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Country-style healthcare 

By Clif Knight 

With all the television time and printer’s ink devoted to healthcare, it’s no small miracle that any of us who were born in the 1930s and 1940s survived without a family doctor, annual physicals and a medicine cabinet filled with prescribed medications. 

Most of us have quick and easy access to a family medical doctor or nurse practitioner today. Furthermore, when additional medical attention is required, an appointment can be arranged with a medical specialist in a matter of a few days.  

Those who don’t have a family doctor can walk in and receive medical assistance at an urgent care facility or, in the case of a real emergency, check in at a hospital ER. 

What a big difference it is, between where medicine is today and where it was when I was kid growing up on a farm. Medical doctors were few and far between, and you didn’t visit one – usually in the front room of his own home – unless you had a broken limb or were suffering from excruciating pain.  

When we head of someone being admitted to the nearest hospital, which was 30 miles away, we assumed they were on their deathbed. 

Our mother was a self-educated nurse who attended to the medical needs of my six siblings and me.  

She believed an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure. She required us to wash our hands before eating, cover our mouths and noses when coughing and sneezing and gargle with warm, salty water when we felt a sore throat coming on. 

She reached for the kerosene can and a clean cloth anytime we hobbled in with a nail in a foot or a bad cut on a hand or leg. The only other medications I remember her using were those she purchased from the rolling store: Vick’s salve, Vaseline, Epsom salts, iodine, Mercurochrome, rubbing alcohol and castor oil.  

A nightly ritual was having each of us kids sniff Vick’s salve from a spoon after it was heated on the coals of the fireplace.  

My health was a concern as the result of two accidents I had before I was 4-year-old 

When I was 2, I fell under a wagon loaded with corn and was knocked unconscious. The next year I fell under the rear wheels of a school bus and suffered bruises to my legs. 

Even though I suffered no permanent injuries, my health became a concern expressed by my kinfolks during their infrequent visits. They would look me over and opine, “What’s wrong with Clifton? He looks puny. You ought to give him something.” 

I resented their unqualified opinions because I knew I was just as healthy as they were.  

However, my parents decided that daily dose of mineral oil would do me no harm. I hated the stuff and still get no pleasure in taking medicine of any kind.