Another Back-In-The-Day…When medicines were not advertised, just prescribed by doctors…When doctors could safely spend more time on house calls than in their offices…And people were more accustomed to home remedies than using OTC and proscribed medicines.

The Old Hand

Mom’s medicines were fairly normal for the times, Vicks, aspirin, iodine, and lots of TLC. She forced us to swallow a daily dose of cod liver oil as a preventive medicine. Dad, though, had two items that he believed were the most important first-aid items ever made, namely a tin of carbolic salve and a bottle of horse liniment. These products were delivered to the house by the Watkin’s Man, a contemporary of the Fuller Brush Man, and precursor of the Avon Lady. Dad made sure we always had a supply of both medicines in the house and in the barn.

The carbolic salve came in a tin that resembled an oversized hockey puck. It was hard to get the cover off the first time; but you just rubbed a little of the salve on the inside rim of the cover, and it came off like a breeze afterwards. It was a Swiss Army knife of medicines. A cut on a fetlock, a festering harness sore, just slather a glob of carbolic salve on. A skinned knee, a boil on the butt, slather a glob of carbolic salve on.

A family down the road used axle grease for the same purpose. Both products had the same origins, dinosaurs, dead for eons. But the carbolic salve had a strong medicinal odor that lent assurance that it was working.

But it’s odor didn’t compare with the pungent perfume of the horse liniment. That had the potency to mask even the everyday fragrances of the barn. Whew! If man or beast had aching muscles, just rub in the liniment. Not only did it ease the ache, it gave you plenty of elbow room at school. It also worked to cure a horse of a croupy cough, although getting it down it’s throat was a real chore.

And then there was the times that us kids had a croupy cough… Dad made a horse liniment toddy: hot water, a dose of liniment, and lots of spoonfuls of sugar. Mom always pointed out that the label said it was not for human consumption. Dad always countered with, it’ll cure what ails ’em, and put a little hair on their chests. My brothers and I always protested because it had a terrible taste. My sister always cried because she didn’t want hair on her chest. Now I don’t know if it was because of it’s medical value, or because of the threat of having to drink another toddy if the cough persisted; but it worked.

Pub 1/20/12, St.Paul Pioneer Press


Just checked the Watkins web site. Both products are there for the buying if interested.

The old timers around the village had other favorite remedies. The women favored reciting the rosary with the sick person…’Wake up, we only got two more decades to go’… The men favored a pint of blackberry brandy from Judge Shanno’s liquor store. ‘After chores you kill the jug, climb in bed under a couple quilts, and sweat it out overnight. Might not always cure you but you’ll have good dreams.’

WARNING: These friendly tips are for use only in those olde tyme illnesses and should not replace the words to live by today, hunker down, wash your hands, and keep a Social Distance from everyone.



model aThere was a time when you encountered a bad driver, you would holler, ‘Where’d you get your driver’s license? Out of a Cheerios box!

It wasn’t far off. Before written or driving tests came to being, you just filled out the blank license, paid a quarter or so, and you had a bona fide driver’s license.


Eva, a distant cousin, never drove a car, got her license in the old fashion way, and mailed in her money every time the license was about to expire. When her husband died, she either had to drive or walk to get around. Since she was too old to walk very far, she just got in the old car and  drove. After all she had a valid license.

She drove slow,( very slow), and as careful as she could. She never got into an accident. But then too, we recognized the car and made sure we kept out of her way.


The Old Hand:

I am so old I remember when rush hour traffic was a few hours in the morning and a few in the late afternoon. Not twenty four hours like it is now. I remember when the phrase ‘going a mile a minute’ meant you were speeding. Today it means you are probably slowing traffic down.

I remember when the rule of thumb was a distance of one car length for every ten miles per hour. Today it’s probably one for every 55 mph. Since bad drivers abhor a vacuum, leaving too much space is an invitation for someone to crank the wheel sharply and cut into your lane.

I remember when you signaled your driving intentions by rolling down the window and extending your forearm. Extended up for a right turn. Straight out for a left turn. Downward meant a slowdown or a stop. It’s so much easier today with blinkers. So why do only half the drivers use them? The traffic weavers are the worst. In their efforts to cut off every car in sight, they cause people hit the brakes, blow the horn, and give the one-finger signal.

Most of today’s drivers went to driving school and took tests, and then too many of them forgot their lessons as fast as they forgot their high school algebra. I am not romanticizing by saying the percentage of today’s bad drivers is any larger than yesterday’s. I’m just pointing out that there is much more cars on the roads today and they go much faster then yesterday’s, especially when they decide to cut you off. So please do some thinking while driving, the life you save maybe your own, or mine. And we’ll all arrive at our destinations in better moods.

Published 4/1/11 SPPP Bulletin Board


The Old Hand:

I watched a man trying to back his SUV into a parking space at the mall. There was at least six spaces empty on either side of the space he wanted. He tried about five times, finally just left it. One half of the SUV was in one space, the other half was in the space next to it. I noticed both spaces were posted for ten minute parking only. Since he was parked in two spaces, does that mean he can park there for twenty minutes?


I have a hard time understanding what is accomplished by backing into parking space. You might get out faster but since it takes the average driver seesawing back and forth about three, four times, whatever you gain in time on the exit, you’ve lost on the entrance by a long ways. And then if you want to put groceries etc., in the trunk, you probably have to pull the vehicle ahead. I saw a customer with van at a big box store loading plywood after he had parked backwards in the space. He had to actually pull the van into the driving lane, blocking any other vehicle from using the lane. He got the plywood loaded but he also caused a lot of horns to be honked and fingers to be waved.


I always get a leery whenever I see somebody back into a parking space when there is a bank close by. Is it because the driver might want to make a quick getaway?

Published 7/14/13, SPPP, Bulletin Board


The Old Hand:

Since my wife doesn’t drive, and I don’t shop, I spend a lot of time in nice weather sitting in the car, read a little, snooze a little, observe the life of the parking lot. I see children mistaking the it for a playground, shoppers, with full carts, blindly believing in the right-of-way of pedestrians, and drivers whose only focus is finding a parking space. I see a lot of accidents waiting to happen.

A few lots have speed bumps in their entrance lanes to help counter some of these potential accidents.. Most drivers see the bump, slow down, ease over it, and maintain a sensible rate of speed. Some don’t notice the bump and go flying over it. It’s amazing how, when their tires return to the road, and their right hands can no longer hold onto the steering wheels, their left hands always manage to keep holding the cell phones tight against their ears.

But the drivers that really make me shake my head are those that avoid the bump altogether. They speed up, pull into the wrong lane, then quickly get back into the correct lane once they are past the bump. Such a shame when something that is meant to promote safety becomes an excuse to drive stupidly. But then, some people don’t need an excuse to be stupid when they get behind a wheel, it’s just second nature.

So when you go into a store parking lot, remember the warning of the sergeant  the sgtin Hill Street Blues and ‘be careful out there’, and when you leave the lot, be extra careful out there.

Published SPPP, Bulletin Board 4/23/09

There’s so many advantages of a car over a horse and buggy, but there’s one disadvantage. If the driver of the horse and buggy didn’t have much common sense, at least the horse did.