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CHUCK HINMAN: Time changes things

IT'S JUST ME AGAIN, Chuck Hinman #120, Time Changes Things
The next earlier Chuck Hinman story is "Pills, Pills, Pills" Reader comments to CM are appreciated, as are emails directly to Mr. Hinman at: charles.hinman

By Chuck Hinman

Time Changes Things
Man, you can say that again, especially if you have been around for 85 years like I have. For example, how many of your great grandchildren are home from school for 2 weeks (or more) with the measles; or who of those kids are quarantined along with their families with the highly contagious smallpox, mumps or chickenpox. I would guess the answer is "not one"!

People our age lived before a vaccine was developed to prevent your getting these diseases. Your school teacher brought your (and your siblings) books to your home and your Mom became your teacher for a couple of weeks. Your front door was posted with a big red sign warning visitors to stay away -- there are sick people inside with a contagious disease!

Another thing that has changed is the frequency of doctor's office visits and prescriptions written. I probably could count on one hand the number of times I was in a doctor's office in the first 20 years of my life. A sneeze or the sniffles was NOT worthy of a visit to the doctor's office or going to the pharmacy with a hand full of prescriptions. The only "medicine" in our medicine cabinet was a can of Watkins or Raleigh salve, bottles of iodine, mercurochrome, and Vicks ointment.

If we had a bad-bad cold in the winter, at bedtime Mom greased our chests with Vicks. She then covered our chests with strips of cotton flannel. That was held in place inside our long-johns. The fumes and the burning sensation on our skin made us WANT to get well! Later Mom told us Doctors never ascribed any medical value to this "witchcraft medicine" but what do they know? This had been practiced for generations in the Hinman family.

We went barefoot in the summertime and frequently stepped on a nail. We never heard of tetanus. We soaked our foot in hot water. Mom doused the wound with iodine (OUCH), daubed it with salve and wrapped it with strips of a bed-sheet that had seen better days. I don't know how we escaped infections unless we were just too ornery!

We had our share of cat scratches, bee and wasp stings, bunged-up knees and elbow from falling off our bicycles, but nothing "Dr. Mom" couldn't fix.

We never had braces to straighten our teeth. Our small town dentist drilled out our cavities with a foot-powered drill. I appreciate improvements in dental equipment as much as anyone but in defense of Dr. Gleeton and his antiquated equipment, I have more than one half of my original teeth, a little crooked but no one knows if I keep my mouth shut.

Tonsils were removed in the Doctor's office, not the hospital. It was no big deal and the tonsils were presented to you in a bottle of formaldehyde for not crying.

Time has changed many other medical practices in our lifetime. These few will give you something to reminisce over at dinner with your old friends.

PS - I stand corrected. An early response to my story 120 -- Time Changes Things. I had mentioned four "medicines" always found in the Hinman medicine cabinet such as Watkins salve, iodine, Vicks, etc. This reader said I intentionally fibbed and left out the most important of all cough remedies -- that being a 5th of Jack Daniels (booze for you Baptists). She said it was well known to cut the "crud" better than anything and made it a joy to be "coming down" with something. Another reader said I left out Epsom Salts that was good for everything including cleaning white wall tires?? Ye gads -- I didn't know that! Thanks for your responses. -- Chuck Hinman
Written by Chuck Hinman, Tallgrass Estates, He began to write his memories for his kids when he was eighty and in 2005 he self-published his book "It's Just Me," a collection of seventy-five of his stories. He has written more than one hundred stories since.

This story was posted on 2009-04-12 07:11:58
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