She grimaced. The patent medicine wagon was in town. Ma would want to buy a new bottle of Dr. FlimFlam’s Women’s Magic Elixir in a Bottle. Said to cure warts, dropsy, the shakes, ague, fainting, sour stomach, fallen arches, bunions, worms, skeeter bites, hysteria and was vital to women issues to delicate to discuss in public.
Dr. FlimFlam was a showman; he had the ladies of the town swooning with his good looks, flattering speeches, testimonials from young beauties perfect in society’s view of womanly perfection was, and excellent salesmanship.
Sure enough, when they got to town, the crowd had started to gather. A bit of jostling to get up front. They would get more attention, perhaps a free bottle of Dr. FlimFlam’s Miracle Cream for Women guaranteed to fade freckles, soften hands, make cheeks rosy, lips “kissable,” (many in the crowd blushed at this).
She literally bought none of it! It was an imitation full of false promises for gullible women. She knew her botany, and home medicines. His magic elixir was juniper, devil weed, laudanum, moonshine (if the temperance women only knew) and water. No wonder women felt better – the laudanum and alcohol would cure most pains until it was time to take another dose.
Her inheriting her grandmother’s knowledge of the healing qualities of native plants created a rift with her mother who believed firmly in modern medicine – after all it was the nineteenth century, and country around here was civilized. Grandmother brought with her the ancient Celtic spells and combined it with local native lore and awareness and reverence for nature. She had a vague memory of her grandmother and an ancient native woman rocking on the porch exchanging secrets. The native woman said a few words over a feather she held in her hand, pointed it to all the corners, to all the forces of nature, then put the feather in my grandmother’s gnarled fingers, yet still nimble enough to pick for her potions, and knit the eternal scarf each child received for their birthday and Christmas.
She pushed herself further and further back into the crowd until she was free of the crush of skirts and hats. She needed to go to her asylum, the truly magical place where her grandmother and her native friend spoke to her, teaching her the way towards healing.
As she left, she heard Dr. FlimFlam complimenting her mother on how much her health and looks had improved from using his products, gave her a sample, knowing that her mother would order more.