When I was a child, most Saturday afternoons were spend at the local cinema. And on the way home, my brothers and friends would be The Magnificent Seven or the Three Musketeers all the way home.
We’d stage shootouts on the steps of the barbers, take cover in the corner near the sweet shop, stage ambushes from the dry cleaner’s and fence our way past the chemist shop and the butchers. Those were fun times.
We could all be riddled with dozens bullets or skewered with swords, but we’d all survive those playful wounds.
The Battle of the Bulge was fought on Fairview Strand, the Last Stand of the Alamo on Windsor Avenue, Spanish Armada sank in a puddle on Marino Mart.
The Grand was a big art deco building that seemed voluminous in the dark that seemed to swallow the light of the usher as she walked down the rows and shone her torch at those making noise.
Nits in hair
I think more than once we came home with fleas. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some nits in our hair as well. I do remember having nits once, and my father walked us into an old hardware shop looking for quassia chips. Thanks to the internet, I can tell you it’s a herbal cure for using the bark of a small tree that grows in the tropics. Back then, it was something that was kept in a brown sack on the top shelf of the hardware store, requiring quite a bit of effort to get it down.
Later, my father brewed up a concoction in an old tin, simmering the quassia chips for an eternity, then combed the brown liquid through our hair, literally using a fine tooth comb.
Quassia chips seemed like something from a witchdoctor’s bag of tricks. Other cures were a lot simpler.
If you had a flea bite, the medical advice was not to scratch it. Telling a kid not to scratch something means the exact opposite is done. Then the weeping spots were doused in cold tea. If you had a sty in your eye, you’d have to sleep with a teabag stuck to your eye. If you were stung by a bee then your mother applied vinegar.
Thanks to the internet, I can tell you it’s a herbal cure for using the bark of a small tree that grows in the tropics. Back then, it was something that was kept in a brown sack on the top shelf of the hardware store, requiring quite a bit of effort to get it down
If you were sunburnt, you were covered in a soothing pink liquid, calamine lotion, that turned white when it dried.
If you had a sick stomach, some Seven Up was boiled and then left to cool before you had to drink it. It just tasted of sweet syrup come to think of it now.
If you had diarrhea or a sick stomach, the cure was to drink boiled milk with pepper.
If you had a really bad cut that wouldn’t heal, then it was time to break out the bread poultice. This was a concoction made up of stale bread and water and the afflicted cut hand had to be placed in it for hours at a time, or the paste was applied to your leg and tied there with a ripped up clean bedsheet or pillow.
All of the cures seemed to work. At least they didn’t kill us.
The Grand has long closed. For a while it was a showroom, then a gym, then closed, then knocked down and now it’s a block of apartments with a bistro at street level and a real estate agents’ office.
Brennan’s shop is long closed, so too Drinkwater’s butcher shop. Ryan’s sweet shop is now a tattoo store. The Imco dry cleaners is long gone too, which is not a bad thing. The chemical smell that emanated from there still catches my throat thinking back on it.
The chemist shop survived for a good while after the owner’s daughter took over. It’s gone now. But with the cures in the kitchen cupboard, you had to be deathly ill to use it.