Robin's Plantain

Robin's Plantain growing in WNC

I discovered a wildflower I've never seen, or at least never noticed, in my backyard last week. At first glance I thought it was Fleabane, but a closer inspection showed the petals were a lovely lavender color instead of white.

Fleabane growing in western nc
I grabbed my Wildflowers & Plant Communities book and discovered I was right in the first place, the plant is a member of the fleabane family. I didn't realize fleabane can range from white to the pale lavender of the plant I found.

Robin's Plantain is one of the common names that belongs to the plant. All fleabane is said to ward off fleas but I've never tried using the plant for anything.

The lovely grouping of wildflowers sprung up at the edge of the backyard near Wilma, our beloved beagle's grave.

Wilma was the dog we had before Ruby Sue. She's been gone nearly 15 years now. She was a true beagle and lived to chase rabbits. One evening when no one was at home the coyotes waited on her while she ran her favorite rabbit trail out the ridge from the house. I took her to the vet but there was nothing he could do, she died before morning. 

Wilma would never eat if someone was watching her. You could lay a steak beside her and she'd just sit patiently until you left before she picked it up. After the coyotes got her we were all so upset and even Pap said he ought to lay in wait till they came back down that trail. 

Funny how a group of wildflowers can take you down a road of remembering. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing Sunday April 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. Hayesville Church of the Nazarene - Hayesville NC

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Wart Removal Folklore - Real Stories

How to remove warts

I have several stories about wart removal for you today. If you missed the first post What to do for Warts go here

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The ability to remove warts was on both sides of my family. My people were mostly from the foot hills of Appalachia in North Georgia. My dad's grandmother removed over a hundred warts from my uncle one day. She made him go collect as many smooth stones as he could find and bring them to her. She was waiting with a paper bag. She took the stones and took turns rubbing the stones over the warts until a stone had been rubbed on every wart. As she did it, she whispered something inaudible under her breath. After she rubbed a wart, she dropped it in a paper sack. When all warts had been rubbed, she told my uncle to close the bag and place it on the side of the street. When someone came by, the warts would jump on them and my uncle wouldn't have them anymore. About three days later, all of my uncle's warts were gone. My mom's grandfather could just rub a wart and whisper something under his breath and it would go away soon. People always argue the placebo effect but he even made seed warts on live stock in the town go away.

Austin ~ October 2016

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Just came up on this site. My Papa buys warts as well, even to date, and has as long as I can remember, (early 60's). He requests the patient give him a dime for each wart to be removed. He has never told me exactly how it works, but I have witnessed numerous people who have visited for this reason, and later witnessed that they no longer had warts. He rolls the dime around the wart two or more times, hard to say, then lays it flat on the wart and removes it quickly, gives it back to the patient, and tells them to spend it, and forget where it was spent. One in particular I remember well, was one of my first cousins from Augusta, GA. He had terrible warts on both hands, and I didn't count them, nor hear the number, but it had to be upwards of 60, because he brought a brown paper bag in which he claimed to have $6.50 worth of dimes, and he wanted to sell all of them to Papa. Next time he visited, he was ranting on and on at how my Papa had made all his warts disappear, (and they were all gone). Papa told me that his grandmother, who passed in '59, also did this, and had taught him. He also learned to "talk fire out" from this same grandmother. This I did learn to do, by virtue of him teaching my mother, who in turn taught me. His grandmother told him when she taught him, that it had to pass from male to female, female to male, etc. My GGrandmother, who was a typical Matriarch of the family, and all our family since have lived in NE Alabama, foothills of the Appalachians, and mostly migrated from N. and S. Carolina before settling here.

