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Hardman: Family Cures for What Ails You

Columnist tells family secrets to do dealing with the common cold.

Cough, cough, sniff, sniff.

I'm writing this column in pain from the cold, flu, infection or whatever I've had for the last month.

It's the bug that came for Halloween and stayed for Thanksgiving.

Yes, I've been to a doctor.

"Take this medicine and you will feel better by next Tuesday," he said.

It's Friday and I'm still in major coughing mode.

I know I'm not alone. I hear you coughing in the coffee shop or see you dealing with a runny nose.

Wait. I just had another major coughing fit.

I've been to my local pharmacy where it is stocked with rows and rows of stuff to help me, us, feel better.

Poppycock.

Your 24-hour cough relief doesn't work. I still have a stuffed-up nose or I lose my voice every 10 minutes or so.

Sorry, I just had another coughing fit.

When I was growing up, I don't ever remember being this sick for this long. It would be a day or two and then I would be back at full speed. I don't think I'm alone in that thought.

Granted, I had the advantage of growing up in a family of MDs. Both my dad and my mom were MDs, or mountain doctors, as they were technically referred to.

Normally, I wouldn't want to reveal their medical secrets. First, I don't know whether they are exactly legal, but I'm guessing a few of them aren't, in regards to child laws. Second, if my parents were alive, they might be deemed medical whackos, and the family name doesn't need that.

With my dad growing up in West Virginia and my mom being born in Nova Scotia in the early 1920s, there weren't exactly a CVS or Walgreens on every corner. Doctors came around on horseback or by carriage every once in awhile.

Wait, I'm coughing again.

My parents learned from my grandparents to make do with what they had to get better. All these "medical" cures were passed down from generation to generation, well, it had stopped at mine until this latest sickness. I'm reconsidering medical options.

Cough, cough, cough, cough.

When we would get colds, my dad would fill a glass with whiskey and then cover us with blankets. "You'll sweat it out," he would say. Of course, you would substitute a major cold for a major headache.

Fortunately, my mother had a pretty good remedy for a headache. She would get dark beer and crack a raw egg into it. After throwing up, you would feel better much.

Not all of my parents' cures relied on liquor, as some of them were just stuff you would find around the house.

Cough, cough, cough. Sorry, I'm hacking something up again.

For an upset stomach, my mom would put some peppermint in a cup of hot tea.

"This will sooth what is angering you," she’d say. Have a toothache, no problem, just get a glass of water and put some salt in it, and rinse.

My mom treated sore throats with honey.

For a chest cold, it was a mixture of mustard and some other smelly things. You were better quickly, but friends stayed away for a month or two.

Cough, cough, cough.

Sorry, I can't give you any more cures. It's time to take my medicine, not that I think it is really going to work.

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