Snakeoil - venom - was added to buffalo-camp alcohol. From neither corn nor rye, John will not call it whiskey. Snakeoil gave bite and substance - poison, addling thought, vision, co-ordination... digestion. It impressed the skinners, commanding higher price. John left them to it.
Misnamed snakeoil salesmen of patent medicine were far more worrying. John's mother, desperate for ease, taken from herself by pain and fever, had begged for specific bottles of coloured water, and worse. John has an indelible horror of what so often contains tincture of mercury. Pictures of its effects in dental manuals - alveolar processes exfoliating - are nightmarish.
Years: 1872, 1866