December 20, 2013

Childhood Memories of Flora Crawford Eschenburg, Part 4

The following transcript is from the childhood remembrances of Flora Kathryn Crawford Eschenburg who was the daughter of Samuel Cooke Crawford and Rachel Victoria Seal.

Part Four - Weather Signs, Medicine and Superstitions
Weather Signs
With our new radio, we could not receive weather reports daily as we do today so we relied a great deal on weather signs handed down from generation to generation.

  • If it thunders in February, it will frost in April on that same date.
  • If cattle huddle together or seem restless, this is a sign of a change in the weather.
  • If animals grow thick hair, it is a sign of a bad winter ahead.
  • If it frosts three consecutive days, it will then rain.
  • If it rained while the sun was shining, the saying was, "The devil is beating his wife."
  • If the horns of a quarter moon turned downward, this signifies a wet moon and the water will pour.
  • A ring around the moon enclosing stars within the ring tells that it will rain within that many days.
  • If the sun sets behind a bank of clouds, it means rain.
  • If a rooster crows before midnight, it's a sign of bad weather.
  • The first twelve days after Christmas represent the twelve months of the year and one can predict what kind of weather to expect each month.

For people who lived in the country, it was not easy to get a doctor when needed.  People relied a lot on home remedies.  Some that I remember are:

  • For croup, use mullen tea.  Mullen was a plant that grew wild.
  • Catnip teas were given for various ailments.
  • Mustard poultices made from crushed mustard seed were place on the chest for any deep congestion and especially for pneumonia.
  • Poke salad was eaten in the spring to bring good health.
  • Sassafras tea made by boiling the roots of a sassafras bush was a good spring tonic.  Sugar was added to enhance the taste.
  • Sugar and turpentine were given for coughing.
  • Woolen underwear or long johns must be worn until May 1st or you might be exposed to illness.
  • When hot packs needed to be applied, a bag of hot cornmeal mush, or hot salt, was used.  Hot water bottles were not available then.
  • Asafedeti [Asafetida] worn around the neck helped fend off germs.
  • Pneumonia was quite prevalent and when one was weak from the results and needed a quick "pick-up" they were sometimes served hot hog-foot tea.  This was made from boiling the hog feet and drinking the water.  Now we know that this provides an easily digested form of protein.  Today our gelatin is made from this source.


  • I have already mentioned that Papa didn't like starting anything on Friday unless he was sure that he could finish the job.
  • Some people believed that if a screech owl screeched near their home it meant a death in that home within the year.
  • Some believed that if you planted a weeping willow tree in your yard someone in your family would die within a year.
  • Black cats were always bad luck.  If one crossed your path, you'd better turn around and go back the way you came, find another path, or make the sign of the cross and spit to break the spell.
  • Some believed if they dreamed of the dead it would rain.
  • A lightening bug in the house was a bad omen.
  • Starting someplace and having to go back before reaching your destination was a bad omen.
To Be Continued...


Special thanks to Joan McLemore for allowing me to share her Aunt Flora's childhood remembrances.  Joan is the daughter of Flora's older sister, Dell Crawford Meadows.

Note:  Parts 1-3 of 'Childhood Remembrances of Flora Crawford Eschenburg' can be found in the Tags List on the right side of the blog, under the tag titled Crawford Family.

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