J. Steele - August 2016

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My dad is 80 years old now, so I don't know if he still claims to be able to do this. However I know firsthand that he has this ability and we've never been able to explain it. He said that he got it from his grandmother who told simply told him "you will have the gift too". When I was a kid, I had a wart on the back of my right hand. A cat scratched me through it and left a trail, and the length of the scratch turned into a puffed up wart-like scar.My mom told me to go to my dad with it and he gently rubbed it without any medicine, home remedy, or other "witch doctor" action. About a week or two weeks later, I noticed that the wart and cat scratch scar were gone. Would love to know if there is any scientific reasoning in his body chemistry for this.

Jason Fuller - July 2016

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My wife Trish grew up in NE Arkansas in a family with old Irish roots. Kitchen Witchery was just part of the heritage. She told me a story of her having multiple warts on her hand that wouldn't go away. Her uncle took a string, tied the same number of knots as warts. He spit on each knot rubbed a knot on each wart then threw the string into a fire. The warts were gone in a few days.

John Olex - May 2016

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I know this is an old post, but I wanted to share my experience with warts. When I was little I had warts all over the back of both hands. I lived in a small farming community in SE Arkansas. My great aunt gave me some kernels of corn and told me to touch every wart with the corn, say a phrase (no idea what it was anymore), and throw the corn to the chickens. I did what I was told and within a couple of weeks all but one of them were gone. My mother told me later that she had wanted to tell me that it was just superstition, but after my warts disappeared she knew I wouldn't believe her. I just wish I knew what it was Aunt Jean told me to say!

Avilldr - January 2016

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As a youth my fingers were covered with warts around each nail. An old German neighbor lady had me take my mothers dish rag, wash my hands and then hide the rag where it would not be found. Some time later the warts all disappeared. I also seem to have been blessed with this power. I rub a copper penny over the wart, then use the same penny to buy the wart from the person who had it. So far it has worked on several occasions. The usual routine is that the person usually forgets all about the wart an one day they look and it is gone. Don't ask me why ... Perhaps faith .. God gives us each different gifts!

Glenn Anderson - September 2014

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I realize this thread is a bit old but I had to post my experience. I am from Missouri and I'm not sure of any of my ancestors living in the Appalachians but I do know that we have Blackfoot blood in our family. I had a wart on my wrist that popped up out of nowhere. I went to the dermatologist, had it burned off, and it came back. I was at my Uncle's house and he saw it. He grabbed my hand rubbed my wart with his thumb and asked me why I wanted that thing on my arm. I went into this rant about how it was burned off and came back. He told me not to worry that it would fall off soon and never come back. Sure enough, a few days later it was gone. That was 15 years ago and it has not come back. Many other family members have similar stories. We've always joked about the possibility that he takes the wart from us and his rear end is covered in them. Joking aside, I'm amazed that there is an entire thread on this phenomenon. I've got some crazy looks from people in the past 15 years when I tell them my story.

Bonnie Colson - June 2013

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My wife tells of the cure that they used. They would prick the wart to make it bleed, then rub grains of corn in the blood. The corn was wrapped in a rag then buried at a fork in a path. The next person to pass would get the warts.

Gary Powell - October 2011

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Tipper

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What To Do For Warts

 

How to remove warts

A few of my past posts continue to be quite popular. Even though it may have been years since I shared the posts here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn, internet search engines bring people to visit them on a regular basis. 

One of the old posts that is still garnering attention, as well as comments, is one I wrote back in 2011 about the mystery of folks who are able to remove warts by seemingly magical ways.

I've never had a wart before, but I did have some hideous growth on the inside of my thumb when I was pregnant with the girls.

My pregnancy was filled with one complication after the other. The weird growth was the most annoying and embarrassing. The condition has some long hard to say name, but I can't remember what it was. The doc who removed it explained it like this: I had injured my thumb in some small minor way-maybe I got a splinter or pricked it on a straight pen. My pregnant body went into over drive sending way too many resources to fix my thumb which resulted in a growth full of blood that bled all over the place at the slightest touch. A plastic surgeon removed the disgusting mass. He said it might come back, but thank goodness it didn't although I do still have a scar.

