Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Story Evolves

I have always been fascinated by the turn of the 20th Century living. When librarian-poet, Diane Mayr, posted her topic for Day 22 of Laura Shovan's 9th Annual February Poetry Project, I immediately started to research what medicine was like during past eras. As a collector of antique and vintage items, I was eager to find out more about Lydia  E. Pingham and her vegetable compound. While digging into more articles, I started reminiscing on  research-based projects on daily life in New York State that I offered students. The goal of one of the cross-curricular mini-units was to recreate an old-fashioned apothecary counter filled with antique medicine bottles for a county-wide celebration.  The elementary building I worked in became a living village featured as a stop on the county tour. 

Castor Oil

Spirit of Figs

Cod Liver Oil

Blood Purifier

Bottles weathered

By time

Lined the shelves

Each promising

A dose of health

For human ailments.

Strong medicinal smells

Led curious minds to uncover 

Quackery or modern miracles.

©CV, 2021


Today is Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers.

Join me as I gear up for Day 23's daily poetry prompt

and the March SOLSC #SOL21 Challenge.


  1. I had to laugh as I looked at this list of folk remedies. My OB-GYN (old school guy) had me take castor oil to try to induce labor with my firstborn. All it did was give me diarrhea. What fun for students to create a living village from the past.

    1. What a story! Diarrhea is not a good by product when you are ready to deliver. It is amazing how old remedies were embraced as modern miracles. Have a great time at your Root Tech Conference. I did register just so I could see sessions in the future at my own time. Thanks, Ramona.

  2. The connections your post brings go little further back than 20th century: a medieval pharmacy is a tourist (once they were here) attraction in Tallinn. One of the famous Estonian book series (now made into a movie) is about a pharmacist detective in Medieval Tallinn. One more: when I had a foreign exchange student living with us thirty years ago and he got a temperature, my mom made him vodka socks.

    1. I love the facts that you shared with me, Terje.

  3. Love this list, Carol. Weren't leeches used for things as well? Was castor oil a cure all for many ailments?

    1. Yes, leeches were used as disgusting as that was. I remember my Nonnie promoting Castor oil. I ran away from the spoon when that was mentioned.

  4. I can smell that scent-sharp and a bit herbal. I never had to take castor oil, thank goodness!

    1. A tried out a recipe from my childhood today. Sinus drip and slight cough can be remedied with a spoonful of honey (reminds me of Sound of Music-a spoonful of sugar).

  5. I so loved learning the backstory that came along with Diane's prompt. It shifted my thinking about quack medicines and feminism.