byby Delbert Trew
itch of childhood ailments
of the old childhood diseases are not around today, thanks to modern
During my early years, if my memory serves me right, I contracted
chicken pox, measles, mumps, boils, whooping cough, croup and the
itch. I missed getting head lice by a hair.
I think all of these maladies, with the exception of bouts of the
croup during the Dust Bowl storms, came after I started to school.
My brother Don, four years younger, has often complained that our
practical-minded mother stuck him in bed with his diseased older brother
so the family could eliminate the illnesses at a later date.
I have always loved to read, so I accepted each illness courageously
and caught up on my reading. I do recall my bout with the red measles
was a bad experience as I hurt all over for hours.
The mumps episode came a jaw at a time, during which I suffered little
but stayed in bed for days.
Later, my father and a hired man came down with the mumps in both
jaws at the same time and suffered horribly. I remember having to
do all the chores for days.
I believe the itch was the worst of all. The disease wasn't so bad,
but the treatment required that the victims take a hot bath, (in a
galvanized tub of course,) dry off and apply a thick coating of an
evil-smelling gunk all over your body.
You then donned long handles and socks and wore creosote-smelling
stuff for several days and nights. After an eternity, all was cleansed
with soap and water and, hopefully, the itch was cured.
Doctor Kengle must have imported barrels of the gunk, as every student
I knew contracted the disease.
Today, I doubt anyone knows what adenoids and tonsils are, but they
caused me a lot of trouble at one time. After Doctor Kengle removed
both, along with a big wad of bubble gum, my health improved considerably.
With colds, mother was a Vicks believer and heated spoonfuls of the
salve over kerosene lamp chimneys to spread over my throat and chest.
This was followed by a hot Vicks-covered rag stuck to my chest and
pinned to my long handles with safety pins.
I hated to get sick at Grandma Trew's house for she preferred generous
applications of Mentholatum, doses of castor oil, with a dash of coal
I loved the lady but dreaded her remedies.
My case of chicken pox started outside, then turned inside my body,
causing a lot of pain. Seems like I bathed in cold baking-soda water
to help the pain.
Everyone in the family eventually contracted the disease except mother.
She came from a big family and seemed immune to each malady.
I'm sure that at times she felt she was a war-zone nurse.
I survived all and finally reached maturity where I have enjoyed good
health for over 50 years. However, there was a time when I caught
everything that came along.
© Delbert Trew
All Trew" -
May 1, 2005 column