Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sick Days

So many people are taking sick days lately. It seems everyone is sick - or was sick - or thinks they are getting sick. I'm hearing of them from all over the country. I blame it on the weird weather. A few days of warmth and sunshine, followed by a deep freeze for a while, then back again. Maybe if it stays really cold for a while, all will be well again.


Oddly enough, when I think of times that I was sick as a child, they are mostly good memories. I know that sounds strange, but I really don't remember many bad times, except that one Christmas when I was too sick to care about gifts under the tree. I'm sure there must have been days when I felt terrible, but I don't remember them.


I had all of the usual childhood diseases of the day: measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough. Didn't miss a one. And I would be put into bed for the duration. But what I remember of that is cool, crisp, clean sheets that felt so good, and pillows to prop me up. And little meals on a bed tray. My mother would always make me Junket custard, which I loved. And she would give me Saltines with currant jelly on them - another favorite. She would tell me that jelly was made with pectin, and that would settle the stomach.


The family doctor would be called to come out. I loved him. He looked as if he'd just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. He would sit by my bed and poke and prod a little, and maybe tickle me, listen intently with his stethoscope and take my temperature. No matter what else he prescribed, no matter what was wrong with me, before he left he would reach down into his bag, and produce a vial of his famous pink pills. He would shake a few into my hand. They were delicious! And they never failed to make me feel better. Just as my mother believed in pectin, the doctor believed in potato soup. It was a little routine. He would tell my mother to make me potato soup, she would tell him I didn't like it, and he would then tell her to make me mashed potatoes.


In those days, all of the aforementioned childhood diseases also required quarantine, with the Health Department plastering a warning on the front door.


For as long as I was required to remain in bed, it also meant a series of small gifts brought to me by various family members. My favorite was paper dolls. I had many, many sets of paper dolls, including Shirley Temple. A few years later (I think it was when I had measles) the big hit was Gone With the Wind. Of course, I knew nothing of the book at that time, but the movie had just come out. There were so many characters in that story, and so many clothes - hoop skirts and parasols.


Some times my sister would help me make my own paper dolls and tons of clothes to be put on with those little paper tabs. Drawing them and coloring and cutting out whiled away many hours in bed.


My other favorite occupation while sick, was the picture box. Mother never had photo albums, but she had dozens of photographs, kept in a large dress box. Some were from her childhood, some from her courting days with my father and their friends and his family. And of course there were our own family photos. I would ask about the people I didn't know, but I could never keep them straight in my mind. My Grandmother had died when my mother was 18 months old, and Grandfather traveled with a vaudevillian quartet, so she was raised by a foster family. She made no distinction when talking about brothers or sistes, or even cousins, and I could never figure out which were "real" relatives and which from the foster family. And as for my father, he was one of nine children. Several had died, so I never had met them. My confusion about relationships didn't bother me until much later, when I was trying to make a family tree.


While recuperating, I enjoyed many hours with that picture box and my paper dolls and my books. It was really very pleasant. Children today do not have so many of these illnesses, thank goodness. When they do have colds or flu, are they kept in bed for long periods of time? I don't think so. I do know that their doctors don't make house calls any more. I guess they never get to know the pleasure of those magic pink pills.







The photos are of my grandmother, my brother and sister in the 20's, and of my brother, sister, and me in the 30's.
Rockwell painting courtesy of Google.

Speaking of old photos - Did you see Villas Girl's pictures yesterday?

15 comments:

pink dogwood said...

I loved this post - I always love it when you reminisce :)

It makes so much more sense to let a sick child be in bed and let the doctor come to your house - but that is not to be anymore.

Pagan Sphinx said...

When I read these nostalgic posts you write, it always reminds me of Norman Rockwell. So idylic.

Kids these days go to school very young or to daycare because both parents often have to work. We deal with sick kids coming to school all the time time when they should be home. It's a catch-22. I feel for the parents, who often have no one to care for their sick kid while they work but I also feel for the little ones who must endure a long day of husstle and bustle when they should be home resting.

I say: bring back the pink pills!!! I used to give my kids a very mild, over-the-counter homeopathic remedy called Calms. They were slightly sweet and could be chewed. Worked every time - from a scarped knee to the sniffles. ;-)

I love these posts. Keep them coming!

Love,
Gina

Rosebud Collection said...

This little story made me laugh and I could really relate..My uncle was the doctor and I had paperdolls..which I loved..Actually, love both very much..My great uncle was a doctor too, didn't get to know him..They were real country doctors..Wonderful men..

Clara....in TN said...

I remember having the measles and the chicken pox. There were seven of us and sometimes all of us would be in the bed at the same time. My poor Mother. Daddy always gave us Rawleigh's Liniment..the kind that you drink. He thought that was a cure for everything! Maybe it was. We survived!

Daryl said...

I had a coat box (HUGE) filled with all sorts of Paper dolls... actresses like Debra Paget as well as Betsy McCall ... and I confess to cutting off all those tabs except the top 2 ...

Deborah Godin said...

This was neat to read your recollections of childhood sick days. It triggered vague memories in me of having a home visit from a doctor, but I wonder if it's real. I would have been very young if it was real! Great old photos, too.

Marla said...

Nice post. I was sick alot as a kid. I had everything disease out there, except for whooping cough. I do remember having the measles once and I developed pneumonia. I had to be hospitalized for oxygen and they put me in a store room in the basement so others wouldn't be exposed to the measles. I remember people looking in the window on the door at me. My grandpa Oscar would tell me that the water bottle bubbling on the oxygen take was to wash my nose out. I believed him of course!

Sylvia K said...

I always love your stories about your childhood and how happy it was. I have few of my own and none that I care to revisit, so yours are all the more endearing. Thanks, Bobbie!

Claire, said...

How lovely! I keep a picture box I never did like albums, or rules, much.

Dianne said...

sick days when I was kid meant movie magazines - not tabloids but the old fashioned ones where everything was glamour and gloss

dAwN said...

Bobbie..
What..i missed a few posts here...now i will read and catch up...
Well i Loved your memorys of being sick as a child..How nurturing you mother was...and a drs call..that is unheard of now a days...
your shadow shot is very cool...
and that nursing chair is very nice...
great old photos!
ok i am all caught up on the posts i missed!
have a nice day1

Mare said...

Well, your post reminded me of my childhood. I got those '3 week measles' and watched everyone else play outside. I had paperdolls, and a beanbag clown. My doctor also made home visits. Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane!!

Kay said...

This was a MOST delightful post! It does seem like there's a lot more sick people around here. I'm just waiting for it to hit me, too. I loved reading about your early sick days. I wish we still could have doctors that made house calls. Potato soup, hunh? I wonder if you grew to like it.

me ann my camera said...

Bobbie, this is another one of your treasure trove of memories posts that have prompted some of mine. The big thing that was special when we were sick was to get a 'big' bottle of gingerale. That was the 'magic' pink pills to me. I can still remember the disappointment though when I didn't get a pair of sunglasses like my oldest brother did when he got the measles. I just had to stay in a darkened room with the shades pulled. I think we stayed in bed too for most of the time when we were sick so we didn't get cold. I loved being tucked in and getting to feel pretty special for a while. Thanks for the memories :-)

Trannyhead said...

I thoroughly enjoy reading stories of your old memories. My mom talks about the days when the doctor would come to her house and it just blows my mind. It seems so much more humane to have a doctor visit. I mean - when I take my son to the pediatrician it's so miserable. First off, dragging a sick kid to the doctor is bad. But then having to sit in the waiting room where he catches a few more diseases? Ugh!