Tell me if you’ve heard this one

Event in Spa­niard’s Bay tack­les old ways to treat ail­ments

The Compass - - News - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

— If you were on the look­out for dif­fer­ent ways to treat burns, colds or arthri­tis, the Wes­ley Gosse Her­itage Mu­seum would have been the place to be last Wed­nes­day.

Inside the con­fines of the for­mer United Church in Spa­niard’s Bay, peo­ple shared rec­ol­lec­tions from their youth about the sort of tech­niques used to treat any num­ber of mal­adies. Dale Jarvis, a folk­lorist with the Her­itage Foun­da­tion of New­found­land and Labrador, led the dis­cus­sion, which will help in­form a book­let about the sub­ject. The event was a part of HFNL’s Oral His­tory Road­show.

As was pointed out to­wards the end of the dis­cus­sion, th­ese meth­ods were em­ployed dur­ing a time when doc­tors and hos­pi­tals were not al­ways close at hand, forc­ing peo­ple to en­gage in the do-it-your­self spirit.

Through the course of a ca­sual dis­cus­sion that ex­ceeded an hour, there was plenty of laugh­ter as peo­ple shared mem­o­ries of trick their par­ents em­ployed decades ago — though some reme­dies still hold cre­dence.

For a toothache, one woman used clove.

“It worked for a lit­tle while,” she said, be­fore ad­ding, “Noth­ing’s as good as drugs.”

If you’re pre­dis­posed to car sick­ness, salt in a cloth bag draped around the neck is said to help. When sick at sea, gin­ger could hit the spot.

And for a cold, one could

try mak­ing a mus­tard plas­ter wrapped in flan­nel to leave on the chest.

“Did it work?” Jarvis asked when this rem­edy was men­tioned.

“It must of,” a woman an­swered as oth­ers laughed heartily.

The health ben­e­fits of New­found­land’s fairy cir­cles came to light, with one woman re­lay­ing

an amus­ing story about her cat. As a child, she was dead set on plac­ing it in a fairy cir­cle upon re­al­iz­ing her par­ents were pre­pared to put it down. Af­ter do­ing so, the cat van­ished with­out a trace.

For a year, she be­lieved the cir­cle did its job, though she sub­se­quently learned the cat was in fact put to sleep, un­be­knownst to her.

If one was cut years ago, you might try ap­ply­ing tree sap or break out an io­dine bot­tle.

To pre­vent freck­les, there was talk of us­ing May snow — a re­source that also was ap­par­ently good for sore eyes.

For an up­set stom­ach, one woman said she still uses a mix­ture of two ta­ble­spoons of cider vine­gar, two ta­ble­spoons of honey and wa­ter.

“You can’t go wrong,” she said.

Per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing rem­edy men­tioned Wed­nes­day in­volved the con­sump­tion of gin-soaked raisins for arthri­tis. One ad­her­ent sug­gested a dosage of nine raisins a day — no more, no less.

Folk­lorists will now follow up with those who took part in Wed­nes­day’s ses­sion for one-on-one in­ter­views to pre­pare a special book­let. The mu­seum hosts weekly chats called “Yarns and Such” with its oral his­tory ar­chiv­ist Thomas Lane, a sum­mer stu­dent who is com­pil­ing his own in­ter­views and dig­i­tiz­ing them for a pro­vin­cial ar­chive. Those talks are held Wed­nes­days from 7-8 p.m.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COMPASS

Her­itage Foun­da­tion of New­found­land and Labrador folk­lorist Dale Jarvis, far left, lis­tens as Dianne Carr, far right, shares a story dur­ing a dis­cus­sion of folk medicine at the Wes­ley Gosse Her­itage Mu­seum in Spa­niard’s Bay.

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