Not so common remedy for the common cold

Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 11:49 am

By:  Grace Pollard, Talbott

You’ve heard of snake oil, castor oil, but have you heard of skunk oil? Well, let me tell you all about it.

My grandparents came to Tennessee from Lee County, Va. With them came a lot of old fashioned values and remedies. They made use of everything from ragweed to skunks.

Grandpa loved to whittle, but instead of throwing the shavings away, he’s use them to start fires in the old cook stove. My grandma was a little bowed lady. She love to quilt and had her own concoction for the common cold. Oh sure, you’re thinking lamp oil, lard and turpentine. Wrong.

When winter rolled around, not only did it bring cold weather, but coughs and sniffles, as well. Grandpa would have a kindly old neighbor to cook and render the fat from a skunk. Needless to say, he was a bachelor.

This aromatic liquid was bottled and brought to grandma.

It was to be given to us by tablespoonful, with a lot of protest on our part. They held our noses, and down it went. Within a few seconds after it hit your stomach, up it came bringing phlegm and anything else down there at the time. Believe me, it tastes as bad as it smells.

That was grandma’s cure for the cold. Us eight kids thought it was the worst of all her remedies. Needless to say, we survived it all, but boy, does grape flavored medicine taste a lot better than skunk oil.

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