“These are the good old days.” — Oscar Elliott (My late friend and long-time purveyor of philosophy, wit and wisdom.)
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Stuck at home entertaining an uninvited bout of flu last week gave rise to discussion touting methods of modern medicine against Granny’s old-fashioned home remedies.
The winner, and the cough cure recommended by nine out of ten Grannies, was the proverbial lemon, honey and a shot of whiskey. Mine endorsed it. Granny Aldridge, a devout teetotaler quick to admonish alcohol as the work of the devil, kept a small bottle of spirits in her cupboard—for medicinal purposes only, of course.
The affliction itself, she attacked with a concoction of garlic, vinegar and other ingredients that I not only couldn’t identify, I didn’t want to know. Today, I’m convinced the cure was not in the potion itself, but in the fact that no one else was going to get close enough to infect you.
Everything was just different at Granny’s. From miracle cures, to more pleasant memories, like eating: if it was from Granny’s house, it was better. Simple things like chips. I eat Fritos today because Granny kept them at her house. My favorite chip could be a toss up. “Ruffles,” or barbecue potato chips are contenders, but, I’m thinking Fritos would win two out of three times just because eating them recalls time spent at her house.
Fritos were not a common pantry item at home. We had chips—just the plain ones for “sandwich night.” Mom prepared simple meals, even on sandwich night, and I guess Fritos were too fancy.
Granny’s stash of Fritos, cookies, candy and other treats was kept only in her dining room buffet and that was the attraction. Special treats, kept in a special place.
For instance, we had mellorine at home, not to be confused with real ice cream, in the half-gallon square cartons. But, Granny kept ice cream sandwiches, and for a practical reason. Her refrigerator was old, even for the 50s. It had a very small freezer compartment with space on either side for milk, juice, and a water bottle, because there was no need to “waste” ice on a drink of water.
The tiny freezer in Granny’s ‘fridge had only two shelves for frozen food, each one accommodating something no larger than a couple of ice trays—which it also had just below the shelves. Therefore, she bought ice cream sandwiches because they fit. Today, however, I still eat ice cream sandwiches for no other reason than it reminds me of snacking at her house.
Another special treat at Granny’s was one I’ve not seen in many years—vanilla ice cream and devil’s food cake roll. That was not going to fit in her freezer in any case, making it a special treat bought only on Sunday afternoons at the A&P, after which we drove to the “gravel pit” to enjoy it picnic style.
The county gravel pit in the late 50s was on a county road off 271 north near the current Pittsburg hospital. Why we didn’t just go to the park, I don’t know. There was obviously some sort of attraction to enjoying a cake and ice cream roll on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the gravel pit.
It was in any case, a much easier and simpler way of life than today…except for those old-fashioned home remedies. You can keep them, but let me know if you see a cake and ice cream roll, will you?
(PHOTO: By the author—”Granny’s buffet,” the same one I went to for “special treats in a special place” at her house. She bought it used from a neighbor in Mineola, Texas sometime between 1923 and 1930. It sat in the same spot in her house in Pittsburg, Texas from 1930 to 1993. It has resided with me since 1993.)