By Harvey Tobkes

[Long term memory is a strange and powerful phenomenon. For older people, sometimes events from long ago just pop up from the depths of your brain cells.]


This morning while having breakfast, I remembered Mr. Abe Silverstein (the barber who gave me my first haircut) coming to our house and applying cups to my chest to relieve a bad cough. First he held the cup at arm’s length and then he lit a match to ignite it (or perhaps he used a cigarette lighter) and then the cup erupted in a blue flame and made a “whoosh sound” like a rush of air, and then he put it to my chest and I felt a pulling or a sucking out sensation, as if it were pulling the cough out of my chest.

After the flame died, (it was probably getting it’s fuel from alcohol), it was dead and lost its power. It was all voodoo science and I doubt that it had any helpful effect but in those days (1935) it was thought to be the best available treatment.

Barbers, who in medical history (since the beginning of the Middle Ages) were said to be the first surgeons, were still being used in 1935 to do ‘cupping.” I was 7 years of age at the time.

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