Thursday, March 23, 2017

GET THE CUPS OUT

THE DOCTOR'S BAG

the blog about the medicine and surgery of yesteryear

Keith Souter aka Clay More





CUPPING- A USEFUL TREATMENT FOR THE FRONTIER DOCTOR

Bleed, blister, vomit and purge! Those were basically the components of Heroic medicine, the name given to the aggressive medical practice used right up to the mid-19th century. They were therapeutic techniques that had their origins back in the days of Hippocrates, the father of medicine in the fifth century BC. 

In England in the 18th century Dr John Lettsom (1744-1815), founded of the London Medical Society, which is the oldest medical society in the UK. He was a Quaker and an abolitionist, who became one of the most eminent physicians of his day. He was a staunch advocate of Heroic medicine and wrote humorously about himself:

When people's ill they come to I
I, blisters, bleeds and sweats 'em.
Sometimes they live, sometimes they die.
What's that to I?
I let's 'em.



Sadly, that may not have been far from the truth.

On the other side of the Pond, Heroic medicine,'s greatest advocate was Dr Benjamin Rush (1746-1813). He was a signatory of there Declaration of Independence and was a physician, politician and social reformer.

He was famous for providing the Lewis and Clark expedition with "Dr Rush's Bilious Pills," essentially calomel, a drug containing mercurous chloride, which they used liberally throughout their two year journey.

Blistering
Doctors used blistering, the deliberate production of blisters on the skin to produce a powerful confer-irritation. Effectively, the pain of the blister would over-ride the painful condition being treated.  They were used in pneumonia, rheumatic conditions, sciatica and neuralgia. They also were advocated in heart disease, diabetes and liver disease.

Mustard plasters were used for mildly painful conditions. Mustard paste would be applied to the body and bandaged on. Sprains and chills were treated with these.

More extreme conditions were treated with 'blistering fluids' called vesicants. Capsicum, made from chilli peppers was commonly used. Capsicum could be applied as a tincture, liniment or ointment. It would produce redness and a raised area, but not quite a blister. This could be used over arthritic joints.

The most powerful vesicant was the famous Spanish Fly. This was actually a pulverised beetle, one of the so-called 'blistering beetles.' Doctors had supplies of it labelled Cantharis vesicatorium.


When an area was to be blistered it would be surrounded by vaseline to limit the area.. Then it would be painted with the blistering fluid. As soon as the blister arose, the area would be cleaned and a dry dressing applied.

Cupping
Cups were extensively used by 19th century doctors, both as an adjunct to  bleeding or as a method on its own. 

In fact, cupping is a technique that was used by the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Chinese. The Greek traveller and historian describes cupping used by Egyptian physicians. 



A frieze from the temple of Sobek at Kom Ombo depicts a case of surgical instruments, with  cups used for cupping in the bottom left corner. 

Doctors used both wet and dry cupping. Wet cupping was used for the treatment of local areas of inflammation. Wet cupping meant that it was used together with scarification to draw off blood. A scarificator consisted of a brass box containing a series of spring loaded blades that could be triggered to cut through skin.

Cups


Scarificator

After the scarification site was selected, usually an area of localised inflammation, the cups were warmed in water. With a small lit torch or spill in one hand and the cup in the other, an edge of the cup would be placed against the skin. The lighted torch would then be placed inside the cup for two seconds, then withdrawn and the cup placed immediately down. The vacuum produced would suck the skin up to a third of the volume of the cup. It would be left on for one minute and then removed and the scarification applied to produce a series of cuts. The cup would again be applied with the same method. About four ounces of blood would be produce per cup applied. 

Dry cupping was called vesication, for it is another method to produce a blister. This would be used for pneumonia and other chest infections, rheumatic conditions, liver disease and other internal organs. The theory as that the cupping would draw blood to the surface, as a bruise, but also other disease causing humours or fluids. 

Dry cupping is still used in sports medicine and in Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. Indeed, in my own practice I have used acupuncture and cupping for over 35 years in pain management. 


THE DOCTOR'S BAG - MEDICINE AND SURGERY OF YESTERYEAR has been published by Sundown Press, available in ebook or paperback.