I've heard about folks who could remove warts all my life. I thought about going to see such a person for my weird growth but since it wasn't really a wart and I was at the doctors office practically every single week I let them take care of it. 

The most common methods of magically removing warts are related to rubbing, buying, and counting. Here are two examples straight from the mouths of two long time Blind Pig readers.

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Garland Davis:

I had numerous warts on my hands. Everyone told me that they were caused by playing with toads and letting them piss on your hands. I remember thinking that wasn't right. I knew that I hadn't touched any toads. I remember trying to keep my hands in my pockets so that people wouldn't see my warts. My parents tried any number of homemade potions to no avail. Some things from the drugstore were tried, but again no remedy for my warts. I remember going to the doctor and him telling them that I was too young to have them "burned" off.

We carried my 'Granny' Salmons to Yadkin County one Sunday afternoon to visit some friends. I remember that it was late in the day and Daddy was ready to leave. She told them to wait that she was going to take me to get my warts "witched". She led me for a long distance (probably not that far, but to a little boy, quite a distance) down a path through the woods. We eventually came to a log house. An old (again, old is relative to my age) woman came out and talked with my grandmother.

Granny gave her a sack that she had brought. The old lady sat me down on the stoop to the cabin door and started touching the warts on my hands. She then took a piece of cord and tied a number of knots in it (I later realized that she was counting the warts and tied a knot for each one.) She then hung the cord around my neck and led me by the hand around the yard. She then took the cord and went into the woods. She returned and told me that my warts would leave me to look for the cord. She said if I ever tried to find the cord all my warts would return. We left and went back home. Within a few days, all my warts, except one, disappeared. I still have that one wart on the knuckle of my ring finger and have had it my whole life. I always figured that she missed counting it.

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Miss Cindy:

When I was around 10 years old I had a wart on my left thumb. It was on the side of my thumb at the knuckle. The wart measured about 3/8 inch across. That's fairly large on a 10 year old hand. My folks took me to the doctor for removal. The doctor burned it off. It wasn't long till it came back, so it was back to the doctor. This time he cut it off but again, it came back.

My cousin, Zoolie also had a wart. Hers was on the thumb also but it was on the side growing partially into the nail. It was about the same size wart as mine. Her folks took her to a dermatologist. They were really concerned because of the way it grew into the fingernail. The dermatologist removed it several times, several different ways. Each time it grew back.

My dad finally said "enough, get in the car, both of you". He took us to an old man in Henson Cove above Canton, not too far from my grandmothers house. I think the man's name was Mr. Hall. He looked at both warts, rubbed them and sent us on our way.

I looked down a couple of weeks later and it was gone, I called Zoolie and her wart was gone as well.

I don't know what to tell you happened.....the warts were gone and never returned.

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When The Deer Hunter and I first met, he had two or three warts on his hand. After dating him for a few months I was so head over heels in love that I paid the warts no attention and didn't even notice they were gone until he pointed it out. He said he'd grown up hearing about folks getting their warts rubbed by someone with special powers-so every time he thought about it he rubbed his. In a few weeks they were gone. I still tease him about having magical wart removing powers.

Drop back by in a few days to read comments left on the original wart removal post I published in 2011.

Tipper

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Childhood Aliments

  Martins Creek School Pap's school photo

Martins Creek Elementary 1945 - Pap is the first boy in the second row on the left 

This school year has been especially hard on students in our area, there has been much sickness. It started back before Christmas and seems to still be making its way back and forth across the county. There was confirmed cases of flu, pink-eye, strep-throat, and a mean strain of stomach virus going on so fast and thick that three local schools shut down for a few days to let the germs settle and the students and staff get better.

There's almost always an outbreak or two of lice in schools each year. I remember being in the 6th grade when the health department came around to check. I always wore my hair in a pony-tail, but hadn't quite mastered the technique of putting it up myself. The lady took my hair down to look at my head. She never offered to help me put it back and of course Granny wasn't there to do it for me-I was mortified. 

