advent of warmer weather to the upper Texas
Gulf Coast ushers in various annual habits in some folk. With my mother it
meant it was time to give the house a good scrubbing and time to worm the kids.
She kind of took the idea of Spring cleaning to the extreme, I have always thought.
Now it's known that pinworms are endemic to that part of the country and I won't
bore, repel or nauseate the reader with their modes of transmission. Suffice to
say they are extremely common among younger children whose hygiene practices tend
to be slap dash without some adult supervision.|
Mama was a nurse which
may have accounted for her tendency to practice a good bit of preventative medicine,
a concept ahead of its time for the late 1940's and 1950's. She was equally diligent
about caring for our dogs, so I suppose I ought to be glad that she never mixed
up our medicine with their Sergeant's Worm Away capsules. Come to think of it,
though, maybe the active ingredients were the same. Dogs and humans acquire some
of the same little intestinal squirmers.
The earliest one I recall taking
was a small, round, deep red, sugar coated pill, which, when sucked on to enjoy
the sweet coating rather than swallowing it with water as you had been told to
do, uncovered a deep purple dye, as bitter as gall and it left permanent violet
stains on clothes when the patient/victim drooled to rid themselves of the nasty
taste. After that we seemed to get liquids, our favorite being a tasty, pale amber,
orange flavored syrup called Antepar. That lasted a few years and I don't think
we minded it at all.
Now, mind you, our mother never actually tested for
the presence of Uncle Wiggly and friends, or if she did, I don't remember it.
I think she worked on the assumption that we “most probably,” a phrase she favored
when she didn't want to commit to a definite yes, had the parasites in our little
entrails. Operating on the principle that an ounce of prevention was worth a pound
of cure aligned with dosage parameters, too, since the dose was calculated based
on weight. There was at least one occasion on which my brother Butch and I were
given something called Jayne's Vermifuge, but I don't recall anything about the
taste, color or effects. It might have been the last of some of the old patent
medicines before they were outlawed by the FDA, judging by the old fashioned sound
of the name.
The annual helminth harassment finally came to an end at
some point, probably in late grade school, and our mother wormed her way back
into our hearts for this. We were none the worse for it, and if there were any
wigglers left in our innards, she left them alone to row their teeny boats down
the alimentary canal in peace.
"True Confessions and Mild Obsessions"
April 7, 2013 Column
Related Topics: Mothers
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