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From the Frugal Housewife, 1883

The writer has no apology to offer for this cheap little book of economical hints, except for her deep conviction that such a book is needed. In this case, renown is out of the question, and ridicule is a matter of indifference.

On Economy

Economy is generally despised as a low virtue, tending to make people ungenerous and selfish. This is true of avarice; but it is not so of economy. The man, who is economical, is laying up for himself the permanent power of being useful and generous. He who thoughtlessly gives away ten dollars, when he owes a hundred more than he can pay, deserves no praise,-he obeys a sudden impulse, more like instinct than reason : it would be real charity to check his feeling: because the good he does may be doubtful, while the injury he does his family and creditors is certain. True economy is a careful treasurer in the service of benevolence; and where they are united respectability, prosperity and peace will follow.

On Beggary

To what are the increasing beggary and discouraged exertion of the present period owing; A multitude of causes have no doubt tended to increase the evil; but the root of the whole matter is the extravagance of all classes of people. We shall never be prosperous till we make pride and vanity yield to the dictates of honesty and prudence! We never shall be free from embarrassment until we cease to be ashamed of industry and economy.

Note: Remedies and folk medicines of 1883 are not recommended for actual use. Some may be effective, while some may be toxic.

Simple Remedies

Cotton wool, wet with sweet oil and paregoric, relieves the ear-ache very soon.

A good quantity of old cheese is the best thing to eat when distressed by eating too much fruit, or oppressed with any kind of food for that matter. Physicians have given it in cases of extreme danger.

Honey and milk is very good for worms; so is strong salt water; likewise powdered sage and molasses taken freely.

For sudden attack of quincy or coup, bathe the neck with bear’s grease, and pour it down the throat.  A linen rag soaked in sweet oil, butter, or lard, and sprinkled with Scotch snuff, is said to have performed wonderful cures in cases of croup: it should be placed where the distress is greatest. Goose-grease, or any other kind of oily grease, is as good as bear’s oil.

Cotton wool and oil are the best things for a burn.

A poultice of wheat bran, or rye bran, and vinegar, very soon takes down the inflammation occasioned by a sprain. Brown paper, wet, is healing to a bruise. Dipped in molasses, it is said to take down inflammation.

In case of any scratch, or wound, from which the lockjaw is apprehended, bathe the injured part freely with lye or pearl-ash and water.

A rind of pork bound upon a wound occasioned by a needle, pin, or nail, prevents the lockjaw. It should be always applied. Spirits of turpentine is good to prevent the lockjaw. Strong soft-soap, mixed with pulverized chalk, about as thick as batter, put in a thin cloth or bag, upon the wound, is said to be a preventive to this dangerous disorder. The chalk should be kept moist, till the wound begins to discharge itself; then the patient should find relief.

If you happen to cut yourself slightly while cooking, bind on some fine salt: molasses is likewise good.

Flour boiled thoroughly in milk, so as to make quite a thick porridge, is good in cases of dysentery. A tablespoonful of rum, a tablespoonful of sugar-baker’s molasses, and the same quantity of sweet oil, well simmered together, is likewise good for this disorder; the oil softens the harshness of the other ingredients.

Black or green tea, steeped in boiling milk, seasoned with nutmeg, and best of loaf sugar, is excellent for the dysentery. Cork burnt to charcoal, about as big as a hazelnut, macerated, and put in a teaspoonful of brandy, with a little loaf sugar and nutmeg, is very efficacious in cases of dysentery and cholera-morbus. If nutmeg be wanting, peppermint water may be used, Flannel wet with brandy, powdered with cayenne pepper, and laid upon the bowels, affords great relief in cases of extreme distress.

Dissolve as much table salt in keen vinegar, as will ferment and work clear. When the foam is discharged, cork it up in a bottle, and put it away for use. A large spoonful of this, in a gill of boiling water, is very efficacious in cases of dysentery and colic.

Whortleberries, commonly called huckleberries, dried, are a useful medicine for children. Made into tea, and sweetened with molasses, they are very beneficial, when the system is in restricted state, and the digestive powers out of order.

Blackberries are extremely useful in cases of dysentery. To eat the berries is very healthy; tea made of the roots and leaves is beneficial; and syrup made of the berries is still belter. Blackberries have sometimes effected a cure when physicians despaired.

Loaf sugar and brandy relieves a sore throat: when very bad, it is good to inhale the steam of scalding vinegar through the tube of a tunnel. This should be tried carefully at first, lest the throat be scalded. For children, it should be allowed to cool a little.

A stocking bound on warm from the foot, at night, is good for the sore throat.

