Poor Tante Neita had many issues over the years. I remember visiting her as a child. I asked my mom and dad, what was in the large bottle that was always at her side when we came over for faspa. I was told it was “cough medicine”. Each bottle came with a plastic star with the number 5 on it. Tante Neita used to give me the plastic star by prying it off the bottle with the corner of her removable denture plate. (I was no longer hungry for faspa after watching her take out her teeth and prying it off the bottle!) I pinned the star to my shirt while playing cowboys and Indians. I was a five star sheriff who’d bring an end to all crime in Steinbach! There were some older folks in the neighborhood that questioned where I got my sheriff’s badge. I guessed that even old people got jealous. Tante Neita needed so much medication that eventually there were enough badges to go around for all the kids in the neighborhood.
Tante Neita’s condition seemed to get worse. She had to continually sip hoost medzien during every one of our visits and the bottle was always nearly empty before we left. It did have an odd effect at times. One time we visited her in the Menno home when she was trying to help one of the other residents with his cough. It seemed that there was not enough medicine for the both of them and they began to argue and throw empty medicine bottles at each other. The hoost medzien seemed to work though. I never heard Tante Neita cough.
Tante Neita switched to a different brand of medicine in later years. It was called Crown Royal. Sadly, it did not come with a plastic star. It did however come in a purple satin bag. She used to give us cookies in these purple bags and mom kept one to store her makeup.
Plautdietsch word of the day: hoost medzien
Pronounced: hous’t med-zeen
What it was said to be in some Mennonite households: cough medicine. There were many variations; Jägermeister, Dr. Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey brand. But only Seagrams made the 5 Star version.
What it really was: whisky (not limited to any particular brand)
Here's me as the Mennonite sheriff of Steinbach.
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