post The Last Word: More Remedies to Ponder

January 13th, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:34 pm

By WJ St.Germain
As promised, we will have a peek at a few more remedies of the Old West, starting with warts; specifically the unsightly little bumps found on hands, arms, feet and a mandatory feature of witches noses. The other wart related conditions won’t be discussed here.

Warts seemed to be quite a problem. This isn’t surprising given that they are caused by a virus that, left untreated, easily spreads. Hygiene wasn’t all it could have been back then – recall that urine was used as a disinfectant – so the wart virus (human papilloma virus or HPV) would have been in its element. Warts are most commonly found among children. By the time we reach adulthood, the body’s immune system can usually deal with the virus when exposed to it. Since we now have umpteen hand sanitizers available, I wonder if statistics would reveal a reduction in their frequency among today’s children as compared to the Old West. There’s something to investigate for someone who has far too much time on their hands.

So how were warts treated? Very simply. Never mind things like liquid nitrogen, which looks very impressive when used and would have left people of the Old West speechless, or the other chemicals you can buy from your local pharmacy, all you needed back then was butter and a cat. You covered the wart with butter then had a cat lick the butter off. This way the cat could get warts on its tongue and you wouldn’t feel like such an outcast. Failing that, your wart would at least feel loved.

To be honest, there is a feline strain of the virus but the two species don’t tend to cross transmit which is lucky for the cats that were offered buttered warts. (The feline strain usually affects older animals or those with compromised immune systems).  If no cats were handy you were advised to rub the wart good and hard with a rock. Presumably, it would hurt so much you’d stop caring about the fact that you had an unsightly wart which, I can assure you, would look a great deal more unsightly after you’d finished.

Embarrassed and irritated by unsightly nettle rash? No worries. Simply urinate on it. Apparently the urine removed the pain caused by the rash – no doubt by creating a whole new burning sensation. People would also be less likely to notice your rash because you would smell so bad they wouldn’t stand too close to you. Should you wish to try this remedy (in which case, maybe you need to get out of the sun and have a little lie down) if the rash is in a hard to reach place ask a trusted friend if they’d be so good as to wee on you. It would certainly provide a unique bonding moment while also proving to you whether or not they are only fair-weather friends.

Ladies! You would never have to worry about facial skin issues again thanks to Dr. MacKenzie’s Improved Harmless Arsenic Complexion Wafers. This miracle breakthrough was guaranteed to produce, ‘The most lovely complexion the imagination can desire.’ No more blemishes, marks, blotches, freckles or wrinkles. The wafers came with a warning to BEWARE OF IMITATIONS!  Imitations may not do the job whereas Dr Mackenzie’s beauty wafers removed any unattractive flaws. Heck, with regular use they might even have eliminate a lady’s whole face if she preferred to live without it.

If I really extend my imagination, I can see a grain of truth in the good doctor’s remedy. I don’t know about the blemishes, marks and blotches but you can rest assured that he offered the best anti-ageing remedy in the world.  After all, anyone who regularly soaked their face in arsenic would end up sufficiently poisoned not to live long enough to ever see a wrinkle form.

Men, do you suffer from irritability? Ladies, are your husbands ill tempered? Well one of my favorite solutions for ‘irritability, pessimism and crossness’ among men comes from a 1918 advertisement in the Casper Tribune. Yes, technically it’s a teensy bit after the Old West period but it was too good not to share. Besides, William F. ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody died in 1917 while Wyatt Earp died 12 years later so Old West guys were still around then.

The advertisement shows a calm doctor advising a rather cross looking patient that the cause of his crankiness may be due to his underwear, ‘scratching, bunching, slipping up and falling down.’ I don’t know about you but that would do it for me. Bunched undies would be most annoying, not to mention unflattering due to the bumpy bottom look they would create. The solution was to ditch those picky, woolen underwear in favor of the patented Munsingwear, menswear that promise to make one want to sing.

Given that the average salary could be .50- $1.50 a week (Gunsmoke’s Doc Adams once mentioned earning $3 a week and he was considered fairly well off), I imagine that after learning that the prices ranged from $2.25-$10.00 a pair, rather than sing with joy, Munsingers reduced more than a few men to tears when they saw what they cost. For those who coughed up the money, we can only hope that their moods changed for the better while they wore them. You’ve got to wonder if some of Boot Hill’s most hardened villains might not have avoided falling into a life of crime had they worn Munsingers.

I puzzled over why they didn’t create a line of Womunsingwear and came to the conclusion that women had the good sense to make their undies out of cotton rather than the more macho wool. Sorry guys, but women take this sort of thing very seriously.

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