Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

January 11, 1995, Page 20

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Oldies" Articles 



Good Old Days


By Dee Zimmerman


Along with winter season are the common colds and varieties of flu to be endured by most of us, sometime or other, each year.  Those ailments seem to be shared very easily.


Now, if we have a sore throat, cough or fever that is difficult to get rid of, we don’t hesitate traveling to the clinic for medical help from our family doctor.  Often, an antibiotic is prescribed and we keep on going knowing we will soon be well again.


Previous to the days of modern medicine, home remedies were relied upon to alleviate the discomforts of such illnesses, hoping for the best, in conquering the “bug.”


A turn-of-the-century home remedies book listed suggestions for treating certain ailments.


Bronchitis, Pleurisy – a mixture of camphor and lard should be rubbed on the chest of children, then wrap warm, dry flannel material around the chest and back.


Sore Throat – Apply cold applications to the throat or tonsils at the beginning and hot ones later.  An application of fat salted pork is also good.  Make a gargle of some simple remedy like salt, sage, vinegar, pepper or hot water.  Drink plenty of water, a little at a time, but frequently.


Colds, Coughs & Hoarseness – Use skunks oil, apply to the throat and lungs.  Sometimes it is given internally in small doses.


Earache – Hot, dry applications such as a hot salt bag or hot moist application of hops and vinegar, which are good.  Adults should use a bread and milk poultice with a little laudanum in it.  Hot bran can be effective when applied either dry or moist.


Hornet or Bee Stings – Apply hydrogen peroxide or vinegar, or apply a mud poultice made of clay and water after removing the singer.


Spider Bites – Apply a large slice of raw onion which irritates and stimulates the skin, causing the skin to discharge a fluid thus ridding the part with the local poison.


Lice – Kerosene will kill the pests.  Rub it over the parts thoroughly.  Equal parts of kerosene and lard are also good.


A Skin Cut – Apply wood ashes to stop bleeding – very effective for a horse that has been cut in a barbed wire fence.  Put some gun powder on a piece of cotton batting and bind upon the cut.  Put some lamp oil upon the cut.  A mixture of flour and salt in equal parts, bound upon the wound to stop bleeding. Finely powdered black tea leaves are the very best remedy when applied to a cut.


Blisters – Make a poultice of cabbage leaves.   Put them into warm water to soften and apply while warm.  It gives a very soothing effect.


Burns – Apply wood-soot and lard mixture, an ounce of soot with four ounces of lard spread on cotton batting, or apply equal parts of lime water and linseed oil to burns and cover with raw cotton.  Add a dram of finely powdered alum to a tea cupful of lard or Vaseline and mix thoroughly with the whites of two eggs.  Spread on a cloth and apply.


Frost Bite – Thaw out frozen portion of skin slowly, keep patient away from heat source.  First, rub the area with snow, then flannel and lastly with the hands, then bathe with witch hazel.


A Sprain – Take white of an egg, a large spoonful of salt and same amount of honey; beat them continually for two hours; let stand an hour and then anoint the sprained parts with the oil which comes from the mixture.


Pour hot water from a height of three feet upon the sprained parts, continue this treatment for an hour.


Herbs & Plants to be used:


Sweet Clover:  white or yellow blossom, tea made from the leaves and flowers is good for coughs.  It is also good to use in poultices, for swellings or inflammations.


Sage: Good for the summer complaint.  A combined sage gargle is made up of four ounces of alum, one ounce sage, 2 fluid ounces strained honey and 1 pint boiling water; good as gargle for sore throat.


Marigold: For cuts and wounds.


Garlic: Make a poultice to be used for the croup.


Caraway: Tea is made by adding 2 teaspoonfuls of the seeds to a pint of boiling water.  Do not boil the tea.  This tea is very good to give to babies who suffer with colic; it can be given freely.


And so the list goes on….every herb and nearly every plant was listed with some medicinal value.  The earlier times had only those remedies to turn to for help in illnesses.  To us, the above seems very primitive and difficult to understand because we rely on our trained medical staffs for diagnosis and recommendation of treatment.  I prefer the present day methods. 


Sixty years ago, Vick’s Vapor Rub was a must to be applied generously to one’s chest and back when you had a cold and cough.  There were the Vick’s Cough drops, or other brands such as F&F or Smith Brothers.  As a kid, I dreaded the Vick’s or F&F cough drops and had hiding places for them as soon as I could get out of my parents’ view.  After my dad realized what I was doing, having found one of my hiding places, I had to sit on his lap until the cough drop was fully dissolved in my mouth.  The Smith Bros. drops were more tolerable.  Remember the small box they came in with a drawing of the Smith Brothers in their Prince Albert coats, each wearing a beard.  The first variety of cough drop was of black with licorice flavor and later a red with cherry flavor.  My parents insisted those were too much like candy, which meant in their minds, they couldn’t have the medicinal value of those strong, sharp menthol tasting cough drops.


Another remedy when you got a cold as a child was to take cod liver oil.  Why did that taste so awful, too?  The first hint of the sniffles sent my mother for the medicine chest which contained a bottle of cod liver oil.  I was certain that made me get sick for sure.  It was decided that if my mom would put a tablespoon of that in a small glass of orange juice I wouldn’t taste it.  Ugh!  I could see the cod liver oil floating on top of the orange juice, so I was sure going to taste it – my mind was made up.


Then, if you had a fever, it was bed rest for three days.  A kid in bed for three days?  Once the fever subsided such as after the first day, it was difficult to stay in bed.  You might start doing cart wheels or using the bed as a trampoline, a sign you weren’t sick anymore.  Then you were told you could get out of bed, but no tearing around the house, find quiet things to do until the three days were through. 


Each of us have our childhood memories of “how it was, as a youngster,” including when we were sick with a cold or the flu.


We think in generalities, we live in detail. – Alfred North Whitehead



An actor is a sculptor who carves in snow. – Edwin Booth



Dr. R. Monk


Dr. R. Monk was a physician in Neillsville circa 1910 thru 1928.  He also served as a state senator during his residency here.



Dr. Arne Matheson


Dr. Arne Matheson first located in Manitowoc County.  He graduated from

Iowa University in 1892 and afterward, set up a practice here (Neillsville, WI).



A medical team, Drs. Sarah and Milton Rosekrans practiced their professions in Neillsville for a number of years.  Dr. Sarah, a native of Connecticut, met Dr. Milton at the University of Minnesota.  Dr. Milton, growing up in the rural setting, near Hixton, was drawn back to his home area, settling in Neillsville to start his practice in 1929.  Dr. Sarah began her practice at Houston, Minn.  After a time she came to Neillsville, practicing in conjunction with Dr. Milton.  At one point in her career she worked with another doctor in Illinois for a short duration.  She was a very accomplished vocalist, performing in Chicago musicals.  Dr. Milton enjoyed the outdoor activities of hunting and fishing.  (For many years their office was above the J. C. Penney’s store.)


Dr. Sarah passed away in 1970 and Dr. Milton in 1973.  Many area residents fondly remember them, having been their patients and friends through the years.



Sniteman Pharmacy was one of the earliest drug stores in the city. 

Started by C. C. Sniteman, the store still carries his name.  Dave Perry was a pharmacist at the store for many years, he is in the above photo.



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