In Sickness and in Health. 

People have always caught colds, measles, flu, have broken bones, grown old and had babies. So how were the 50s and 60s different?

When I was a child, you stayed in bed when you were unwell. Whether it was a cold, bronchitis, chicken pox or a stomach upset, being poorly meant staying home from school and staying in bed. The doctor was informed and visited regularly. We were five miles away from the surgery; nevertheless the highlight of a day confined to bed with spots or a temperature was the sight of old Dr Price (who probably wasn’t even old!) walking towards the house from his car. I can still remember how weak and wobbly the legs felt on the day you were first allowed to get up – just for a short while on the first day, of course!
At home mum put Germolene on cuts and grazes. I can still remember the thick, pink cream in the tin and that distinctive smell. However, if you hurt yourself at school they dabbed neat iodine directly onto the wound which was agony!!

We were given cod liver oil or cod liver oil and malt all winter which was supposed to keep colds away. There was kaolin and morphine for stomach upsets, boric acid for eye infections and camomile lotion for all skin complaints from sunburn to measles. A cough was treated with thick, brown cough mixture which always tasted vile. Our favoured brand was Hactos.

Other things I remember being talked about and used by older people such as grandparents are; gentian violet, kaolin poultices, syrup of figs and Epsom salts.

The  one great thing about being in bed poorly in the 1950s was – you were ‘allowed’ to drink Lucozade. In fact, it was practically compulsory! The thing which made it special was you weren’t ‘allowed’ to drink it at any other time. As soon as you were confined to bed with mumps or ‘flu, Lucozade would appear as if by magic. We were a mile walk from the village shop and five miles from the town but Lucozade was purchased for the poorly one – and only the poorly one! The siblings could just look and drool.

12 thoughts on “In Sickness and in Health. 

  1. It is nice to know that some things like Cod liver and Lucozade are still with us in the 21st Century. Interestingly Cod Liver is used in my country for babies believed to be having abdominal pain as a result of their healing Umbilical cord although health workers try to discourage its use to prevent drug abuse. And funny Lucozade still comes up when a person is sick…i might consider taking it at times when i’m feeling well…(chuckle) Thanks for sharing

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  2. I remember also the ‘being in bed’ when you were sick. For me with asthma and bronchitis a lot, it meant ‘mustard plasters’ on my chest. That was hot yellow mustard mixed with hot water and then put between two piece of thin material… and placed on my chest for about 10-15 min. It got very very warm and uncomfortable but it opened up the bronchial tubes ugh… I actually used them for my own children though too because it worked… Diane

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    • The medicinal drink in our house was Lucozade. A rare treat and almost worth feeling poorly for! We had mainly orange squash, sometimes Ribena but not often so it must have been more expensive. We had the drinks hot in winter.


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