Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dr. Pierce's Neighborhood Gossip & Dream Book

updated 5 October 2018

With a title like that, this little gem cried out to me for special attention. So here it is, Dream Book, your own special page just for you! A PDF of this title is available at Michigan State University (but, of course, it lacks my erudite commentary and great links!)

Dr. Pierce's target audience is clearly depicted here. Even in the twenty-first century,
it is the custom in rural New York State that the women gather in the kitchen to discuss affairs
(not just their own) while the men of the family gather elsewhere to watch sports on TV.
This pattern of gender segregation apparently is cross-cultural and persistent. It was reflected in the design of the Victorian homes (credit: Tristan Bridges' blog) in which many of Dr. Pierce's patients lived at the time.
Of course men gossip and dream, too, but on different topics, it would seem.
No space wasted here. The first ad appears even before the commentary begins!
Judging by the number of potions designed to cure it, digestive ailments were then and remain
among the most common and difficult to cure of any health problem afflicting the human race.
Dreams and dreaming are an interesting topic for further investigation. I wonder if Dr. Pierce
had a side business selling hats: "...a new bonnet promises a new lover."
The Dream Dictionary expands on this booklet's "interpretation of dreams" section.
Consultation by letter was a pioneering service.
"Weaknesses" make all of us look old, of course, not just women. Claims about crow's feet and black circles being "eradicated" are exaggerated as most claims of curative effect were by drug salesmen/physicians in the late1800s and early 1900s. This advertising lacks the "fine print" which warns us of side effects in the 21st century. At least Dr. Pierce listed the ingredients of his potions on his labels. This and their lack of alcohol or narcotics in most formulas were steps forward. Before 1906, you could legally put anything in a bottle and say that it cured multiple ailments, some of which were invented by the drug salesmen!

>>In 2016, a similar situation exists for "food supplements," some of which can be dangerous to your health. No dietary supplements are approved by the FDA.<<

Many of the pre-1906 remedies' secret recipes were later discovered to contain alcohol, even arsenic (poison) and addictive substances of all varieties. Page 35 of the Earl J. Arnold Advertising Card Collection 1885 elaborates on this situation. I have been unable to find any information about Mrs. Albert Skibbe or her son.
These dream interpretations are beginning to read like the daily horoscope. I suspect they are even less reliable. Which is a good thing. Do women who dream of drowning have happy marriages? Really?! Seems just as doubtful as the assertion that dreaming of drowning "brings happiness." So now I know why I'm a little short on the "prosperity and abundance" side of things. I have never dreamed of a cow. All of this is enough to make one "nervous." Fortunately Dr. Pierce (below) has the cure....   
If women pay any attention to what men say about them and listen to their sage medical counsel, it's no wonder they're nervous. Are men ever nervous? Apparently not. According to "a notebook in possession of Dr. Pierce’s grandson ... the ingredients of...Favorite Prescription [were] berberis, valerian, blue cohosh, black cohosh, and viburnum." (from The Center for Skeptical Inquiry) Dr. Sage's Catarrh remedy was part of a suite of medications sold by Dr. Pierce. He also sold a nasal douche to administer this medication. Regarding Mrs. Peter Klem above,   it was reported that on 2 February 1933 "Frances Klem, 15-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Klem of Route 2, McLouth, died Monday afternoon after an illness of peritonitis and influenza. She had been in failing health for two years."

~ Dr. Sage's Catarrh Remedy ~

Catarrh is a 19th century term describing excessive nasal discharge, for a change, not a condition invented in order to sell merchandise. Assorted decongestants and antihistamines are available to assist in the treatment of this condition today. Allergy specialists can sometimes assist patients by attempting to attack the root cause of the condition using a combination of therapy and changes in the household environment.
Here are the instructions for using the Remedy:

(click to enlarge these images)

The bottle came with this revenue stamp on the package:

...and finally, the wrapper for the bottle:

