While reading an old Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog (1902), I ran across a most interesting ad. It is found on page 446 and here it is word for word, verbatim.
“Six boxes positively guaranteed to cure any disease for which they are intended. This will cure you if you feel generally miserable or suffer with a thousand and one indescribably bad feelings, both mental and physical, among them low spirits, nervousness, weariness, lifelessness, weakness, dizziness, feeling of bloating after eating, or a sense of goneness or emptiness of stomach in the morning. Flesh soft and lacking firmness, headache, blurring of eyesight, specks floating before your eyes, nervous irritability, poor memory, chilliness alternating with hot flushes, lassitude, throbbing, gurgling or rumbling sensation in bowels, with heat and nipping pain occasionally, palpitation of heart, short breath on exertion, slow circulation of blood, cold feet, pain and oppression in chest and back, pain around the loins, aching and weariness in lower limbs drowsiness after meals but nervous wakefulness at night, hangover in the morning, and a constant feeling of dread, as if something awful was going to happen.
“If you have any of these symptoms, our nerve and brain pills will cure you. No matter what the cause may be or how severe your trouble is, DR. HAMMOND’S NERVE AND BRAIN PILLS will cure you. Beware of quack doctors who advertise to scare men into paying money for remedies which have no merit.”
The ad goes on to explain that with every order, a booklet will be sent entitled HOW TO CURE YOURSELF. Laughable as this is, there are a number of good lessons to be learned from it.
First, we can thank God that we have come a long way scientifically and in the development and use of true medicine. We have laws that govern truth in lending, accurate advertising and punishment for those who engage in fraud. We have learned more in the last 20 years than we have learned in the last 2000 years.
We have lengthened life, stamped out many childhood diseases.
Yet the greatest of all needs go unchecked. We have advanced to the doctorate level in knowledge and seem to be reversing to the kindergarten stage in how life should be lived.
In 1902 few divorces were recorded. Today, 20 per cent of all marriages end in the first year and one out of two life time commitments are broken by divorce. Many are by-passing the ceremony altogether for fear of being a vital part of that statistic.
When I was growing up in Florida, I can’t remember one teenager who would commit murder or attempt suicide. The worst drug we knew was the cigarette and the whiskey bottle. Juvenile delinquency was a negligible factor and dirty language was not tolerated even before RAP music was discovered. Trouble in school meant we had trouble at home. Parents and teachers stood together as one.
Courts were conducted by circuit riders and jails were hard to find and mostly empty. Many contracts between individuals were signed and sealed with a firm handshake. To cheat or tell a lie was considered sin. An honest days wage was paid for an honest days work, and neighbors were still neighbors.
After school meant finishing chores and homework before kids met to play. We made up our own games and often the fun lasted even into the early night.
Strangers were treated as strangers but not as enemies. During hard times, those who stopped by our house for food were fed on the back doorsteps after the family ate. Everybody went to church; not as an obligation but as a privilege.
The big event when I was growing up was ‘Saturday afternoon at the movies’. From Buck Jones, to Roy Rogers, to the three Stooges and the cartoons; We were transported from the earth to heaven for an afternoon. All shows then were marked ‘GE” which meant ‘Generally Everybody”. We knew nothing of the PG’s, ‘R’s, ‘X’s, or ‘XXX’s. Those movies would be totally banned and the promoters jailed or run out of town.
In 1902, your word was your bond and most contracts were sealed with the clasp of the hands. Houses were not all that great, but the love that was shone inside was wonderful to behold. Ah yes, the home was the foundation of our nation and the center of society.
In 1883 the remains of a great American were exhumed, the coffin draped in an American flag and returned to the land of his birth. He was not a famous painter, nor eloquent in speech, or known for his great wealth. He was not an actor, or author of best selling books. He was appointed as Ambassador to South Africa but this was not the reason for his fame. Why was he brought home and why is he remembered today above many of his contemporaries?” His name was John Howard Payne and is the author of a simple song that spoke to our hearts in saying,
“Mid pleasures and palaces, through we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”
1902 was good year.