Kudzu was introduced to the United States at the first World’s Fair in 1876, and was planted by southern farmers to prevent land erosion. During World War II, however, tensions between the United States and Japan resulted in a kudzu shortage…that’s right, a kudzu shortage. I discovered this while perusing a website called Remember Cliffside (the subject of a North Carolina Miscellany post from a while back), which contained an article describing the kudzu shortage in Cliffside, N.C. This information proved integral to my understanding the context of this letter, found recently in the Delta and Providence Cooperative Farm Records (finding aid):
Whiskey and turpentine? Sounds a bit like the homemade cough syrup my mother used to fix for me when I was young. While we’re on the subject of strange prescriptions, here’s an excerpt from a 1930s pamphlet in the Delta and Providence Farm Papers (finding aid), titled, “Why a Doctor is Needed on the Delta Cooperative Farm:”
A baby was born on the Farm. A member of the farm who was a registered mid-wife in the state of Mississippi was in charge of the case. The Mother developed an infection, due, probably, to none too clean instruments. The mid-wife mixed a concoction of roaches and garlic and applied it to the infection.
Was this remedy effective? The pamphlet doesn’t say, though I’m happy to report that the Delta Cooperative Farm was soon joined by physician David R. Minter.
Posted in Collections, Featured Collections, Staff Finds
Tagged cooperatives, cough syrup, farms, garlic, homemade remedies, medical treatments, Mississippi, Mississippi Delta, remedies, roaches