  1. Menthol - probably extracted from mint leaves
  2. Resorcin - a derivative of benzene
  3. Bergeris Aquifolium - aka "Oregon Grape" 
  4. Salt - you know what!
  5. Carbolic Acid 1% - a poison! initial anesthetic followed by burning
  6. "coloring matter, trace" - who knows what?
Here we go again. Did Dr. Pierce have something against marriage? "To dream of being married signifies death and misfortune." Not good press for matrimony, I'd say.
Morna Rowe Gray (1892-1964) was the wife of Silas David Gray (1891-1959), according to findagrave. From the same source, the "bright little baby girl" referred to above was most likely
Zelma Fern Gray. Dr. Pierce's Lotion Tablets were crushed in hot water to make the lotion. The image below was originally from "anitzy's" listing on eBay, now expired: item number 380818827413.
Dr. Pierce's medications were often accompanied by written material not only explaining the contents and use of the medications in the container, but also extolling the virtues of other Pierce formulas.

Having disposed of dream interpretations, we are now delving into recipes. I wonder what it means if you dream of Cabbage Salad or Pea Soup? Looks like there's room for some expansion of those dream interpretations!

Information on Mr. Percy W. Berry of 4 North State Street, Concord NH has not yet been retrieved. However, this is what his old address looks like in Aug. 2011, courtesy of Google Street View:

Stay tuned on that crust! Dr. Pierce needs to sell more product:

F.L. Kettle has vanished from the historical record as far as I can see. F.L.'s neighborhood, however, has not--though there have no doubt been some major changes in its character as seen on Google Maps:

Chas. C. Hannaford of Haverhill MA has disappeared, as has #29 Fountain St., although some residential renumbering may have occurred. Google maps indicates #29 may be the left half of the duplex on the right of the Street View below. The duplex might have been a single family home at one time.

So far there is no information on Mrs. Lizzie W. Best, but Mrs. John Bridgers of Elrod, NC Route 1, was most likely one of the three wives of Confederate Civil War Veteran John Bridgers

As seen on the Google Maps view below, Elrod NC is still a rural hamlet, where the Bridgers family had a road named after them.

Mrs. C.E. Lauer lived in this row house in Philadelphia PA, #5726 Vine St.:

Mrs. Daisy Roberts of Newark OH so far has not been found. From the National Museum of American History site, an image of the wrapper for Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription has been obtained (below). Whether any of the ingredients were of any use for curing the ailments described is questionable. However, there is additional testimony as to the effectiveness of Healing Suppositories (Google News).

Mrs. Raymond Searfoss, apparently no longer "run-down physically," was elected recording secretary of the Dallas PA Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in 1937.

Mrs. Charles Garrett's residence was in the township of Ward, just northeast of Little Rock AR
Signs of religious competition indicate the thriving enterprise in 21st century Ward
(while Methodists look the other way.)
The beauty of Ward is remarkable.

910 South Cowen St. in Garrett IN must have been a fair distance from the center of town in the early 20th century when Ila McKinnon lived there. Here's a 21st century view of the area from Google Earth:

The Pure Food & Drug Act of 1906 mandated the ingredients of nostrums be printed on their labels. For more of Dr. Pierce on the excellence of Dr. Pierce and his medications, read the paragraphs below. They are infused with the sexism common to the times. (From the New York Heritage Digital Collections.)

(Click to enlarge)

Ah! The (presumably) healthful benefits of electricity! Every generation explores the health applications of new discoveries. In the 21st century, while sharpening our skills using radiation therapy, we are still mining the biological world for new substances to cure our ills, as Dr. Pierce did in the previous century. 

One of many Dr. Pierce advertisements, this one was captured by Google's nine eyes in 2011 on the side of Doc Pierce's restaurant 120 N. Main St. Mishawaka IN. 
...And just in case you might be wondering how signs were painted on the sides of buildings back in the early 1900s the National Library of Medicine offers the post card reproduced below:

...And now for, for the curious, a photo of the actual stuff--aged about a century:

Contained no alcohol when bottled. Not too curious about what it contains now!
Was it ever really golden?

No comments:

Post a Comment