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Indian Brandee, Tizer and hen's fat

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: August 02, 2007

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FOLLOWING on from previous articles about old cures and home remedies, this week a Wednesbury reader is prompted to share her memories.

Mrs. Winnie Walker, of Friar Park, says: "One I will never forget, when I was a little girl we always had a jar of Hen's fat, not goose; it was always kept warm in the hearth. I used to get the croup a lot and I was laid on the table, and my mom would hold my hands down, and someone would hold my head back and spoon it in my mouth (how cruel!), and it was also rubbed on my chest. It must have been a good cure as I am 82 years old now!''

Winnie adds: "When our children were small, I always kept a jar, just like mom did, because our son, Robert, had croup quite often, but I used to mix it with orange juice for him to drink.''

"I used to get a lot of warts, and mom used to rub them with her wedding ring. I also bathed them with cold tea, but later, put golden eye ointment on them. We had ''Indian Brandee'' for tummy upsets, and my gran always recommended bi-carbonate of soda, in water, for wind, to make us burp.

When I was a bit older, I used to have to go to Timothy Whites' chemist, in High Street, West Bromwich, for oils of peppermint, for my gran. She used to mix it with hot water and a bit of sugar. That was for indigestion, it was very strong!

We gargled with salt water, and we had Tizer pop when we had a sore throat. That was the only time we had pop from a shop, as my aunt used to make her own. I used to fetch the barm from the brewery, in a jug.

I can also remember going to the outdoor at the pub for quinine, and that was for cramp. They also did a bread poultice for boils and carbuncles. I can remember my dad having one on his bottom (ouch!), very painful! Do we still have iodine and boracic ointment for cuts?''


As far as I know, iodine has antiseptic properties and is still in use. Boracic ointment would contain borax, a substance with antiseptic and antifungal properties. Borax was always a staple in the home, used for medicinal purposes, as well as for cleaning, bleaching, laundry, and for removing stains. It's making a bit of a come back, today, as, like many of the old household staples, it's kinder to the environment than modern household cleaning products. It's probably, still, one of the best things to use to remove carpet stains. Simply mix the borax into a paste, and apply to the stain. Allow to dry, and vacuum the powder. Borax dissolved in warm water is also great for deodorizing the fridge.

But, back to Winnie: ''The things people had to do to keep well! My mom paid six pence a week in the doctors' club, and I was in real trouble when I had to fetch a bottle of medicine from the chemist, and I dropped it! But, I still have some lovely memories.''

She recalls: It was when I was reading in the 'Bugle' about May Queens, I was one of the attendants to Edith Haywood when she was May Queen at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Spon Lane. Mom had a long dress made for me, the colour was clover. That was 1937-38. I had many happy years there. Our parents worked hard, for us, times were hard, but, I can honestly say I enjoyed my childhood with just one halfpenny pocket money, which increased to one penny when my brother, Ron, started work. I thank you all for the lovely memories you bring back to us old ones. My best wishes to you all.''

Likewise, best wishes and many thanks to Winnie for her lovely memories, and to all our readers, young, and not so young, who keep sending us so many great stories.

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