a small amount of baking soda. Rub lightly with a soft cloth in the direction of the grain of the wood. Remove all mayo and buff with dry soft cloth. (May need to be repeated.)