I’ve been called a lot of things and some of which I couldn’t even spell. I’ve been called chef, cowboy cook, coosie, cusenaro, but I like the term Cookie best.
How does a fellar acquire all these titles and did I go to school to get them? I’ve spent far more time in a cow camp than I ever did in a classroom. But being a wagon cook comes with many more titles than just those listed and involves a lot more than just cooking. Just like in ole Cookie’s time, I try to live up to the task and to the title.
I like to feed hungry cowboys and the cooking part usually comes easy, but I’ve also done a fair share of counseling (might I add it was better than that feller on TV, Dr. Phil), some dentistry work and doctoring. You won’t see a fancy framed diploma in my office, but you will get speedy service as long as it’s not at meal time! And I’ve never sent out any bills for my services.
The remedies that I pass out don’t have a prescription and most of the time refills are free, unless we have to send someone to “civilization” to get something. These cures have been around for years and some I’ve added a little of my own magic to. Here are just a few of the remedies you’ll find in my camp because when you’re forty miles from the nearest Walgreens ole Cookie’s cures will sure get you by.
The Dreaded Gaulding
That saddle fit just right in December, but when it’s July and you’re spending 12 hours a day bouncing your backside – that saddle and even your Levis have a little more give now. This presents that somewhat embarassing problem – gaulding or chaffing. I can usually tell by they those fellers walk into camp as to what the problem might be, and I just go ahead and get out that cure before they even say a thing. It’s a miracle cure that will solve this problem and thicken gravy too! Cornstarch. It’s a lifesaver in the summer months.
I had a feller come in one morning at breakfast and said, “Hey Cookie you got anything for a spider bite?” I pitched him a penny and said try this. He thought I was being smart but I told him, “Don’t let these clothes fool you I’ve been there before. Take that penny and tape it to that bite, the copper will draw the poison out.” He asked, “Will it work faster if I use a quarter?!” “No,” I answered “but make sure ole Abe was looking down on the bite so he could see what he was working on!”
In the spring and early summer in a teepee in camp there are a lot of critters that crawl around in the night and they love to make a home in your clothes and boots. If a scorpion happens to get a hold of you one of the quickest remedies is not amputation but to make a paste out of meat tenderizer and water and put it on the bite and cover with a Band Aid. It will ease the sting.
I know for sure I don’t have a dental degree. I don’t even like dentists, but I had a young feller come into camp once in New Mexico, in late December and was holding the front of his mouth. He was a little hard to understand but due to my psychic powers and his mumbling I understood that a yearling had kicked him the front teeth. The cold air rushing by that broken tooth was making him talk in tongues. I told him I wasn’t authorized by the ADA but I did have a quick fix to cap his tooth. He didn’t care what I did as long as I could get the pain to stop. We set a chair by ole Bertha (my stove and dental assistant). I went to the top drawer of the chuck box (where I keep my medicinal supplies) and found the only thing I thought might work. I placed a green stick in his mouth to hold it open and told him, “Whatever you do don’t bite me or close your mouth until I’m finished.” I got me a measuring cup and a paring knife and commenced to go to work. I warmed up some JB Weld* and spread it over the tooth with the knife, making sure it was smooth. Well that JB set up in about 10 minutes and I told him that would work until he could get to town. I did get a call from him about three weeks later and he said the dentist was not very proud of my work, but he did add that it was great thinking in a bind. I think they did end up pulling that tooth… I try to stay out of that part of New Mexico nowadays.
* JB Weld is an epoxy that is a waterproof bonding agent
A more old time approach that they used on the trail was to strike a match and let the tip burn off then crumble the match tip and one aspirin or baking soda onto a small piece of paper sack. Add a couple drops of whiskey to it and ball it all up and pack it into the tooth. The burnt sulphur from the match helps to seal the tooth and the whiskey fights infection and eases pain. Who knew!
I always keep a bottle of Bigeloil on the wagon. It is actually a liniment made for racehorses. I rub it on soar muscles or dissolve in a warm bath. I have also rubbed it on a feller’s torso and wrapped it in plastic when he broke a rib to ease the pain. But be careful, it can blister if wrapped too long.
You can also place a small bottle of aspirin tablets into a small bottle of vinegar. Allow the mixture to set overnight and then rub the mixture onto sore muscles in the morning to alleviate pain.
Now my sewing skills go way back to when I was a child darning socks stretched over a lightbulb, Ive sewed up many hole in a coyote pelt and even a man’s elbow. A horse had run him into a gate and left a pretty good gash. I didn’t use horse hair like they did back then but instead used dental floss soaked in whiskey. He did have a drink or two before we started, and I had one too, to steady my aim.
Scrapes, Soars and Burns
An old cowboy had a scrape on his arm from running into a barbed wire fence. He would break a cactus pad in half and rub the juice on his arm. The juice would help the healing process like aloe. You can also get bucked off in a prickly pear patch and call it acupuncture!
Sore Throat or Cough
This is an all-time favorite elixir! To make a hot toddie fill a coffee cup with about one-third of whiskey. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice, a tablespoon of honey and fill the rest with hot coffee. Drink to ease a sore throat and cough. I have known some fellers who pretended to cough just to have another magic elixir!
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