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.

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