Cures for Afflicted Children

by Noah Kulwin


In an age of disease, child labor has consequences. An eleven-year-old tasked with cleaning the bathrooms at LeConte Elementary School came down with whooping cough as a result, according to his mother. As she points out, “bathrooms are health hazards,” particularly ones in elementary schools, which are essentially factories that specialize in the production of terrible and exotic diseases.

The child’s mother does not note, curiously, that according to numbers from the Department of Public Health, four percent of students at LeConte Elementary were exempted by their parents from getting vaccinations for whooping cough. Hrm. Fortunately, there are plenty of remedies for whooping cough that should satisfy even the most fervent opponent of vaccination:

• “dipping the persons affected nine times in an open grave”
• “hanging the head of a child out of the window of a train going through a tunnel”
• “take a dead beetle, hang it around the neck of a child with whooping cough and as the bug rotted away, the cough vanished too”
• “pass the child through the arched roots of a bramble bush”
• “feeding afflicted children either roasted or fried mice”;
• “give the afflicted a piece of bread made by a woman who has successively married two men, both of whom shared the same last name”
• “drinking milk a trout has been made to swim in”
•“feed the hair of the sick baby to a dog, hiding the hair in bread and butter [and] if the dog dies, the baby will recover”

Be well.

Noah Kulwin is The Awl’s summer intern.