No, the title of this post has nothing to do with the content, but I just heard James Blunt's new song '1973' and it sounds like it came directly from 1973. WTF, James Blunt. It's 2007, and as far as I know, it's not the year of the cat. According to a recent poll in the U.K., his music is more irritating than hangovers, noisy neighbors, bad hair days and stepping in dog shit. I'd fight them on the dog shit one, since I tend to wear hiking boots with a pretty intricate tread pattern, but the rest is right on.
This post was supposed to be about cow pasture golf, but I'm going to wait on that one.
Instead, I'm going to talk about our recent trip to Shelburne museum, which is an amazing place to visit if you've never been there. It's a 40 acre collection of stuff put together by one rich woman who collected things like the original Ticonderoga paddle boat, the last manned lighthouse on Lake Champlain, and various historic buildings from all over the northeast. Check out their website -- there's a lot more I didn't mention. Other than getting rear-ended by an old guy while sitting on the ferry on the way over to Vermont, the trip was uneventful.
We spent a little time in the Apothecary, which was pretty enlightening.
They have a extensive collection of old medicines, and reading the labels was hilarious. It seems there wasn't much in the way of a "federal drug administration" back in the 1800's, so if it didn't kill you, it was legal to sell as medicine. Most of the medicines on display seemed to have at least a 20% alcohol content, so I figure they were pretty much guaranteed to make you feel better no matter what your ailment -- at least for a little while. Alcohol is nothing if not nature's pain reliever.
Everything cured everything back then. You could drink one thing and it would cure impure blood, cramps, stomach aches, rheumatism, nerve problems and the dreaded "female sickness" which was "an awful internal trouble that is wearing out their lives." (Symptoms included nervousness, fragility, weak nerves, irritability, fretfulness, ringing in the ears, and sleepless nights.)*
I took some pictures of my favorites.
Dr. True's Elixir - If your kids have any complaints whatsoever, all they need is Dr. True and his fabulous elixir.
You know why? Because it cures all children's complaints. All of them. They don't like school? Dr. True will fix it. Don't want to eat their vegetables? Dr. True will make it happen. A bottle of Dr. True's Elixir across the side of the head and they will eat broccoli until long after the bleeding stops. In addition to curing ALL children's complaints, it works specifically hard to expel worms. You might think that the act of curing all complaints would include expelling worms (since I'm sure if you had worms you'd be complaining about it constantly) but who am I to contradict the Doctor? It's impossible to call him a liar -- not when he has the last name of True. There's no way you can go up against that and come out ahead. This stuff must have sold like crazy since everyone knows a worm-free kid is a happy kid.
Dr. Davis's Laxakola - Apparently, pooping was a pretty big issue back then too. It seemed like every other bottle up there either got you going or stopped you from going. This is one of the kickstarter formulas. You'd think Dr. Davis would look a little happier if he had just dropped the kids off at the pool. Physician, heal thyself and all that.
Not only does it supposedly get the factory back in production, it also cures "all conditions resulting from derangement and inactivity of the stomach, liver, kidneys and bowels."
And believe me, deranged bowels are nothing to mess with, especially when they don't care whether they live or die. They take hostages, they hole up, and before you know it, SWAT teams are involved, things are exploding left and right, and it doesn't end well for anyone.
Lydia E. Pinkham's Sanative Wash - The smugly smiling picture of Lydia speaks volumes. Or, if not volumes, sentences. Or maybe it's just one sentence. To me, that sentence is, "My toolbox is as clean as a whistle, and it feels fabulous."
I'm not a woman so I don't know a lot about the daily rigors of keeping things daisy-fresh down there in the old Pinkham, but to me it seems like this stuff has a lot of..well, acids in the active ingredients. And a little math and common sense would lead me to believe that:
Acid + Delicate Female Parts = A band I never liked.
They do eventually tell you what you were supposed to sanitize with it, just in case it wasn't obvious from Lydia's smiling face. I think they had to spell it out because it's conceivable that if you didn't know, you could be happily washing your face with the stuff.
Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic - This one was lighter on the alcohol, being for babies and all, but heavier on the corn syrup. It supposedly cures the chills and fever associated with malaria.
Judging by the picture, and the tagline next to it that says "Original Laughing Baby Trademark" I can only assume one of these things is true -- (1) people had horrifically ugly children back then, or (2) this stuff has some nasty side effects.
But it is pleasant and effective, even if it does eventually make your baby look like a 35-year-old laughing midget with a receding hairline. Is it just me, or does he look like he should be smoking a cigar and running a pawn shop?
Oh, and it's tasteless. If you don't count the lemon flavoring.
Which, when it comes to malaria remedies, I never do.
*I think I might have it.