An ointment made from common ground worms, which boys dig to bait fishes, rubbed on the hand, is said to be excellent, when the sinews are drawn up by any disease or accident.

Balm-of-Gilead buds bottled up in rum, make the best cure in the world for fresh cuts and wounds. Every family should have a bottle of it. The buds should be gathered in a peculiar state; just when they are well swelled, ready to burst into leaves, and well covered with gum. They last two or three days in this state.

Plantain and house leek, boiled in cream, and strained before it is put away to cool, makes a very cooling, soothing ointment. Plantain leaves laid upon a wound are cooling and healing.

Half a spoonful of citric acid (which may always be bought of the apothecaries,) stirred in half a tumbler of water, is excellent for the head ache.

Water gruel, with three or four onions simmered in it, prepared with a lump of butter, pepper, and salt, eaten just before on goes to bed, is said to be a cure for a hoarse cold. Syrup made of horseradish root and sugar is excellent for a cold.

Very strong salt and water, when frequently applied, has been known to cure wens.

Nothing is so good to take down swellings, as a soft poultice of stewed white beans, put on in a thin muslin bag, and renewed every hour or two.

Always apply diluted laudanum to fresh wounds.

A poultice of elder-blow tea and biscuit is good as a preventive to mortification. The approach of mortification is generally shown by the formation of blisters filled with blood; water blisters are not alarming.

Burnt alum held in the mouth is good for the canker.

Tea made of slippery elm is good for the piles, and for humors in the blood; to be drank plentifully. Winter evergreen* is considered good for all humors, particularly scrofula. Some call it rheumatism-weed; because a tea made from it is supposed to check that painful disorder.      * This plant resembles the poisonous kill-lamb, both in shape and the glossiness of the leaves: great care should be used to distinguish them. 

When the toe nails have a tendency to turn in, so as to be painful, the nail should be kept scraped very thin, and as near the flesh as possible. As soon as the corner of the nail can be raised up and out of the flesh, it should be kept from again entering, by putting a tuft of fine lint under it.

As this book may fall into the hands of those who cannot speedily obtain a physician, it is worthwhile to mention what is best to be done for the bite of a rattlesnake: Cut the flesh out, around the bite, instantly; that the poison may not have time to circulate in the blood. If caustic is at hand, put it upon the raw flesh; if not the next best thing is to fill the wound with salt –renewing it occasionally. Take a dose of sweet oil and spirits of turpentine, to defend the stomach. If the whole limb swells, bathe it in salt and vinegar freely. It is well to physic the system thoroughly, before returning to usual diet.

Maxims for Good health

Rise early, eat simple food, and take plenty of exercise. Let not children be dressed in tight clothes. Avoid the necessity of a physician, but if you find yourself really ill, have nothing to do with quacks or quick medicine. Keep hair clean, washing does not injure the hair as is generally supposed. Do not sleep with hair braided or frizzled. Do not make children cross-eyed by having hair hung about their foreheads, where they see it continually.

Never sleep without proper tooth attention. Take pulverized chalk with twice as much, made very fine charcoal, and add castile soap suds and spirits of camphor to make a thick past. Apply with finger or brush.

A fathers advice to his courtin’ son;  Kissin’ wears out- cookin’ don’t –Them that works hard, eats hardy – A woman can throw out more with a spoon than a man can bring in with a shovel.

 

Recollections

I came up during and around the depression days. Food was scares and we were taught to eat all the food put before us, and daresent try to leave the table without a clean plate.  I remember many good things from my childhood, mother cookin’ over the old stove, the aroma of the kitchen on bread makin’ day, hog jowls and turnips on the table for New Year’s day. Other foods come to mind like corn bread, buttermilk, turnip greens, and the black-eyed peas. Mother baked biscuits most meals and always had a few left that we young’uns would use for our snacks or nighttime treat. Nothing could make us happier than to poke our finger through the top of the biscuit and fill it with homemade ribbon cane syrup. The ribbon cane was kept on the table along beside of the butter dish. We were allowed to have only one at a time, and if there was only one left we had to divide it. The rule was that one got to cut but the other got to pick. That worked fine until my big brother figured out that he could cut and then lick his finger, placing it on the larger side. He did this mostly when mother wasn’t looking.

I can tell you something else that was mighty fine with those syrupy biscuits. It was crisp fried fatback. We always kept a hog, even in the tightest of times. The hog ate mostly tossed out food and scrap anyway.

Mama kept cooked rice and grits cooking most of the time. They and pork got us through those rough times. When all other foods were gone we still had the old standby of syrup and biscuits.