I’ve been thinking about my grandfather a fair amount these past few days. No, it’s nothing incredibly nostalgic that’s got me: it’s August allergies.
A couple of years ago, when I was sneezing with bleary eyes, my mom told me that her dad had to deal with hay fever and other allergic ailments as August reached its midpoint. Grandpa pretty much retired from farming in the late 1950s – although he and Grandma stayed on the farm until 1972 – so he was dealing with pollen and dust allergies in the days when there weren’t a lot of remedies available.
On days like today when some type of pollen makes my eyes water and clogs my head, I take an antihistamine or two and I pretty much stay indoors. (At the moment, we have two windows open for the cats’ entertainment, but soon those will be closed and the air conditioning will be on for the remainder of the day.) And I cope.
For most of his farming life, Gramps had none of those options available. From what I found online this morning, antihistamines weren’t available until the mid-1950s at the earliest, and Grandpa, who was born in 1891, grew up farming and got his first farm about the time he and Grandma got married in 1915. And what with milking and other required chores, as well as haying and harvesting whatever was ready to be picked, staying indoors (without air conditioning, of course) was not an option. I recall Mom saying that when he was out on the tractor during August, Gramps would sometimes wear a bandana over his nose and mouth, and that he’d go through several bandanas a day. Thinking about it, I suppose it provided some relief, but if one is already having difficulty breathing, it must have been hard drawing breath through what must quickly have become a soggy bandana. Even so, it must have been helpful.
Could I tough it out like Grandpa did? Well, if my living depended on it like his did, yes. We do what is necessary. But thankfully, I don’t have to. I can stay indoors in the cool, filtered air and be a lot less miserable with my allergies than my grandfather was as he tended to his farm so many years ago.
As to music to go along with those thoughts, well, some time ago, I ran across a track whose title – if not its content – fits here today, and it’s by an artist whom I’ve featured in this space only once before. Here’s Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” as covered by Solomon Burke. It was released on Atlantic 2288 in 1965 as the B-side to “Tonight’s the Night,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.
Tags: Solomon Burke