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In previous columns, I have mentioned the fact that my grandmother Narcissa Graham Ferrell Murray made elixir to sell that would cure all manner of illnesses.
I have a little flyer that she had made and distributed by hand as well as in the newspaper at that time. It was an amazing thing to read how many folks had their lumbago and rheumatism aches and pains go away completely after taking her elixir.
I have also alluded to the fact that my dad followed in her footsteps by never going to the doctor unless a limb was broken or someone was deathly ill in his opinion. He could come up with some strange concoctions to work his miraculous wonders on croup, sprained arm, etc., but one truly “named” product sticks out in my mind, no let’s make that three.
The best cure-all in the world was Campho-Phenique. It came in a little green bottle and smelled to high heaven, but, if you fell down and had a scraped knee or wrenched a finger back, bumped yourself and just knew there would be a bruise, you reached for this wonder product.
I remember when my brother Keith was about 10, he had his bike on our front porch (large porch by today’s standards) and it rolled backwards, taking him off the porch into a rather large bush at the end of the porch. As he was falling (this is the truth, cross my heart), he yelled out, “Get the Campho-Phenique!”
Another great named product was Watkins products. There was a man who went through the countryside selling these products out of his car. I remember a particular ointment that came in a metal can that was red and gold striped that Daddy used on burns. There was another menthol camphor product that was used (when we had no Vicks Vapo-Rub on hand) to smear on your chest when you had a cough or on your throat if you had a sore throat. But the best Watkins product that I remember was lemon meringue pie filling. Oh my word, Mama made some of the best lemon pies with that.
The last product that we were never without was Syrup of Black Draught. My mouth turns wrong side out just thinking of that stuff. You were given that if you had anything that needed to be cleaned out of you, and you all know what I mean when I say those words. Many quick trips to that small building outside (two-seater with Sears catalog always handy) to take care of that particular problem.
These were the necessary home remedy products in my house. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if things were that simple now?
Jan Mills is The Enterprise’s customer service representative. Reach her at 252-478-3651 and firstname.lastname@example.org.