Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sick in the Sixties

As I write this, I’m just getting over being sick with the latest virus or bug that's been going around my work since December. It's worse than a cold, but not quite the flu.

It did cause me to miss three days of work last week, though. And all that laying around gave me time to reflect on what it was like for my siblings and me when we got sick while growing up in the 1960s.

First of all, back then there were no "unknown viruses." You either had a cold, or the flu.
The cold was predictable and was really more of a nuisance. You had a sore throat and a cough, and your nose ran a lot. The remedy? We sucked on cough drops continually. This wasn’t so bad, since they were sweet and tasted like candy. We even fell asleep with them lodged in the side of our mouths.
If it was a bad cold, Mom would put Vicks VapoRub on our chest, and then cover it with a piece of flannel, pinned to our pajamas.

We were a real Vicks family. We had the vaporizer, which Mom cranked up once in a while, as well as the small, bullet-like inhalers which delivered a shot of Vicks aroma right up our old schnozzolas.

If we had a real bad cold, then Mom would break out the Citrisun – a hot lemonade drink that packed a powerful punch.

It knocked out the cold – and us too.

And that's how we dealt with colds back then.

Now, the flu – the “real” flu, not today’s modern version – was something else.

First of all, you had to stay home from school. Back then, having the flu meant that not only did you have a pretty good fever, you had diarrhea too.

You also threw up a lot. I remember how we used to sleep with a plastic bucket next to our bed, in case we couldn’t make the sprint to the bathroom in time.

We could hardly hold anything down, and ate mainly soup and crackers. We also were given 7 Up or ginger ale to settle our stomachs. (I'm still not crazy about 7 Up – probably because I associate it with being sick.)

As for doctors, I don’t remember one ever coming out to the house, although I think Mom used to call him to get advice.

Anyway, somehow we survived. I don’t remember ever missing more than a day or two of school for the flu. And the colds used to run their course in a week.

Nowadays, the germs and viruses are apparently more exotic and you stay sick longer. Some people even die from the flu. Medical researchers come up with new flu shots each year, but despite getting the shot, people still get sick anyway.

But some things don’t change. When I first got sick last week, Mom had one piece of advice for me.

“Don’t forget to rub some Vicks on your chest and cover it with a flannel.”


Nance said...

I was always sick as a child, so all of those things (minus the Citrus one; never heard of it) were constant companions. Add hot tea with honey and lemon, and I feel like I grew up on them. To this day, I can't stand the smell of hot tea with lemon (or Earl Grey, which comes close); it makes me feel a wave of illness immediately.

Have you priced a jar of VapO Rub lately? Holy crap. That stuff is pricey.

Dan Brady said...

I think so too. Plus the last time I bought some, I thought it wasn't as strong as it used to be – and where's the fun in that?

Mark said...

I was out sick the past week as well - and Ludens cough drops are still the best part of being sick!