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My not so common coldPosted Tuesday, May 8, 2012, at 6:31 PM
Having lived a long and healthy life, I was very much distraught when I came down with a cold on the first day of December. I had it all--coughing, sneezing, head ache, and aching muscles. Since I am living alone, I was not concerned about inflicting this malady on others around me, and my condition was such that it gave me a good excuse to leave the dishes in the sink, or I should say leave them unwashed on the dining table.
To pamper this cold, I was spending more hours resting in bed, so I could see no reason to rearrange the sheets and blankets. I did think about sweeping the floor, but I had broken the handle out of my broom a few days earlier, while trying to kill a mouse that had taken up domicile in the clutter under my kitchen sink. I knew that using the vacuum cleaner was out of the question, as the roar of the motor would be more than my aching head could tolerate, so I decided to just relax, rest inside and hopefully last longer than my cold.
After a few days of this solitude, I began to get lonely so, for some company, I decided to let my dog come in the house. Old Ky-Rucus took one sniff of the surrounding conditions, turned up his nose, tucked his tail between his legs and made a hasty retreat back to his private little doghouse.
The state of my condition finally got around to both of my friends, and it was soon spread all over town that I was preparing my will.
There were a few neighbors who wanted to see me survive, at least long enough to pay my debts, and the other half of town was too concerned about the outcome of the basketball tournament to be concerned about someone with a deadly cold. Anyway, the few who wanted to see me survive and still be around on my next payday, started calling me and giving advice on how to cure this cold.
The first adviser told me to soak my feet in very hot water, and since my feet had not been scrubbed since I waded over my boot while I was duck hunting in October, I took his advice. Before I could get the rust off my toenails, another friend called and said I should take a hot shower. Well, I finally remembered how to operate this device, so I did this also.
Within an hour, another caller assured me that the best policy was to "Stuff a Cold and Starve a Fever." I had both, so I decided to stuff the cold and let the fever take care of itself. To this end, I stuffed myself with everything I could find in the house, except the canned dog food. I couldn't see any need to starve the dog, just because I was dying with a cold.
The next advisor suggested that I drink a 15-ounce glass of very warm salt water. I didn't feel that I had room for that, but I drank it anyway. The results of this were swift and thorough. I was immediately relieved of everything, clear down to my socks. At this point, I was resolved that, had I a choice between another glass of warm salt water and a tornado, I would definitely choose the tornado.
Finally, the community witch doctor came to my rescue. I had known this old crone all my life. She looked as bad as I felt, and since she was nearing 100 years old, I thought she should know what she was talking about. She recommended that I hang a bag of asafetida around my neck and make up a brew of ginger, the juice of two large, crushed garlic bulbs, the juice of two large onions, some red pepper, a few drops of turpentine, and some whisky. I carefully followed her instructions, but after three doses of this concoction,and enduring 12 hours of breathing the alliaceous odor of the asafetida, I could feel no results, except that I smelled worse than a skunk and had the breath of a buzzard.
I had just about given up all hopes of recovery, when I happened to remember old Pappy Knight, who, back in the days of prohibition, made the best Moon-Shine in Bollinger County. His special recipe was so potent that it would warm up a cast-iron statue of Osama Ben Laden and so mellow that it would take the starch out of a flagpole. He had told me that the best way to cure a cold was to take a mixture of whisky. He said to take two pint bottles of whisky, mix them together and take this mixture in four broken doses.
As a Christmas gift a few years earlier, I had been given just what Doctor Knight had ordered, so I mixed the two pints of Moon-Shine together and took the jug to bed with me. After my experience with the warm salt water, I was somewhat concerned that this remedy might have similar results, and I just didn't feel that I needed any more relief of that kind.
Luckily it didn't happen that way, but I did have some difficulty hanging on to the bed, as it made circles and figure eights around the room. I finally woke up with a three-day growth of beard on my face, still alive, and feeling like Rip Van Winkle.
Now, with best regards to some of my friends and all of my enemies, I offer for consideration the remedies mentioned here. If they don't cure your next cold, they will definitely put you out of your misery, one way or another. .
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Paul Corbin is a 98-year-old historian, humorist, and amateur archeologist from Advance, Mo. He grew up in the Greenbrier area west of Advance, where he attended Stepp School on the banks of Cato Slough and the Castor River, important waterways throughout his life. In an age when many area residents did not go to high school, the young Corbin made the decision to walk the five miles to Zalma, graduating in 1933. Throughout his life, he was an enterprising businessman, selling Watkins products from house to house throughout a large area - and later opening a variety store in Advance. He and his wife Geneva traveled throughout the United States, even following the route that the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled. His knowledge of Native American culture is extensive, and he has donated a sizeable collection of his artifacts to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill. Throughout the years, he has submitted articles to TBY, the North Stoddard Countian, the Ozark Mountaineer, and several other Missouri publications. He has also written two books - "Reflections in Missouri Mud," and "Fragments of my Feeble Mind." The first one is out of print.