Monday, August 3, 2009

filthy old secrets

So…I’ve been neglecting this social diuretic... I mean diary...but that’s probably a goddamn good thing. I’ve got about a week left doing dirty business at the Arcadia Mill site. We’ve made a fair amount of progress. We determined the location of the community we were searching for (or so it seems) and unearthed some interesting old garbage (underwear buttons, dining utensils, pretty ceramic bits, the wreckage of a chimney, etc.), but what I’ve found to be most intriguing was the discovery of a number of patent medicine bottles. On first glance this might seem innocent enough, after all there was more yellow fever going around than you could shake a stick at, and I’ll admit that my assessment is purely speculative, but here goes…

We think that the people who lived in the structure we’re excavating were the women who worked in the textile mill. These ladies worked hard all day long and needed a little something to help them unwind at the end of the day. In the south in the 1850s, a gentleman could relax on his porch in the evenings, drinking a mint julep and shooting at squirrels, but if a woman were to imbibe of the devils drink, well…now that would have been quite the scandal. It could safely be assumed that such a woman had sex with swine or goats …probably in positions other than the missionary one.

During this time period, women were frequently advised to take medicine because of their weaker constitutions, of course. Now, these patent cure-alls were not exactly equivalent to your modern multi-vitamin. The truth is that although these health tonics may not have exactly warded off bad vapors or kept a young woman from dying of consumption, at least they made you feel good …and I mean REALLY GOOD. Why? Because these drugs contained a few ingredients that were known to improve health: opiates and cocaine.

So, alcohol was out of the question …but why get drunk when you can get high?

And now: if you can’t say it to my face, please have the decency to say it with cake.