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The influenza or epidemic catarrh. — Webster, 1882

Miss Carrie Ingalls, a member of the Leader Force, has been confined to the house she past week with a light touch of la grippe. – De Smet Leader, 1890

To have la grippe, or simply grippe as is used in These Happy Golden Years, is from the French gripper, meaning “to seize.” Today, we call it the flu. You might have a cold or cough, fever, sore throat, aches and pains, or chills.

Here is an advertised cure for la grippe (influenza) from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s time, back before there were anti-viral medicines to treat sufferers. Some of it seems like pure nonsense today, but a hot beverages and staying in bed is still sound advice!

1. As soon as you discover that you have la grippe, put your feet, and up to the knees if possible, in water as hot as can be borne.

2. Keep the water as hot as can be borne, by putting in more boiling water.

3. Continue this until perspiration is started. At the same time it is helpful, though not essential, to sip hot lemonade.

4. When perspiration has been well started, take out your feet, dry them quickly, wrap them in hot flannels, and lie down with hot-water bottles, hot bricks, or something of the kind at your feet.

5. Lie there till you choose to get up; and la grippe will be killed. You will probably be too weak to do much, but as la grippe is gone, your strength will soon return.

Now do not pass this treatment by as too simple to be followed, and go taking medicines, or even a full bath. Follow these directions strictly, simple as they appear to be, and you will find la grippe effectually broken.

There is true philosophy in it. And the philosophy lies here: La grippe at its seizure, is peculiarly a disease of the head. Plainly, therefore, if the blood can be drawn away from the head, so that the disease will have nothing to feed on, la grippe will have to fall.


grippe (THGY 26)