Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Remembrance of A Childhood Illness – Part One: Blowing Smoke

I woke up a few days ago with a slight ear ache. By the time I'd had my coffee and surfed the Internet, it was gone, but the twinge in my ear reminded me of a long-ago time during which an ear ache played a major role in my life.

I’ve written in earlier posts about living in Las Vegas, NM in 1941, and about Pearl Harbor and my father leaving home immediately afterwards to work for the United States Army. Out of economic necessity, Mother needed to get a job, and as there was no suitable work in the small (at the time) country town of Las Vegas, she applied for and was hired by an electrical supply company in Albuquerque as a secretary and bookkeeper.

We stayed in Las Vegas until school was out in the spring of 1942, then moved, lock, stock and barrel, to Albuquerque, using the Southwest Trailways Bus Line as both our means of transportation and moving company, shipping boxes of necessities in the luggage compartment between the wheels of the bus. I have to think that our furniture was conveyed in some other fashion, but I have no recollection of that process.

Mother had rented a small house near the downtown area, only a few blocks from her place of employment. I don’t recall very much about the house other than it had a floor furnace and a piano, which was a great delight to us, and we three girls spent hours sitting on the piano bench, playing “music.”

In the fall of 1942, I started the second grade at Lew Wallace Elementary School, which was within easy walking distance of our home. Sometime around Christmas, I began to experience very painful ear aches and to run fever. I was kept at home during the feverish periods, and returned to school as I was able. I do remember that after a while, it seemed I was at home sick more than I was in school.

One of our neighbors was a man we called “Shorty.” I know he was not a young man, at least he was old enough to have escaped the military draft. I believe Shorty had already served in the navy or merchant marine, and might even have been retired, and we children thought he looked like Popeye, since he had many tattoos on his arms and shoulders. Shorty evidently became a friend of the family, because he would sometimes come over to visit in the evenings when I was sick with an ear ache. Shorty smoked Camel cigarettes, and while he ordinarily did not smoke during his visits to our home, he declared that cigarette smoke blown into the ear would help alleviate the pain. I remember him lighting up, inhaling mouthfuls of smoke and blowing them gently into my ear. He would burn up a whole cigarette just blowing smoke. It didn't help.

To be continued tomorrow - I promise. It's already written.


Snowbrush said...

I've heard that too, but haven't experienced it. Maybe it's the heat rather than the smoke that helps--when it helps at all.

I cried so little as a child that my doctor worried about me, but I actually remember crying one night from an earache. I even remember how worried my mother and grandmother looked.

Diana said...

Some of the old remedies were really way out there. My husbands aunt who has since passed , was an old country woman who said that if you poor warm pee in the ear, the earache would get better! How disgusting!

Anonymous said...

yep I remember this one. My dad did it to me. I don't remember it helping either, but I remember it fondly none the less.

Peter said...

Earache and Camel cigarettes both bring back memories for me too, the Camel cigarettes being the more pleasant of the two! I have never been a smoker, but I love the picture on the camel cigarette packet. It actually takes me right back to my happy art school days in England as it was there that I first became aware of Camel Cigarettes. It seemed that the girls all smoked Camel Cigarettes and drank cherry brandy (thus both have romantic associations!), and the male students generally smoked various other brands, one even smoked a pipe, and us "grown up" gents of 16 or 17 drank beer... or tried to.. if we could get hold of the stuff! That was in the mid 1970s in the North of England. They were wonderfully innocent days and marked the time when I actually started to enjoy learning (I was miserable at secondary school).

Earache..., mmm, horrid!

Countrygirl said...

Waiting for the rest! I have heard that as well, have you heard of candling an ear?

Pat - Arkansas said...

Countrygirl: Nope; I've not heard of "candling an ear." What's the process? Hope it's not dripping hot wax down the ear canal! :)

Snap said...

Wonderful story, Pat. Keep writing!

♥ Kathy♥ said...

What a strange thing to do to cure an ear ache?! How in the world did he think that blowing smoke into your ear was going to make it better?
What a great story. =)

NitWit1 said...

I had an earache Tues. a.m. which seemed to be pressure behind the ear:drainage.

No fever and an already scheduled visit to Dr. saw nothing unusual.

Later in day the pressure lessened as did the pain. Guess it decided to drain.

Will keep the treatment in mind as hubby smokes Camels. However, I more sold on heat and Auralgan ear drops.

I had so many ruptured ear drums as a child. Ear specialist says scarring is entire reason for moderate hearing loss.

Anonymous said...

Great story....and when I got to the end and saw the space for 'comments'...I just sat there a second...thinking...."No way!...She's not going to leave me hanging here!"....but you did...and I can't wait for more.
Smiles to you from Jackie

Wanda said...

I'll be waiting here beside Jackie for the rest of your story Pat...

Anonymous said...

I suffered a great deal from sore throats and earaches, and sometimes mum would listen to gran who told her to tie a used woolen sock over the offending ear. Ugh!
Then there was warmed olive oil poured into it-that terrified me, always afraid it would be too hot. It got to the point where I suffered in silence-the cure being worse than the pain.

Anonymous said...

Nice to remember the childhood days..great memories..
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jinksy said...

Thank goodness my kids had antibiotics to clear their ear infections - much kinder than the hot oil applications my brother and I had to undergo. We must have been made of tough stuff, way back then! Your story triggered memories galore... :)