Another illness or condition that was often talked about back in those days was the itch. I never knew anyone that had the itch, but every year it seemed there was a rumor about some poor kid having it. 

The only scratching I ever seen was done by folks who had been eat up by chiggers or caught poison oak from playing outside in the brushy areas. 

I suppose folks who truly had the itch actually suffered from scabies-which is an aggravating skin aliment caused by mites. 

The cures for the itch back in the days before modern medicine took over included:

  • boiling poke roots-and adding the brewed tea to your bathwater
  • slathering the body with lard-and in some cases sulfur was added to the lard
  • rubbing the body with kerosene

I've read accounts from folks who took the poke bath remedy, they said it felt like they'd been set on fire. I'm sure the kerosene method would feel the same. After submitting to any of the remedies mentioned it was customary to wear long handles afterwards to hold the medicine close to the skin.

I started writing this post about about the illnesses our local schools have endured this year and somehow went down the road of lice, scabies, and my own elementary days of going to school in the same big brick building Pap did.

The old building isn't there anymore, it burned to the ground a good 20 years ago, but the children who walked the creaky hallways and went outside to use the restrooms that were always cold still live in my mind. 

I can never hear about lice or the itch that I don't think of a girl from those days.

The girl was from a poor family-a family of kids who were often accused of having some contagious aliment. She was a good 4 years older than me if not more. One evening as we stood in the bus line she looked down at me and said "I know you're a witch cause your eyebrows are growed together." I didn't take offense to what she said, even then I knew well and good I had been blessed with Pap's thick eyebrows and I knew he certainly wasn't a witch. I think she regretted telling me about my eyebrows because she quickly added "Don't worry mine are growed together too."

If I could go back to that day I'd ask her who told her about eyebrows and witches and I ask her if they told her any other old sayings? And if I could go back, I hope I'd have the gumption to go out of my way to be nice to her and her siblings, because from this vantage point I can clearly see they lived in a drought when it came to showers of kindness. 

Tipper

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Tooth Jumper - Tooth Puller

Tooth jumper jumping teeth to pull them

tooth jumper, tooth puller noun An untrained dentist who uses a hammer and a nail to extract or cause a tooth to jump out. Cf tooth dentist.
1961 Seeman Arms of Mt 35 Imagine going to a mountain "tooth-jumper," who armed with hammer and nail and kept a pair of home-forged pliers handy! 1972 Cooper NC Mt Folklore 15 The tooth-puller and the tooth-jumper were known as Tooth Doctors. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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Jumping the tooth involved placing a chisel or other metal object at the base of the hurting tooth, just under the gum line. While holding the chisel in place the tooth jumper took a hammer and gave it a good hard tap. If it was a successful tap, the tooth jumped out of it's hole.

The process of jumping the tooth sounds so horrible it makes you wonder why anyone would even attempt the method. Here's an excerpt on tooth jumping from John Parris in These Storied Mountains:

But them that really knowed how to tooth-jump could pop a tooth out of a feller's head before you could wink an eye. It was just that quick. It had to be. If one lick didn't jump the tooth out it was all-night-ice-'em. For if the tooth didn't come out with that first lick a feller just went plumb crazy and had to be hog tied till the job was finished.

While thinking of pulling or jumping teeth without numbing is hard to fathom-I do know if you had a severe toothache eventually you'd be willing for someone to help you know matter how bad it hurt...at least I would. 

Tipper

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Meet Crystal Wilson

Wilderness Wildlife Week pigeon forge TN

Today I'm sharing an interview with another fascinating person I met at the Wilderness Wildlife Week back in May. 

Pigeon Forge has hosted Wilderness Wildlife Week for the last 25 years as a tribute to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its heritage. There are tons of presentations and workshops offered during the week-all FREE to the public. 

