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Old Remedies Die Hard


By Ellie Behman

Back in the 40s and 50s, any illness that mom faced fell prey to her good old  home remedies. If I started to get the sniffles she was prepared with hot tea and lemon or her homemade raspberry syrup. We loved that syrup so much that we were happy to have an excuse to drink it.

Mom was as reassuring as the best doctor we could have visited. Many of her cures consisted of lots of garlic and other neat remedies. Sore throat? Rub some garlic on toast. Onset of the flu? Bring on more hot tea and tasty syrup.  Bad cough? Mom’s chicken soup always did the trick. Cold and shivers? Mom would heat a brick in hot coals, wrap it well and place it in our bed for instant warmth.

Although most of Mom’s remedies were her original recipes, she did make an exception with Vicks Vaporub. When I ended up with a cold, cough and congestion, she heated up a kettle of water, put scoops of Vicks in it and placed a towel over my head and kettle so I could breathe in the healing vapor. Vicks was invented in 1905 and when the Spanish flu hit the U.S. From 1918-1919 Vicks Vaporub sales skyrocketed from $900,000 to $2.9 million in just one year. Although we didn’t have a lot of over the counter medications, Mom was open minded enough to recognize a good, dependable product available at the pharmacy.  Vicks was a staple in our medicine chest for years and years. She knew what worked even if it wasn’t her homemade concoction..

One of the most interesting ideas Mom had was when she rubbed our necks and chest with goose grease and garlic. She would then place a soft cloth or shirt on top and the next day we felt considerably better. The aroma lasted longer than the cold, so it was amazing  had any friends left.

Yes, old remedies die hard but the results speak for themselves. I know there are thousands of choices today when colds and fevers hit but there is something to be said for Mom’s homemade cures. They worked and the bonus that came with them was worth the illness: Mom’s love.

Ellie has been a freelance writer for more than 40 years and has written over 400 articles.      She and her  husband spend as much time as possible at their cabin where they enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area.  This is where the majority of her writing is done as it is the perfect quiet setting for a writer.


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