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  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Memory tickled by
itch of childhood ailments

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Most of the old childhood diseases are not around today, thanks to modern medical science.

During my early years, if my memory serves me right, I contracted chicken pox, measles, mumps, boils, whooping cough, croup and the itch. I missed getting head lice by a hair.

I think all of these maladies, with the exception of bouts of the croup during the Dust Bowl storms, came after I started to school.

My brother Don, four years younger, has often complained that our practical-minded mother stuck him in bed with his diseased older brother so the family could eliminate the illnesses at a later date.

I have always loved to read, so I accepted each illness courageously and caught up on my reading. I do recall my bout with the red measles was a bad experience as I hurt all over for hours.

The mumps episode came a jaw at a time, during which I suffered little but stayed in bed for days.

Later, my father and a hired man came down with the mumps in both jaws at the same time and suffered horribly. I remember having to do all the chores for days.

I believe the itch was the worst of all. The disease wasn't so bad, but the treatment required that the victims take a hot bath, (in a galvanized tub of course,) dry off and apply a thick coating of an evil-smelling gunk all over your body.

You then donned long handles and socks and wore creosote-smelling stuff for several days and nights. After an eternity, all was cleansed with soap and water and, hopefully, the itch was cured.

Doctor Kengle must have imported barrels of the gunk, as every student I knew contracted the disease.

Today, I doubt anyone knows what adenoids and tonsils are, but they caused me a lot of trouble at one time. After Doctor Kengle removed both, along with a big wad of bubble gum, my health improved considerably.

With colds, mother was a Vicks believer and heated spoonfuls of the salve over kerosene lamp chimneys to spread over my throat and chest.

This was followed by a hot Vicks-covered rag stuck to my chest and pinned to my long handles with safety pins.

I hated to get sick at Grandma Trew's house for she preferred generous applications of Mentholatum, doses of castor oil, with a dash of coal oil added.

I loved the lady but dreaded her remedies.

My case of chicken pox started outside, then turned inside my body, causing a lot of pain. Seems like I bathed in cold baking-soda water to help the pain.

Everyone in the family eventually contracted the disease except mother. She came from a big family and seemed immune to each malady.

I'm sure that at times she felt she was a war-zone nurse.

I survived all and finally reached maturity where I have enjoyed good health for over 50 years. However, there was a time when I caught everything that came along.


Delbert Trew

"It's All Trew" - May 1, 2005 column
 
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