What ails you? | TheFencePost.com

What ails you?

Advertising: The practice of capturing your attention so you’ll buy stuff you don’t need or don’t want or don’t care about. Say something loud enough and long enough and after a time, people believe what’s being touted. The practice hasn’t changed since the caveman drew pictographs on the cave walls.

Want to read something fun? Try The Great American Medicine Show. Being An Illustrated History of Hucksters, healers, health evangelists and heroes from Plymouth Rock to the present.

Nostrums from a hundred or more years ago claimed to combat and/or cure all ailments. Back in 1885, you could buy most anything containing cocaine such as: Allen’s Cocaine Tablets.

For Colds, Sore Throat, Nervousness, Neuralgia, Headache, Sleeplessness, Dyspepsia, Indigestion, Heartburn and Flatulency. Used by Elocutionists, Vocalists, and Actors.



For Catarrh, Asthma, Hay Fever, Cold in the Head.


For Burns, Scalds, Sunburn, Prickly Heat, Eczema, Hives, Itching, Skin Eruptions, Mosquito Bites.


Instantaneous Cure!

For sale by all Druggists.

There was no end of “cures” available in the “good old days.” Including the benefits derived from ingesting “Mineral Waters.”



Rheumatism: Hot mineral baths; Acute gout: Alkaline water; Chronic gout: Saline water; Anemia: Chalybeate water; Hemiplagic paralysis: Laxative saline water; Hysteria: Sulphur and chalybeate water; Chronic laryngitis: Sulphur and alkaline water; Acid dyspepsia: Alkaline water; Flatulent dyspepsia: Saline water; Engorgement of the liver: Saline, Alkaline, and saline-sulphur water; Eczema: Sulphur water; Psoriasis: Saline-sulphur water.

In the eighteenth century, Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia (and a temperance crusader) recommended daily doses of “chalybeate” waters (containing salts and iron) as a cure all for hysteria, palsy, obstinate diarrhea, female weaknesses, loss of appetite, obstructions of the liver and spleen, and diseases of the kidneys and bladder.

What, you might ask, are today’s nostrums? Cough medicine — which has up to 18% alcohol. (Kiddies love having to ingest cough medicine?) Some mouth wash products have up to 27% alcohol. Woo-hoo! If you run out of hooch, try mouth wash?

And today, there’s no need for snake oil salesmen to travel here and there to tout their wares. Today quack medicine comes to all via technological assistance such as facebook, twitter and other “social media” avenues. Along with the general tendency of people to rush from fad to fad, charlatan remedies of today remain alive and flourishing (such as essential oils).

Shorty and Clyde, two retired cowpokes, have invented their own guaranteed nostrum for all quandaries.

Cowpoke Nostrum

Shorty and Clyde were talkin’ one day,

‘Bout how to live long and avoid decay.

Said Shorty, “Well, out there in Oregon,

They swaller big hunks of blue green scum.”

“G’wan,” said Clyde, “that there’s a crock,

Scum ain’t edible ‘cept ta frogs on a rock.”

“It’s algae,” said Shorty, “it gits froze and dried,

Take a daily chaw and you won’t never die.”

Said Clyde, “Does Medicare cover the cost?”

“Guess not,” said Shorty, he seemed at a loss,

Then brightened as both of his brain cells engaged,

“But I got an idea, you’ll be plumb amazed.”

“We got algae, it grows in the horsetank,

It ain’t blue-green, but it’s slimy and rank!”

So they went into business, and each morning at nine,

With beetfork and shovel, they harvested slime.

They pitched the stuff on the roof of the shed,

Where it dried in the sun like a big green spread.

Then they scraped it into an old salt trough,

And stomped it to powder, the dust made ‘em cough.

Into old snuff boxes once used for bait,

They poured dried slime at a gingerly rate.

Five hundred snuff cans of puce green algae,

They worked so hard, they both got draggy.

So, they each took a dip of dried green scum,

And poked it between their lip and their gum.

“Wow!” said Shorty, “I feel full of juice!”

“Me too,” said Clyde, “I’m loose as a goose.”

When Clyde feels down, he eats Scum of the West,

It relieves his blues, he no longer feels stressed.

It jump starts his heart and makes him feel smart,

He don’t fear the dark, he appreciates art.

Shorty’s bowels have improved, sometimes they move,

And four hairs have grown back in original grooves,

But lately he’s speaking in rhyme and in verse

And he won’t shut up, it’s like he’s cursed.

For the sad fact is, both Shorty and Clyde

Should’ve left that algae to putrefy,

Should’ve run like the devil, cuz wouldn’t you know it,

They’ve both turned into cowboy poets. ❖

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