T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Folk Remedies for ailments and injuries
Morris Prater by Chelsea Aresneault, 2016.
CHELSEA ARSENEAULT: So what would they do for a cold?

MORRIS PRATER: Well, Grandma, she had something that she'd go out to get out there and come back, make you a tea. Drink that and in a few days you was all right. I remember my brother, he had what . . . malaria fever. They called it malaria fever, I think they called it. Anyway, he had that one year. He was serious sick with that fever, you know, high fever. They had what these . . . called them bitter weeds. Whole big weed with those yellow flowers on them. They come up about so high. They made us go pull a lot of them. They had a big wash pot on the outside. A big old pot they put water in it and throwed wood around it, Got it hot. Got them bitter weeds and put them in that tubs back then. They didn't have the tub like they got in the bathroom then. They had this wash tub.

ARSENEAULT: The number three tub?

PRATER: Yeah. Number three tub. They put them bitter weeds in there and poured that hot water in there on that. They put a . . . Set a chair in there and set him in that chair and covered him up with a blanket and sweated him out. In a few days he was all right.

ARSENEAULT: What about for cuts or bruises or anything like that?

PRATER: Yeah. They would put some turpentine on it. We called it coal oil back then, kerosene.

ARSENEAULT: They poured kerosene on it?

PRATER: Yeah, pour kerosene on it and turpentine. I believe they’d put that on there and then they’d go around the house and get some spider webs, you know, spider webs. Put that on there and wrap it up. I . . . spot on my foot there where I was out to the cow pen when I was smaller and had . . . see the [tin?] around the side there and I climbed up on the . . . and slid down that. Cut my foot all open under there. Got around the house got that put on it, wrapped it up. I was walking on my heel for a few days, but after that it got all right. We didn't go to no doctor for nothing like that, just a cut like that. Now, I don't remember breaking no bones or nothing so . . . They didn't have no money to waste. You cut your foot you didn't have no money to go to the doctor with that. [laughs]

ARSENEAULT: You just tough it out.

PRATER: Yeah. It'll be alright in a few days. Stuck a nail. I stuck a nail in my foot. They put a piece of fat meat on that. Bacon. Fat meat and bacon, slap piece . . . Cut a piece out, put it on there and wrap it up, for a nail stick. Pour some turpentine or something like that on it. Go on.

ARSENEAULT: What was the turpentine for?

PRATER: That would take some of the soreness out of it and make it heal, too. Kerosene be the same thing. Take some of the soreness out of it, and it heal up.
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