Lake County History, Chapter 100: Aunt Hester’s “Medicine”

“The pools at Seigler Springs are inside a great building. There is a warm pool, a cool pool, and a hot. It is the fashion to enter the warm, then the hot, and finish up in the cold. Stone steps lead down into the water. Every person seems to be having a relaxing time. There is a group of men in one corner. They are discussing bear fighting and cockfighting. Another group is enthusiastically looking forward to a boxing exhibition to be given at Harbin Springs nearby. The ladies chat about needlepoint, babies, and the impossible task of keeping domestic servants. With the lowered voices, they talk about the interesting fact that the waters of Witter Springs are supposed to cure a social disease. ‘Well,’ I tell Aunt Hester, ‘When you consider that most of us know someone, who has gone there… Well, it certainly opens the room for conjecture.’ “

“It is almost time for lunch. Where has the morning gone? A maid collects our wet bathing gear, and we hurry back to our hotel rooms. The sun is now quite high. The ladies put up their parasols. Aunt Hester is very red in the face and a bit unsteady on her feet. It was a mistake for a woman of her years to sit so long upon the ground, even though it appears to be quite dry. Her medicine bottle is empty, and she is chewing a clove to sweeten her breath. I am certain she will feel much better after she has eaten.”

“There is barely time to freshen up in our bedrooms before the dinner bell sounds. The dining room looks much the same as it did for the breakfast hour, which is rather disappointing. Nevertheless, there is a nice touch. Someone is at the piano in the next room, playing ballads for the leisure of the diners. The napkins are formed into the shape of a miter.”

“The first course is vegetable soup. It is followed by Bass with Georgian Sauce. Then we have a choice of corned beef and cabbage, dollops of beef, ham with raisin sauce, or tongue with red sauce. The game course offers venison roast with currant jelly, bear steak, and boiled duck and dumplings. There are also oysters baked in the half-shell, barbecued blackfish, calves head with brain sauce, broiled pig’s feet, and broiled tomatoes stuffed with macaroni and cheese. We have a choice of mashed potatoes, boiled onions, pickled beets, Lima beans, cabbage, stewed dried corn, and baked winter squash. The pastry tray offers pumpkin pie, rice pudding, bread pudding, almond cakes, and rhubarb pie. For dessert, there is ice cream.”

“A rather unpleasant episode occurs when one of the female guests forbids her children to eat the ice cream. The child throws the offending dish on the floor. It is taken off by a nursemaid, screaming and kicking and probably to be spanked. ‘Well,’ I whisper to Aunt Hester, ‘One cannot blame the mother for her concern, although I am certain it is misplaced. One should never eat dairy products of any kind unless one knows the cow. There is too much chance of disease.’

And with this dire culinary warning, her day at Seigler Springs ended pleasantly.

Next Episode: Bartlett Springs Fire

© 2017 PAL PUBLISHING/USED BY PERMISSION

To enjoy all Gene’s books, visit his website; http://genepaleno.com/

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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