Health remedies

From Harry Foy's Book  'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'

Children's health was a big worry for parents in the Thirties. many children died in infancy. No family was spared because there was no health service although there were annual school inspections. For these, a room was set apart and each pupil was examined by a nurse. Teeth, tonsils, eyesight and hair were checked, the latter for the presence of lice, and if anything was found wanting you were referred to the relevant department. One visit everyone dreaded was that by the school dentist. He was hard of hearing so if you yelled in pain, he didn't know.

Being a close knit community, neighbours were always on hand to advise on various remedies. Nits were dealt with by using sheep dip or red carbolic soap. Every house had castor oil and syrup of figs for most complaints. Brown paper and vinegar was kept handy for bad chests and festering cuts were cured with bread poultices. Children with whooping cough were sent to play in special pits in the gasworks as it was believed that the fumes of gas from the coke relieved the congestion. There were no horn-rimmed glasses then, everyone wore steel-rimmed ones. Doctors were among the small number of people who had cars so a house visit had the whole street out. Since few people had telephones you couldn't phone for a doctor's appointment, so you had to go along to the waiting room, which was usually the front parlour of the doctor's house, and wait. The doctor was the most respected man in the parish.

I recall myself and two chums were attracted by an advert enticing us to join the Palestine Police Force. Applications had to be supported by a doctor's certificate of fitness. So off we went to see Dr. Fleming. We sat in the waiting room and I was called first. I told the doctor what I wanted and he asked if my chums were on the same errand. I said they were and he brought all three of us into the kitchen for tea and cakes and a long talk detailing the history of the Jewish/Arab conflict. He pointed out that the British Bobby was the enemy of both sides and it was a very dangerous life. He persuaded us of the folly of joining the Palestine Police Force. Next morning the Irish News carried the headline "Two British Policemen Shot In Palestine".
Market Day in Portadown.

Street gangs and fogging orchards.

The wee shops.

Colourful vendors.

The Canon's trip.

The Butterfly.

Greenaway's ghost.

Summer on the Bann.

The Great Lemonade Robbery.

My first day at school.

The packman.

Even the dog understood the language.


Our House.

A long throw since skittles game was born.

The Gas Man Cometh.

In tune with the band.

Clubs and tickmen.

Donald Campbell Had nothing on us.

The Obinsville Cowboys.

Singing in the streets.

Such good sports.

The days of the sand quays.

The magic of Christmas.

Bombs - not sandwiches.

Skipping, football and cigarette cards.

Escape to the movies.

My first taste of plays.

Smuggling knew no borders.

The tale of the pigs.

Three brass balls.

Thanks for the memories.

First class show!.

Who could forget Mary Ann!.

Fondly Remembered.

Going To The Dogs.


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