Clay More's novel about Dr George Goodfellow is published in the West of the Big River series by Western Fictioneers. 

Available at Amazon.com:


Monday, March 20, 2017

The Cider Stand by Gordon L. Rottman

Hi guys, this piece has nothing to do with the Old West. It is just a nostalgia piece I had originally wrote for my kids and grand-kids about my own youth.


When I was growing up we “pilgrimaged” to Missouri every summer for the family reunion. The trips in the late 1950s and early 1960s I remembered the best. Our family endured a hot two or three days of driving depending on stops to visit friends en route. While the visit with all my cousins was much looked forward to, the drive was not exactly the trip’s high point. My younger brother and sister and I quickly grew bored regardless of the games we played. The games did serve to keep us occupied for a spell.
Mom would buy a set of “car games,” in a box. There was one game played on cards divided into squares and you had to spell specified words finding letters seen on roadside signs. You could only use the first letter of a sign’s word if it was horizontal. But we could use any letter in a word if it was displayed vertically or diagonally. Needless to say there were certain letters that you just could not find. “Q”, “X”, and “Z” were challenges. It kept us quiet and we didn’t make a peep to alert the others when we spied a sign with a rare letter.
There were other cards with different states’ license tags that we searched for to check off. Of course driving through northeast Texas we did not see many out-of-state plates. We also argued about what breed each road-killed critter was. Of course there was Twenty Questions and Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral? I don’t think kids play these games today. They were “educational” in that it forced us to think and be creative.
The high point of the road-part of the trip, both to and from Missouri, came too early on the outbound leg and way too late on the return trip. I looked forward to it thinking that it wasn’t soon enough, but it would probably have been better if it had been somewhat later. The anticipation was great.
As we drove north from Houston toward Texarkana on US Route 59, we passed through Cleveland (not Ohio’s) and a few miles further on was Shepherd, not even a wide spot in the road. Shepard’s population didn’t number a hundred I believe. We were only some 60 miles north of Houston, but it seemed to take forever to get there.
On the right side of the four-lane highway was Ward’s Cider Stand. It was a tiny roofed, open-front stand like fresh fruit was sold from. Built of corrugated tin and plywood, it had a large plywood sign proclaiming its name in bold red hand-painted letters—WARD’S CIDER.
We’d park on the shoulder and there was usually a car or two already there. I’d just about be out the door before the car stopped on the red gravel shoulder worrying that they may have taken the last bottle, but there were always plenty.
The stand had a narrow board counter and was open-backed. A man was behind the counter, I assumed Mr. Ward himself, and a young girl or two. A top-opening red Coke-Cola chest held the cider bottles. Raising the lid revealed a water-filled chest with big chunks of ice and dozens of upright floating bottles. It was about 98 degrees temperature with matching humidity being an East Texas summer. There was nothing that looked colder. The clear bottles had a large round body with a long neck closed by white or black screw caps. I don’t know what their capacity was, maybe a quart and a half. No label marred their contour.
Mr. Ward offered three flavors: apple, cherry, and grape. The apple looked like liquid gold and was our favorite. The cherry was deep red and the grape so dark it looked like NuGrape soda as sold at James Coney Island hotdog stand in Houston. This being the 1950s and early 1960s, they were expensive at a dollar a bottle. Dad would buy two or three bottles of apple and one of cherry—usually. We never did buy a bottle of grape.
One of the girls would pluck the bottles from the ice water, hand it to Mr. Ward and he rolled it in a sheet of newspaper laid on the counter and twisted the paper’s end at the bottle’s mouth. I’d carry the bottles back to the car and Mom would peel off the damp newsprint and stick them in our Igloo ice chest. Igloos were metal in those days, not plastic as introduced in 1962. The Igloo plant was outside of Houston by the way.
We drank the cider from paper cups when we stopped at a roadside park and made baloney or pimento loaf sandwiches on a concrete picnic table. On the sandwiches were Kraft sandwich spread and American sliced processed cheese. Sometimes we sliced up a big dill pickle. There were virtually no fast food places found on highways.
I don’t know if Mr. Ward actually made the cider—doubtful—or if it was from bulk batches he bought or maybe from a concentrate. I don’t think it was the latter. It was too rich, too flavorful. And sweet too. Those paper cups were just too small. I’ve since tried many brands of apple cider and juice. None approach that remembered taste on those hot summer days. By the time we got to Missouri the cider was a fondly remembered thing. But on the way home we had another chance to stop and had the rationed treat for another week once home.
A couple of years we took a roundabout way home to spend a few days at Panama City, Florida. That regrettably meant we returned home from the east on US Route 90—there was no Interstate 10 in those days. Ward’s was far to the north.
In 1970, the summer after I returned from Vietnam, I climbed onto my new British Triumph 650 motorcycle and headed to the family farm in Missouri to decompress. A couple of months working on the farm, sweating it out shoveling sheep poop, chopping silage, filling different farmers’ silos for the coming winter with my cousin, and consorting with healthy German-Missouri farm girls, was just what I needed.
Tearing north on Route 59, I saw the city limits sign for Shepherd. I no doubt smiled. There was Ward’s, like a roadside oasis. I purchased a single bottle for $1.50 and Mr. Ward wrapped it extra thick with newspaper as it would be carried in an army rucksack strapped on the motorcycle. I nursed that bottle to make it last for through three-day trip. Sounds like I have a case of cider-dependency….
Almost three months later I stopped again at that oasis. Mr. Ward wasn’t there, but I told his daughter—kinda cute—how much that stand had met to me and my family over the years. I asked her to tell that to her dad. I bought two bottles of apple.
The next time I went up Route 59 in the summer time was maybe two years later. I spotted the lonely stand there on the roadside. Still standing, leaning a little, but the sign was gone. There was no house nearby to make inquiries. Over forty-five years later I still think of Ward’s Cider when I drive through Shepherd. I’ve now no idea where the stand had stood. I’ve still not found a cider to compare.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Western Comics Focus on: INDEH