It's a great event for people who are interested in anything related to the Smoky Mountain National Park as well as the general area of East TN and Western NC.  The Deer Hunter and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope to attend the event again. If you want to plan ahead-next year Wilderness Wildlife Week will be held May 9 - 13.

Tipper Pressley and Crystal Wilson aka Mama Lucy Mountain Ways

Crystal and Tipper May 2016

If you've been reading the Blind Pig and The Acorn for a while you'll remember Chatter has become very interested in herbal medicine and natural beauty products over the last year. 

As I flipped through the brochure for the week and read the description for Crystal Wilson's presentation I told The Deer Hunter "We have to go to that one, Chatter would be mad if we didn't check it out for her. And the lady's a Wilson so hey I know she'll be good."

From the moment Crystal started talking I knew we'd picked the right session to attend. The Deer Hunter and I both immediately felt a connection to her. It was just like listening to someone sit on our front porch and talk to us about every day things.

I was so impressed and pleased that Crystal didn't try to hide her use of our colorful Appalachian language. If someone didn't understand what she meant, she explained it in a patient kind manner and then continued on with her teaching. 

Mama Lucys Mountain Ways - Crystal Wilson

Check out the interview I did with Crystal. 

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Where are you from?

I grew up in Southwest Virginia. For the last 21 years, we have lived on our mountain homestead in the foothills of the Smokies.

Does your family have a long history in Appalachia?

I am a seventh generation Appalachian. Both my Mommy's people and my Daddy's came from the old country and pretty much stayed here. 

How did you start using herbs to treat your family and others?

I have pretty much always used herbs. It is just what I do. Daddy taught me plants. We decided when we bought this place to grow mountain medicine and that is what we did.

I liked the explanation you gave about certain plants being white men's footprints because they were brought from over the ocean by settlers who knew about their uses and wanted to make sure they had them here. Can you explain it to my readers like you did at the event and maybe mention an example or two?

We know women brought plants with them on the ships from England and Scotland. One example of that is Plantain. That's that broad leaf "weed" in your yard. It can soothe about anything from bee stings to upset stomachs. The Cherokee called it "White Men's Foot Prints." Another plant they brought was good ole Catnip. I believe every mountain Granny has given Catnip to a colicky baby!

What other role does your farm play in your life?

Our farm/our land is everything. It is truly a labor of love. When we bought it, it was a mess to say the least. There were no song birds, native plants, or barely any topsoil. All that has changed. Those things have returned. Now it grows food for my family and medicine for the community.

I know you sell herbs do you also sell produce or is that primarily for your family’s consumption?

No we do not sell produce. We try to grow and put by as much as we can for our family.

Since you’ve been growing herbs for medicinal purposes have you noticed an increase in awareness or desire for a natural way to heal or aid in curing sickness?

When we started 20 years ago, there wasn't a whole lot of interest in going back to the old ways of using herbs. The last little bit, folks have been more interested. You know everything old is new again? LOL!

Do you teach often? 

I have taught here at our place, in different places in the community, and conferences. I prefer to teach here. I like to get to know folks. I am teaching a series on vegetable gardening and one on makin your own apothecary here at our place in July.

How can folks find out about your classes?

Facebook is the best way to keep up with what we are doing:
https://www.facebook.com/mammalucysmountainways/ Also you can sign up for our newsletter at our website: www.mammalucy.com

How can folks find out more about your remedies that are available?

Most our remedies are listed on our website. My favorite thing to do is to make custom things for folks to make medicine just for them.

Can you name 5 things that come to mind when you think about the word Appalachia?

Hmm... five things when I hear the word Appalachia... home, home, home. Seriously, my home, my people, my language, my culture, my life.

