Coffee, Tea, or Milk of Magnesia?

I thought I was going to be totally stumped today by Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt of Coffee, Tea, or Me – flirty phrases are just not me, especially not embarrassingly dated stuff like that.

Then I read John Holton’s SOCS post mentioning about air stewardesses back in the day writing a book of that name and suddenly it all became clear. Yup, in the context of the sexist world of the original ‘trolley dollies’ (such a ghastly, demeaning name) I can see how that phrase might come about.

But to be honest the thing that struck me most about John’s post is the 1970s ad he’s included at the bottom for Milk of Magnesia – because oooh, there’s something I can post about, family medicine cabinet staples from my childhood! I suppose it’s a kind of Stream of Consciousness post once removed – related to Linda’s topic, but indirectly, through reading John’s post.

I so clearly remember the blue bottle of Milk of Magnesia, we were usually given a spoon of that white milky liquid for the solid kind of bellyache caused by constipation – I can even remember the odd taste of it. It was joined in its choice of eye-catching blue glass bottle by a little jar of Vicks Vaporub – its powerfully strong menthol heating sensation when rubbed on your chest and back was used to relieve congestion due to a cold.

My dad used to be bothered with indigestion a lot so there was always a tin of Andrew’s Liver Salts to be had – a spoon of that dissolved in water would fizz up into salty bubbles to be drunk down straight away, usually followed immediately by a huge belch, to settle any stomach discomfort. And I remember dad also carried little white square Rennies tablets in his pocket at all times for his heartburn.

Another duo of products that spring to mind is a tub of Vaseline petroleum jelly and a tin – a proper round tin, not a tube – of thick, pink Germolene antiseptic ointment. Now there’s a smell to stick in your nostrils. In my mind’s eye I link the strong smell of Germolene to the memory of fabric sticking plaster strips, because scrapes and grazes were cleaned with the sting of diluted Dettol, Germolene antiseptic ointment was applied, then a plaster cut to size was stuck over the top and you were sent on your way.

The painkiller I remember most from childhood is Disprin, a dissolvable asprin. If there was such a thing as ibuprofen available way back in the 1960s and 1970s they definitely didn’t make it as far as our medicine cabinet. These were the main generic products I remember, but I was ill a lot as a child so had my prescribed medicines to take too – Phenergan Syrup for my allergies tasted absolutely vile… yuk!

OK, that memory has put me off now, so I’ll just stop there while the going’s still good ๐Ÿ™‚

14 thoughts on “Coffee, Tea, or Milk of Magnesia?

  1. Those memories are strong, Ruth. I remember many of those products or what I guess were their local counterparts. I think Tylenol was the first non-aspirin pain reliever on the open market.

    I was anemic as a child and had to take cod liver oil by the spoonful. My mother followed it with on odd textured Orange slice candy that tasted bad, but absorbed the CLO taste.

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    1. Ugh… I forgot all about cod liver oil by the spoonful… these days I take it in little pearl-like soluble capsules, swallowed whole, which is altogether a much more pleasant experience ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Oh! Ruth, I loved this your magic medicine cabinet held all the things ours did. Plus it reminded me Witchhazel for cuts and bruises, TCP similar to Dettol and Snowfire a white solid stick that smelt wonderful and was used for chilblains, dry skin and cracked heels! Oh! And don’t forget the Calamine Lotion… memories ๐Ÿ’œ

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    1. Oh yes, I still use snowfire for hacks in the wintertime,although mine is green, and of course pink calamine lotion to soothe bites and stings was a godsend. We didn’t have a bottle of Witchhazel indoors when we were growing up but I definitely used it as a young mum on a pad to soothe my tender stitched-up underneath after childbirth, it was wonderful ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Thanks again for the shoutout… Andrew’s Liver Salts sound a lot like Alka-Selter, which is kind of like baking soda with bubbles, and Rennies sound like Tums or Rolaids, chewable antacids. Yes, I have a lot of indigestion issues, too….

    Those blue jars of Vick’s VapoRub seem to last forever. They might even be considered heirlooms. I’ve seen antique dealers selling them. They put in plastic jars now, which is just wrong, you know?

    Ah, the stuff we used in the Good Old Days…

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