Troy D. Smith

Ethan Hawke starred in not one, but TWO western films last year: The Magnificent Seven and, to less fanfare, In a Valley of Violence (opposite John Travolta). But did you know that he also authored a graphic novel about Geronimo, called Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars?




He had originally written it many years ago as a screenplay, inspired by the 1990s Geronimo film which featured Wes Studi as the title character -but gave him fourth billing, after three white actors who played guys who met Geronimo. He recalls thinking that no one would do that with a movie about, for example, Malcolm X -but that it seemed perfectly acceptable to Hollywood to do it to a Native character.


Once he had finished, however, he realized it would cost in excess of 200 million dollars to make -and that he would never be able to get anyone in Hollywood to spring that much cash for a movie that didn't have a white person as the main character. So instead of a film, he decided to go the route of a graphic novel (where there is no special effects or location budget.) He teamed with artist Greg Ruth, whose work had appeared in comics such as Star Wars and Conan, to produce a story centered on Cochise and Geronimo, set in 1872. When it came out last summer (2016) it immediately became a New York Times bestseller.



Hawke and Ruth strive to put the Apaches back at the center of their own story, and tells it from the Apache characters' point of view. The foreword is by Douglas Miles, owner of the company Apache Skateboards (and an Apache). The book, in a rarity for a graphic novel, includes a bibliography so that readers who want to learn more about Apache history will know where to look.

I heard about this book when it came out, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I plan to remedy that soon.

It certainly looks good! Anyone out there want to tell us if it was?







Wednesday, March 15, 2017

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SHORT STORY? by Cheryl Pierson



Do you like short stories? I love them, both as a writer and as a reader. I’m so thrilled that they’re making a comeback in today’s world! I remember as a teenager in high school English class, some of the short stories that were taught at the time. You can probably recall these classes, too—we read many short stories and novels that couldn’t reach into our world and touch us, not at that age.

It’s odd to me that had some of the selections been different, or more age-appropriate, this might have fostered a love of reading the short story rather than dread for so many. The essay questions at the end of the story seemed hard for many of the students to understand, much less formulate answers to in order to show what they learned from the story. As high school freshmen in the 14-15 year-old age range, and with our limited knowledge of the world, it was difficult for some to be able to grasp symbolism or foreshadowing among other story elements. I realized later on that some people never grasp it, no matter how old they are. Reading with that kind of intuitive understanding is not something everyone is able to do.

