Back in the day, kerosene was a cure-all

Going back to the 1940’s in Milam County, when things were simple, Jeanne Diver Goff remembers her visits with her grandparents on a farm here.

That reminded me of a similar visit I had at the same age and time.

At about nine years old, Jeanne remembers being with the Divers, who lived on a little farm in the Sipe Springs area.

She loved visiting them and wandering around outside to find new adventures.

One day she came upon a cow feed trough. It was a boxlike container with four legs.

She recalls:

“I thought it would be fun to walk along the sides like a tightrope walker, so I got up on the trough walked for a while and then I slipped and down my foot went through to the bottom and landed on a nail.

“Ouch! I had to pull my foot away from the board and nail. I hobbled back to the house and told Grandma what had happened. She walked me back to the barn to check the damage to the trough and then back to the house.

She pulled the rusty nail out of my foot, dropped it in a can of kerosene and said ‘All the nails your Daddy ever stepped on are in that can’.” After cleaning my foot, she wrapped a kerosene rag around it and said, ‘that’ll keep it from getting festered’ and it didn’t.”

My adventure with kerosene was also in the mid 1940’s. My Timmerman grandparents lived on a farm in Tracey.

They raised cotton, corn and hegari (hi-gear). Those were the days when mules pulled the plows and man powered a cotton hoe to chop weeds in the fields.

As the hoes were being sharpened, I found one with a short enough handle that I could use and convince Papa that I was going to chop cotton that day too.

Even with him trying to convince me that this was dangerous, I won out. After about 30 minutes, my feet were getting hot, so I took off my shoes and socks and proceed chopping until one whack with the hoe, hit my big toe.

Grandma wasn’t too far behind me and grabbed me by the arm, and back to the wagon and to the house we went.

You can guess what I heard, “you never take off your shoes in a cotton patch, and anyway, you are just too young to use a hoe.”

We got to the house. First she washed my foot in warm water, then poured kerosene on my toe, and wrapped my toe in a kerosene soaked rag.

In those days, kerosene was a necessity. You used it to fuel the lantern, start a fire, and heal a wound.

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2011-11-03 digital edition

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