Caussey's Corner

Caussey’s Corner: The Purge, or a Spoonful of Daddy’s Tonic

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As I was growing up, medical doctors were in short supply and never seen. I recall seeing the doctor three times in my life prior to going off to college. I got the mumps in the second grade and was banished for what seemed like perpetuity from school.

Then in the fifth grade a shotgun recoil cut and broke my left thumb. I went to the doctor two days after the mishap with only the skin holding the thumb to the hand. But when the thumb began to hurt, especially during the 20 stitches part, I thought about the turkey gobbler I felled and the dumplings served with him that following Sunday.

My senior year, I was in a truck accident and broke my collarbone. Patient and kind Dr. Balch fixed the shoulder halter to keep the bone immobile while it healed. That was the extent of my medical experience, and while I was fortunate to have a wonderful doctor who understood the ways of boys, I have yet to develop a fondness for physicians in general.

My dad, Pat Caussey, would remind the family regularly that the reason for our reasonably good health was because of the wonderful elixir he administered each fall and spring to the family.

At the end of winter each year, as the cold panhandle winds ceased their frigid moaning and the ground brought forth new life, Dad gave us the “Dosing.” The name and procedure remind me of what we did to livestock when treating for worms and dehorning. In fact, I think Dad felt both processes were one and the same.

“Now you kids gather round,” he would say early some spring morning. Into a spoon, which seemed the size of one of the Great Lakes, he would pour a black, syrupy substance whose odor had already cleared our sinuses when he had opened the bottle.

“Now this ain’t gonna hurt one bit, kids. Remember how it cured those ringworms last summer, Durhl?”

Although I was small at the time, I was clever enough to know that just because it cures something on my head doesn’t necessarily mean it was good medicinally in my stomach. But that didn’t stop Dad. He applied the anointing quite liberally anyway.

Caussey's Corner: The Purge, or a Spoonful of Daddy’s Tonic

Photo: envato elements

As I closed my eyes, he would place the spoon next to my tightly squeezed shut lips, protecting my grinding teeth, and say that I had a choice. I always admired my dad for giving me choices in my decisions, choices that were most always disagreeable with my good self-interest.

“Now, Son, you can either take ‘the cure’ or we can walk out to the woodshed.”

I don’t know if you have ever visited a woodshed, but I can tell you that it is not a friendly place. There are all kinds of items lying around that can be placed with a certain degree of force across an anxiously waiting and puckered behind.

With mixed feelings I would take the cure, trading a confused stomach for a busted behind. Ten minutes or so after this christening my stomach would feel like the Gates of Hell and all the demons there were banging at my stomach’s gate. In my attempt to eradicate the purge, I would often just make it to the privy, sometimes I wouldn’t.

Dad was right, we didn’t get sick much. But for the next few days after this procedure, I spent more time going to and coming from the privy than I did pursuing any other endeavors. I thought that if I ever did get sick, Dad would give me another dose of his tonic, so I always claimed to be healthy regardless of my medical status.

Caussey's Corner: The Purge, or a Spoonful of Daddy’s Tonic

Photo: envato elements

Years later, on a cold wintry afternoon as Dad and I played a game of “heads up” dominoes, I convinced him to tell me the ingredients to his famous elixir. We had been laughing about the days gone by, and the biannual purge was one of our favorite topics.

Dad told me he had gotten the ingredients from Grandma Caussey who had received it from her mother. Grandma Caussey was born in Alabama in 1864 and had lived near a Cherokee Indian family where her mother had received the recipe.

Dad also admitted the recipe had been added to over the years, but without any loss of results, he proclaimed. Daddy’s Purge was a blend of: coal oil (use liberally), whiskey, (one-half cup), Black Draught Laxative, (small box), shell powder, (1 TS), White Clover Brand Salve (a big glob), molasses (one third of a jar), and vinegar (full cup). Plus a secret ingredient that you can not find anymore, he added with a wink, as if Black Draught and Clover Salve are on store shelves everywhere.

Today we had our first cold snap. If this had happened 50 years ago, we kids would have been lined up waiting for the administration of the cure.

Dad has been gone a long time now. But I think of him often and truly wish he were around, even if it meant participating in the Purge. I sometimes wondered if there is board policy for using the Purge at the school where I taught. I had a second period class of 7th graders that I felt could benefit from this educational experience.

Durhl Caussey is a syndicated columnist who writes for papers across America. He may be reached at this paper or [email protected]