18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Monday, December 8, 1913: Had to help Daddy with his work today. He has a sore back and can’t do much.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Oh dear, I hope your father isn’t in too much misery. A backache can be so, so painful.
You must have a soft spot in your heart for your father when he’s ill. You generally refer to him as Pa, but I see that today you called him Daddy.
Often when I start researching a post, I’m amazed by how much information I find. Today isn’t one of those days.
I thought that it would be easy to find information in hundred-year-old books about how treat backaches—but I found very little.
I got a 1913 book out of the library called When to Send for the Doctor and What to do Before the Doctor Comes. It had information about sore throats, fevers, sick stomachs, and bowel troubles—but nothing about backaches.
I then pulled out a 1911 book called Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women –even though it was her father and not her mother with the backache—because it has lots of great health care information. And, I again came up short. Nothing about backaches–just some information about posture, rounded shoulders, and curvature of the spine.
Finally, I got out my copy of The Compendium of Every Day Wants (1908). It didn’t have detailed information, but I finally found some liniments and ointments for “lame back.” For example, here are directions for making a liniment that could be used to “bath” the sore area:
Mix 1/3 pound of cayenne pepper with 1 pint of pure alcohol.
Today, there are lots of books with detailed information about treating backaches. I can’t figure out why I couldn’t find much in the hundred-year-old books. I’ll have to dig around some more, and if I learn more about old-time backache treatments I’ll tell you about them in a future post.