Being forced to read something for a grade rather than enjoyment was something I didn’t understand. For one thing, I enjoyed reading. As with any kid, some things held my interest more than others. But I never could fathom some of my classmates who actually said, “I hate to read.”
I had some favorite short stories, even out of the ones we were forced to read. Who could forget Whitney and Rainsford in Richard Connell’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME? Frank Stockton’s THE LADY OR THE TIGER? Or, TO BUILD A FIRE, by Jack London?



Those stories were what inspired me to want to write “like that” and I often wondered in later years, seeing my kids’ English books and the stories they contained, where our next generation of writers would come from? There was certainly nothing “inspiring” in those stories. I was wishing there were some of the stories from “the good ol’ days” in their books, even though at the time I had been their age, many of my classmates had detested those same stories that I loved so much.


But one day, my daughter came home from school and said, “Mom, we read a story today that was so good! It’s about a guy who is trying to survive in the cold and he tries to build a fire…” And a few years later, my son couldn’t wait to tell me about a story they’d read about an island, where men were hunted…


Not everyone who loves to read wants to become a writer. So I’m wondering…was there a particular short story that you read when you were younger that made you want to write? Or even just made you become an avid reader? Since so many of us write westerns, was there a western short story that influenced you when you were younger? The one that I loved was not really a short story, but a short novel, Fred Gipson’s OLD YELLER. In later years, another one that stood out was Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY.




I'd have to say one of my all-time favorite short stories is Dorothy M. Johnson's LOST SISTER--this is a fictional story based on Cynthia Ann Parker's real life story of being kidnapped by the Comanche, and marrying a Comanche chief. She later became the mother of another prominent chief, Quanah Parker. LOST SISTER is a story that you will remember long after you finish reading it!

What's your favorite short story? It doesn't have to be a western. I'd love to hear what your favorite(s) are. My TBR list is bursting at the seams anyhow, but I can't stop myself from adding to it when I hear about MORE great reads!


I’m giving away a free print copy of one of my short story collections today, DARK TRAIL RISING. All you have to do is comment! Be sure and leave your contact info in your comment, as well!

Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/author/span/cherylpierson/span/a/div?tag=pettpist-20

Thursday, March 2, 2017

MARC CAMERON'S DREAM-COME-TRUE WRITING GIG by Cheryl Pierson




What happens to a dream deferred? Well, sometimes it takes off and become even bigger than anyone could ever foresee! Ask Marc Cameron.

Though Marc was able to follow through on his dream of becoming a writer as well as having a long career as a law enforcement officer from Texas to Alaska, things began to really heat up for him just about the time he retired from the U.S. Marshals Service. Marc has written everything from westerns to high-octane thrillers, with his Jericho Quinn series. Now, he's just upped the ante.





Marc has been asked to write for the Tom Clancy "universe", replacing Mark Greaney who is leaving, and who recommended Marc for this coveted spot!

Tom Clancy’s longtime editor, Tom Colgan, Vice President and Editorial Director, Berkley Publishing Group, gave Marc a ringing endorsement: “I wish I could take credit for thinking of Marc Cameron for the Jack Sr. book but it was actually Mark Greaney who suggested him. He had just read Marc Cameron’s most recent book and thought he would be a good fit. Boy, was he right. From the start, Marc Cameron just really got Jack Ryan and John Clark and all the rest of the characters. I’m excited to see Mike (Maden) and Marc continue the Clancy tradition.”

To read the entire article about Marc's latest "dream-come-true" writing project for the Tom Clancy group, click here:
https://therealbookspy.com/2017/02/20/exclusive-big-changes-coming-to-the-tom-clancy-universe-in-2017/

You'll have to wait until July to read Marc's Tom Clancy contribution,but meanwhile, you can go to Amazon and find all of his Jericho Quinn books to tide you over until then!
https://www.amazon.com/Marc-Cameron/e/B005FB45C8/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1487984248&sr=1-2-ent

Let's all wish Marc a big ol' HUGE congratulations on this next leg of his writing journey! We can say, "We knew you when..."