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I hope you enjoyed meeting Crystal, her love for Appalachia shines through her lovely voice and her smiling face as she teaches others about medicinal plants. If you live close enough to attend one of her classes I highly encourage you to do so. And if you'd like to hear her lovely voice go listen to this

Tipper

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Additional Uses for Black Walnuts

Uses for black walnuts

"Ringworm is caused by various species of fungi. The most frequently reported remedy for ringworm in Southern Appalachia was a topical application of juice from green walnut hulls. A magical twist to this remedy involved applying the juice and then using a thimble to press several rings , probably three or nine, around the infected area. Some ringworm suffers recited the following charm while rubbing the bottom of an iron pot in a circle with and index finger moistened with their own saliva: "Ringworm round, ringworm red, ringworm die, to make (name of sufferer) glad."

Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia by Anthony Cavender pg 101.

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"Long, long ago in a place far away we used crushed walnut shells to clean jet engine turbine blades. It was easy. Very carefully toss handfuls of the granular shells into the air intake of the running engine. The shells were just coarse and hard enough to scour the (extremely expensive) fast spinning blades without damaging them. Of course, the shell residue went out with the exhaust."

George Pettie - November 2015

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"My ancestors, the Cherokee Indians used the walnut bark to dye their basket splints, carvings and used the nut meat to cook with in some dishes. My Mom told me that when she was a young girl living on Blue Wing (Soco) section of the Reservation that the women would beat up walnut hulls to make a pulp and would dam up the creek and put this in the creek water to make the fish come to the top of the water for air, then they would pick up the fish and put them in their baskets to take home to cook and eat. The squirrels bury them in my flower beds for the winter and the ones that come up in the spring and have leaves on them I break them off. I love the smell of the walnut."

Peggy Lambert - November 2015

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Tipper

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Jewelweed Blooms

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in 2012.

Jewelweed in appalachia

Jewelweed grows in a ditch at the bottom of my driveway. Generally the plants grow in shady damp places and can reach 2-3 feet tall. The juice of the plant is said to be a natural cortisone and is an old time remedy for poison oak, poison ivy, bee stings, and bug bites.

Jewelweed for posion oak

Jewelweed is sometimes called Wild Touch Me Not-because once the plant begins to produce seed pods the slightest touch will send seeds flying in all directions.

Jewelweed is a wild impatient

According to my favorite old book about wildflowers, Wildflowers Worth Knowing by Neltje Blanchan, Jewelweed is also called Spotted Touch Me Not, Silver Cap, Wild Balsam, Lady's Eardrops, Snap Weed and Wild Lady's Slipper.

Blanchan also has this to say about the plants:

Distribution--Nova Scotia to Oregon, south to Missouri and Florida.

These exquisite, bright flowers, hanging at a horizontal, like jewels from a lady's ear, may be responsible for the plant's folk-name; but whoever is abroad early on a dewy morning, or after a shower, and finds notched edges of the drooping leaves hung with scintillating gems, dancing, sparkling in the sunshine, sees still another reason for naming this the Jewel-weed. In a brook, pond, spring, or wayside trough, which can never be far from its haunts, dip a spray of the plant to transform the leaves into glistening silver. They shed water much as the nasturtiums do.

Jewelweed is medicinal

Jewelweed is a plant I've been familiar with my whole life. When I see the striking orange blooms I'm reminded of small children placing their hands in mine to go for a walk.

I was one of those little girls who was born wishing she was a Mother. I loved my baby dolls more than some folks love their children-sad but true. I was no more than 12 when I started babysitting. I had a natural instinct when it came to entertaining kids-one of my never fail secret weapons was to take them on a walk. If Jewelweed and its rocketing seed pods were in season-it made the walk all the better.

I wish I could see far back enough in time to know who taught me about Jewelweed and its entertaining seeds pods but I can't. I'd like to think it was Pap's Mother since I stayed with her when I was small but I can't say for sure.

I can say for sure, she walked the same paths I do.

