Grandma would swat this flu bug | OUR CORNER

The flu epidemic that has been working its way around the country through most schools and offices has been causing considerable havoc and bringing out all the patent treatments — a subject I am very interested in researching.

I always kid the women in the office who take the modern day patent medicines to ward off the flu, colds and grouchy editors with no hair (I don’t know anyone like that). By the way, men don’t take funny treatments. They just get sick and whine and cry for days and days — much more effective and fun.

I have never been a believer in the patent treatments, but the women in the office swear by them (even though they always get sick, but let’s keep that our secret).

I remember my mom telling by about her grandmother, Grandma Atemboski, and her patent medicines.

Mom said every Christmas Grandma would come to dinner carrying her shoebox of patent medicines. Mom was about 6 or 7 and recalled how her grandmother would always show her the shoebox of special medicines she needed for her many ailments.

Every year, Grandma Atemboski would tell her, “I probably won’t make another Christmas. See all the pills I have to take? This is probably my last Christmas.”

The patent pills must have worked. Grandma Atemboski lived to be 93. Her granddaughter – my mother – was in her 40s when she died; I was about 7 at the time.

I remember my grandmother visiting Grandma Atemboski near of her life and speaking to her in Polish. I loved hearing the rhythm of Polish.

Grandma Atemboski probably found her patent medicines from advertisements  in The Courier-Herald. Grandma Atemboski and her children lived in the  Polish community in Lower Burnett in the late 1890s when they came from Poland, or the “old country” as my grandma always said. They moved to Buckley around 1914.

A look through Courier-Herald archives in the years from 1900 on will show many patent medicines advertised every week.

Those patent pills were the medical answer, according to Grandma Atemboski. I don’t know if she ever saw a real doctor until my grandma made her go when she was 90.

I guess I better quit making fun of the women taking patent pills. Grandma Atemboski might yell at me… in Polish.