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

#2 One-room Schoolhouse: The Teachers     
March 1, 2017
By Julie A Hanks, Ph.D. aka Jesse J Elliot

     “The San Francisco Board of Education has voted to discharge any female teacher who may commit the crime of marriage.” FLIN, June 16, 1870, 215-4.





We can romanticize all we want about the teachers in the one-room schoolhouse, but those intrepid souls faced many challenges. Their job descriptions often entailed cleaning, maintaining the classroom, and teaching. Their salaries were low, and often they had no home of their own. Yet in spite of these many challenges, these amazing pioneers were America’s main conductors of education for almost two hundred years.
Teachers in the one-room schoolhouse were both male (the schoolmaster) and female (the schoolmarm). Except in the mission schools, if a female teacher married, she had to quit teaching “because her most important job then became taking care of the household for her husband.” Every family in the community would take care of the teacher’s needs, often providing a place to live until he or she could establish one. In some rural communities, families paid the teacher’s salary while others provided food and staples (Oak Hill School Teacher’s Resource and Curriculum Guide.)
One might ask: why did anyone become a teacher at an isolated schoolhouse in an isolated community? One reason is teaching school was one of the few respectable jobs available for unmarried women (and men without means). Teaching offered a job and an opportunity to travel. Although the one-room schoolhouse appeared to be a fifty-hour workhouse, it often was more than that.
All through the nineteenth century the one-room school was frequently the focus for people’s lives outside the home. Besides being used for the daily routine of educating children, it was a place where church services, Christmas parties and hoe-downs were held. The school provided social contacts outside the family unit and became an extended family itself. (Oak Hill School Teacher’s Resource and Curriculum Guide).
Though the pay was little and the opportunity for advancement was almost nonexistent, the one-room schoolhouse was usually able to fill the position of schoolmarm or schoolmaster. Interestingly, the academic qualifications were not an issue, but the moral and job demands were. According to “Rules for Teachers – 1872” (an unauthenticated list):
RULES FOR TEACHERS - 1872
1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.

2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the daily' session.

3. Make your pens carefully. You whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.

4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.

5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.

6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.

7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of this earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.

8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honest.

9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.

10. You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless attending a school function.

11. You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have permission of the chairmen of the board.

12. You may not smoke cigarettes.

13. You may not under any circumstances dye your hair.

14. You may not dress in bright colors.                                                  Snopes.com
            
       However, the rules on this list must not have been far from the truth, because similar restrictions appeared on a 1923 Contract:

            Ironically, some of the earliest teachers on the frontier were mothers who taught the local children in her own home or wives of missionaries, but as communities grew, and one-room schools were built, the only women allowed to teach in classrooms were unmarried.

 “The marriage of Miss Alice Tomilson reminds us that our premium school teachers are being gathered into the matrimonial net by men who place self above the public welfare. Suppose all the marriageable female teachers in the world were to be married tomorrow, the country would go to rack and ruin.” Grand Island, Nebraska, Time, September 15, 1883.

Marriage aside, there was also the challenges of maintaining the school. As there was no custodial support, the teacher in the one-room schoolhouse was responsible for keeping it clean and heating it up in the morning. How extensive some of these duties were varied with the community. Some teachers even had to deal with cleaning the privies, while others did not.
Maybe, one of the advantages/disadvantages of teaching in the 19th Century was the lack of paper—too expensive, so at least the teacher didn’t have to take home piles of papers to correct every night and on week-ends. J

Next week:  Meeting some of the individuals who went out west to teach in the one-room schools.




Bibliography
Oak Hill School Teacher’s Resource and Curriculum Guide.
“Rules for Teachers – 1872” (an unauthenticated list), snopes.com
 Gittleson, Wendy.  “EARLY 20TH CENTURY TEACHERS CONTRACT PROVES WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY, BABY,” Feminist Issues, March 8, 2015. http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/feminist-issues/early-20th-century-teachers-contract-proves-we-have-come-a-long-way-baby/

Moulton, Candy. (1999). “Education,” in Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West from 1840-1900. Writers Digest Books: Cincinnati, Ohio.

Grand Island, Nebraska, Time, September 15, 1883.
FLIN, June 16, 1870, 215-4.  (Source unknown)