Tipper

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Earache Remedies

Earache remedies from appalachia

A few weeks ago Blind Pig reader Bobby Dale, sent me the following question:

"Hi Tipper,
Just wondering if you have heard in your mountain venue the medical treatment of blowing smoke in one's ear to cure an earache? I've practiced medicine for 40 years in MS and OH. I had an elderly patient tell me this morning that her father used to doctor her earache by blowing smoke in her ear. I've never heard that one before.
Best!
Bobby Dale"

I wrote Bobby Dale back and said YES I have heard of blowing smoke in someone's ear to relieve or cure an earache.

I've only had 2 earaches in my lifetime. The first was when I was between 5 and 8 years old. Pap smoked Prince Albert cigarettes in those days, but I don't remember if he blew smoke in my ear or not. What I do remember was the pain that made me roll around on Granny's couch and bawl.

The next earache came when I was 18 years old. Pap and I had been sick on and off all winter long. I was out running around with friends one Saturday night when my ear started hurting. By morning, I was pacing the hall holding my ear. After Pap got home from church him and Granny took me to the ER where I bawled like a baby, paced some more, and waited for someone to see me. When the doc said the infection was so bad my eardrum would likely burst I started a new round of crying. He quickly explained it would heal itself and I would still be able to hear. He also said my pain would stop immediately. My eardrum burst on the way to the drug store and the doc was right I had instant relief from my pain.

Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia by Anthony Cavender has an entire entry about earaches and the remedies people used to cure them.

According to Cavender, most folks thought cold air going into the ear is what caused the ache. Makes sense since cold air does make your ear hurt for a little while if you're out in it for any length of time without a toboggan or earmuffs. 

Cavender said since folks believed cold, was the culprit, they tried to warm the ear up by blowing smoke in it or pouring warmed liquid in the ear. The following cures were listed in the earache entry of Cavender's book:

  • pouring warm urine into the ear
  • dripping sap from a warmed sapling into the ear
  • dripping warm sweet oil in the ear (I've actually seen this one used and it did seem to help the pain. I believe it is still a fairly common remedy in my part of Appalachia.)
  • blowing smoke into the ear
  • placing a warm compress on the ear area (this one is common here and beyond I'm sure)

I shared Bobby Dale's question with Pap and asked him what remedies he remembered from childhood.  

Pap said, "They told me I liked to have died from an earache when I was about 3 years old. I don't remember it. But they said they got a little bundle of sourwood limbs and set them in the fireplace. Not where they'd burn up, just where they'd get good and hot. Then they caught the sap that came out of the wood and poured it in my ear." I remember people blowing smoke in ears too and even cupping the ear with a glass to try and keep the smoke inside. Some people swore by putting warm buttermilk mixed with sodie in their ear when they had an earache. And of course I've used plain old peroxide to clean mine out good."

Home remedies seem to be making a comeback. Not the urine in the ear type of remedies-but natural herbal remedies are on the rise in my neck of the woods. 

Tipper

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Flu In Western NC

Flu in Western NC

The Flu has played havoc here Cherokee County over the last 2 months. There were so many children sick with the flu that they let school out early before Christmas vacation in hopes the sickness would subside before the 2015 school year started. 

One of my fellow employees had the flu over Christmas. She thought her household was done with winter sickness until her husband tested positive for the flu just last week.

Ever since I had the flu in 2009 I've been overly paranoid about getting it again. I wash my hands a gazillion times at work each day and I've been taking elderberry to beef up my immune system along with my usual vitamins for the last 2 months. 

In today's world, modern medicine can at least ease the pain of having the flu by lowering your temperature and helping ease body aches. But when I think of the spread of the flu my mind always goes to the 1918 flu epidemic-a time in history when the family medicine cabinet did not hold over the counter fever reducers.

In 1918 The NC Board of Health offered the following advice about the Flu Epidemic:

"Influenza and What You Should Know About It," Bulletin of the North Carolina Board of Health, 33:5 (1918), pp. 38–39.

