Old-Time Cold Remedies

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, November 6, 1911: It rained nearly all day and I had no rubbers along at school and Pa didn’t come for me either. I didn’t like the idea of walking home, but there was no alternative. Such a day of tribulations as it was, also had a time with the cows getting them to go where I wanted them to go. Have a cold now.

Recent rainy day at the building that once housed the McEwensville School.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Yuck— It sounds like Grandma had a rough day.  First she got soaked coming walking home from school; then she had to deal with contrary cows. By the time she wrote this diary entry—probably in the evening—she was sick.

I wonder how Grandma treated her cold symptoms.  Here are some old-time central Pennsylvania remedies:

Cough syrup: Mix together 1 tablespoon each of whiskey, glycerin, honey, lemon. Give 1/2 teaspoon for young ‘ums, 1 teaspoon for adults.

For sore throat: Take equal parts of honey and vinegar, gargle often.

For sore throat: Gargle with warm salt water several times a day. DO NOT swallow the salt water!

Recipes, Reminiscence, & Remedies: Mooresburg Bicentennial Cookbook (2006)

These old remedies are from a cookbook that was published by the bicentennial committee of a town about 20 miles from McEwensville, and are probably similar to the remedies that Grandma might have used.

8 Tips for Retaining Good Health, Circa 1911

January 10, 1911: Missing entry (Diary resumes on January 12)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later: 

I’ll give you a little more contextual information today since there is no diary entry.

In 1911 many families had a few general reference books–one such book generally was the Almanac and another was the Compendium of Every Day Wants: A Thousand and One Facts. The book contained information that ranged from grammar rules, to sample civil marriage forms, to recipes, explanations of who is responsible for runaway horses, and treatments for medical emergencies.

Nature demands that we oby her laws, and it is much easier and much less expensive to try, by proper care of ourselves, to retain good heatlh than it is to cure many ailments which come from abusing our bodies.

Compendium of Every Day Wants: A Thousand and One Facts

The chapter on How to Preserve Health had the following tips:

  • Be regular; have a certain time to go to bed and a certain time to get up–it is not the amount of sleep, but the regularity which the mind and body need.
  • Eat nothing but plain food; be temperate in all things.
  • Take plenty of outdoor exercise.
  • Keep clean inside and out–bath often the entire body; drink plenty of good, fresh water.
  • Don’t be afraid of work, but do not worry about it; it is not work, but worry that kills.
  • Keep the mind free from evil thoughts.
  • Follow an honest calling.
  • Live within your means.

If the above is heeded, much suffering will be saved and few doctors will be needed.

Compendium of Every Day Wants: A Thousand and One Facts