Nostalgic Notes

Published 2:03 am Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By Staff
Dieting is a necessary evil, old time remedies tend to work for me
By Lowell McGill
Diets and old timey remedies came to mind this week after receiving an email from a friend whom I had not heard from in a couple of years.
He had bypass surgery two weeks ago and he was concerned about having to cultivate a completely new diet. He had talked to me after my bypass surgery five years ago and he was interested in learning what he could and could not eat.
He said he knew it was necessary to make a change in his diet and he wanted to know if I had a diet he could follow. I told him the food to avoid based on what my doctor had told me. This included eliminating sugar, caffeine, white flour, trans fats, whole milk, cheese crackers, chips, etc. I explained to him that my cardiologist told me an improper diet would cause a danger of the arteries filling back up quickly. I also told him that riding an “in place” bike was also good exercise for the heart.
He was in a good mood, however, and said he was getting his strength back. I told him not to worry about getting his food prepared properly because I knew his wife, like my wife, was an excellent cook. She would certainly know how to prepare the proper foods for him.
After receiving his email it made me think of all the bad food I had eaten over a lifetime prior to my surgery. I also remember in 1950 when I was in high school I drove up to a service station in Perdido and saw a man I knew eating his lunch with some of his fellow highway workers. In his lunch pail were two big biscuits. One biscuit contained a big thick slice of fat bacon. The other biscuit was filled with slices of fried Irish potatoes. He gave me a piece of each biscuit and, man, did they taste good. They were moist, delicious and I could taste all the lard and fats they were made of. The biscuits were just like those my grandfather took to his job when I was a real small boy.
Well, I suppose eating food similar to this most of my life caught up with me. Finally, those arteries did, indeed, clog and four of them had to be replaced. I’m not sure where the new arteries came from, but the surgeon was able to locate four replacement arteries from other areas of my body.
It is very difficult to give up a style of eating where everything “tasted good.” But when it could possibly become life threatening you realize changes must be made.
Thinking about diets led me to thinking about remedies. I remember in 1965 Bobby Norris and I were talking with Bully Brooks at Bill Bartel’s frozen meat locker business. Bill introduced us to a friend of his who was visiting from Louisiana. I’m not sure how the conversation began, but the man told us about a remedy to relieve sinus pressure and sinus headaches. He said the key to this remedy was to induce sneezing. He said take a tiny bit of pepper and lightly sniff it into your nostril. Then, he said after your sneezing spell is finished, take some warm salty water and squish it up your nostrils. Well, I tried his remedy. The only thing he forgot to tell us was to “hold onto your hat” after the pepper went up your nose. That pepper was HOT. But, he was certainly right. The sinus pressure and headache ended almost immediately.
I heard this remedy again in the early 1980s when I was working Pierre Part, La. following a flood there. The remedy was given to me by an elderly lady who lived with her son and his family. (He is the same man I wrote about earlier who made “Spicy Meal” and sold it to the offshore drilling companies not far from his home). The remedy she gave me called for spicy salt free seasoning instead of peppers. She told me the remedy was used by her family and many others for years..
I can attest that it does work. It brings instant relief to sinus pressure. It’s something about the constant sneezing that apparently opens up the passages in the sinus and the somewhat “healing power” of the warm salty water. Let me say right here I am not sure you should try this because I’m not a doctor. I only say it works for me. You may want to consult your personal doctor before you try it.
This same old lady gave me a remedy for sore throat. She said take honey and a “dab” of the seasoning and mix with about a dozen teaspoons of water. Then sip on it until the throat feels better. Again, it works for me.
This lady also had a remedy for what she called “fish hook snags.” Many of the residents of that area made their living from fishing. It was not uncommon for a fish hook to be snagged into a leg or arm of these fishermen. She took a leaf from a plant growing in her yard and soaked it in salty water for a day. Then she wrapped and taped the leaf around the area where the fish hook tore into the skin. After a couple of days or so the torn skin area was healed. I don’t know the name of the plant used in that remedy. If I ever go over there again I will ask some of the family members about it.
Sadly, the last time I was in Pierre Part I learned she had passed away. I became friends of that family when I worked their flood loss in the early 1980s. They invited me to come and watch their “Christmas on the bayous,” but I never had the opportunity to go. They did show me photographs of the beautifully decorated and lighted boats. All the families had respective “themes and coats of arms,” which were depicted on their small boats and perots as they paraded up and down the bayous. One of these days during the Christmas season I am going back over there to see this event. I am told their Christmas celebrations, which are known throughout the nation, are sights to behold.
In that news article carried in the Advance last week regarding the ECHS class reunion I need to further clarify that story I wrote. The reunion will honor classes of 1952, 1953 and 1954. The article may have caused some to think it would involve only classes of 1952 and 1954.
Lowell McGill is a historical columnist for The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at

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