 

How and Where Influenza is Spread

  1. By careless spitting, coughing, sneezing, and using the same drinking vessel or towel others have used. The disease germs are carried in the spittle and in the little drops of secretion from the nose and throat.
  2. In crowds and public gatherings, churches, schools, picture shows, business houses, fairs, circuses, trains, or in any other places where people congregate. Soda fountains are especially dangerous if they do not supply individual sanitary cups and sterilized spoons.

How to Keep Away From Taking Influenza

  1. Keep away from crowds, especially indoor gatherings.
  2. Avoid people who cough, sneeze and spit without holding a handkerchief over the nose and mouth.
  3. Do not use common drinking cups or towels, and keep away from the soda fountain that does not supply individual cups and sterilized spoons.
  4. Keep the bowels open. Snuff Vaseline up the nose three times a day. Gargle mouth and throat and rinse out nose with warm salt water, using a level teaspoonful of salt to a glass of warm water. Sleep and eat regularly. These are very important.
  5. Keep in the open air and sunshine as much as practicable and have good ventilation in the home and office. Sleep with your windows open.
  6. Wash your hands before eating and never put your unwashed hands in your mouth.
  7. Do not give the disease to others—when you sneeze or cough always bow the head and cover both the nose and mouth with handkerchief.

Symptoms of Influenza and What to Do if You Take It

  1. In most cases a person taken with influenza feels sick rather suddenly. He feels weak, has pains in the eyes, ears, head or back, and may be sore all over. Many patients feel dizzy, some vomit. Most of the patients complain of feeling chilly, and with this comes a fever in which the temperature rises to 100 degrees to 104 degrees. In most cases the pulse remains relatively slow.

    In appearance one is struck by the fact that the patient looks sick. His eyes and the inner side of his eyelids may be slightly bloodshot or congested. There may be running from the nose, and there may be some cough. These signs of a cold may not be marked; nevertheless the patient looks and feels very sick.

  2. If you have any of the above symptoms, go to bed at once and send for a doctor and follow his directions explicitly.
  3. If you cannot obtain a doctor at once, stay in bed with plenty of cover to keep you warm, open all the windows and keep them open, take medicine to open the bowels freely, and take nourishing food, as milk, eggs, and broth, every four hours.
  4. Allow no one else to sleep in the same room. Protect others by sneezing and coughing into cloths which can be boiled or burned.
  5. Stay in bed until a doctor tells you it is safe to get up; or, until you have been without a fever for at least four days.

What To Do After Recovering From an Attack of Influenza

  1. Influenza is a treacherous disease. If one is fortunate enough to escape pneumonia during or immediately following the attack, the lungs and respiratory system are frequently so inflamed that tuberculosis develops. The heart is overworked and needs rest. Therefore, do not return to work or leave home until you have regained your strength, whether it is a week or a month.
  2. If complete recovery does not take place within two weeks, have your family physician carefully and thoroughly examine every vital organ and function of the body. Follow instructions the doctor may give you after such an examination.

Taken from NC Digital Collection.

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Much of the advice given by the NC Board of Health in 1918 would still be good advice today-I'm not so sure about the sniffing of Vaseline though. It is true sickness can hit you quickly. When the girls were little and a stomach virus infiltrated our home-it would show it's ugly head in both girls within a matter of hours.

Unless folks lived in cities or towns I doubt they would have even heard about the NC Board of Health's advice-much less read it. Families who lived in rural areas of Western NC and beyond relied on oldtimey Medicninal Remedies and a good deal of faith to get through the sicknesses that sometimes blindsided their homes.

Before the Flu Epidemic of 1918 was over-it killed millions of people across the world. If you ever find yourself in an old graveyard look around for 1918 gravestones and you'll probably find quite a few. I've noticed them throughout the old graveyards in the Smoky Mountain Park as well as the ones in my neck of the woods. The flu making itself known in the mountains of east TN and western NC was proof the outside world had reached one of the most isolated regions in the US. 

Hoping the flu has by-passed your household this year and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it by-passes mine too. 

Tipper 

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