Mamaw’s Cough Remedy

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   November 20, 2016

                                    

The cashier put the bottle in a skinny brown bag that shouted “Booze!” I walked at a brisk pace out of the store like a CIA operative stealing a hard drive from a foreign power. I felt more guilt than a Baptist sitting in Starbucks on a Sunday morning!

The bag held a bottle of Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon. Somewhere in my memory this purchase destined me for the Lake of Fire. I had never…ever…ever bought a bottle of hard liquor before in my lifetime. Back in Ironton, Ohio, the state liquor store on Third Street was one place you didn’t get close to, lest you become tainted.

But the cough had lingered! My night time sleep was like a horizontal relay team passing the imaginary baton from one coughing episode to the next. And then my dad reminded me of Mamaw Helton’s cough remedy: One part honey and at least one part bourbon!

He told me of the time my Mama and Papaw Helton had come to visit them in Ironton from their farm in Oil Springs, Kentucky. My Papaw asked my dad to go to the liquor store and buy him a bottle of bourbon, to which my dad replied, “Dewey, why can’t you go and buy it?” Mamaw Helton piped in, “He can’t because of the church!” They were proud members of a United Baptist church, known for being a church of teetotalers and a few backwoods moonshiners.

My dad said, “Well, this is where I live and I’m a deacon in the church.” I asked him how the story played out and he told me he went and bought my Papaw Helton a bottle. Evidently my Papaw was okay with the drinking part, but committed to never entering the store that sold the drink.

So, as I coughed, like an old Chevy trying to start its engine, I went to the liquor store!

I had also rationalized that my brother, Charles Dewey, now works as a tour guide at the Woodford Reserve Distillery outside of Frankfort. If I bought a bottle, in some weird way, it would promote job security for him. When I looked at the price difference between his brand and the others I considered that he needed to be responsible for his own job security. But then I thought that perhaps…just perhaps…the price difference was because Woodford Reserve went down smoother and tasted as sweet as a piece of rock candy. If I bought that cheap Jim Beam it might be like drinking one of those generic cans of cola compared to drinking a Pepsi. It might completely distort my impression of what Kentucky bourbon tasted like.

So I bought it! At the counter I informed the lady that my brother was a tour guide at the distillery of my chosen bottle. She looked at me and with a face completely void of expression replied, “Ah-huh!” End of sales transaction!

That night I anxiously opened the bottle of the miracle potion. I was a bourbon virgin about to have my first sip experience. “Would it taste like Pepsi?” I asked myself, “Or more like Vernor’s?”

I poured about an ounce into a cup and mixed in the honey. This was the big moment…the moment of healing, the exorcism of my coughing demon! I tipped the cup up and took my first swig.

“Good Lord!” I stammered. My fear of being cast into the Lake of Fire was being preceded by a burning flow of lava down my throat. I could feel some of the hair on my chest shriveling up and falling off. Kentucky bourbon is the twin brother of castor oil!

“Lord, help me!” I stared at the other half of the dosage I still needed to force down. I pinched my nose and once again let the fire enter in. Then I stared at the bottle of bourbon that still contained about 97% of its contents.

“How do people drink this? Better yet, how did my Papaw Helton drink this?” I could feel the fire in my throat dripping down into my stomach.

That night, however, I slept soundly! Seven hours of sleep is worth one moment of torture!

Explore posts in the same categories: children, Freedom, Grandchildren, Humor, Parenting, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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2 Comments on “Mamaw’s Cough Remedy”

  1. Jeff Sexton Says:

    I will pray for you, Bill. Backslidden,though you may be. Hehehehehehe. I love your writing

  2. Sue Davis Says:

    Oh my goodness! That was hysterical!! Another Baptist headed down the road of perdition! I’ll pray for your sorry soul…… In my house growing up, we were given a Hot Toddy when we had a bad cough or cold. 1 Tablespoon honey, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon CHEAP bourbon in the bottom of a mug then hot tea was poured over it. Soak in hot tub while sipping the concoction. We kids HATED the taste but drank it because we got to drink something “adult” that way. That stuff would break a fever and unplug a congested nose or chest in record time. Glad you got some sleep and I’m sure Carol is too!!!


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