Apologies for the gruesome title. The Dundee Telegraph, 4th April 1901, carried an advertisement for Hood’s Sarsaparilla with this very headline. The incredible efficacy of the tonic (supposed to contain yellow dock, dandelion, stilingia, juniper berries and….sarsaparilla, amongst other similarly benign ingredients) was described in the advertisement by one Mrs Cox of 85 Montague Road, Clarendon Park. Mrs Cox wrote:
“I was afflicted about eight years ago with an ulcerated leg and ankle, and have tried every possible remedy I could get; also, various doctors, one of them advising me to have my leg taken off, but my husband strongly objected [Mrs Cox didn’t have an opinion, one assumes].
After another year of misery and suffering I was advised to go into the infirmary. I did so, and after having had three outpatient notes, they turned me out incurable….Imagine my feelings when told this, as my torture, day and night, was past describing, my leg getting so bad that I was unable to get about, having to lie down day and night…I had long given up hope of ever recovering the use of my leg, till one day I read an advertisement of Hood’s Sarsaparilla, and then I had another hope.”
Mrs Cox asked her husband to buy some Hood’s ‘blood tonic’ and would you believe that after consuming just one 3d bottle she was able to walk again! After two months and three bottles she was completely cured, resumed her daily work and walked as though there had never been anything the matter with her. What an amazing tonic (20% alcohol, 20% vegetable extracts, 60% water).
Mrs Cox was born Priscilla Townsend (1850-1924) in Oldbury, Worcestershire. She married railway wagon builder Luke Cox (1849-1941) in 1871. After marriage Priscilla and Luke lived next door to Priscilla’s parents in Oldbury, Worcestershire, where their first three children were born. By 1882 they had moved to Leicester. In June 1886 the family lived at 26 Edward Road, where their son Harry (1885-1899) was born. Between 1891 and 1901 Priscilla and Luke moved from Edward Road to 85 Montague Road with their adult children Laura (1875-1960 dress maker at home), Albert Edgar (1879-1965), Alice (1881-1954), schoolgirl Gertrude May (1889-1937) and a boarder.
In 1905 the Cox family moved to 120 Howard Road where they lived out their days. Priscilla died in March 1924 and was buried at Welford Road Cemetery with both her legs. Daughter Laura and the granddaughters moved in with Luke in 1929, presumably to help take care of him as he was by now in his 80s. Luke died in 1941 and was buried alongside Priscilla.
As an interesting aside, Laura’s husband was Friedrich Otto Pechmann (1979-1956) who was born in Berlin in 1879. They married Laura at St John the Baptist, Clarendon Park, in 1903 and moved into together at number 116 Howard Road, two doors down from Priscilla and Luke. Three children came along – Ella Gertrude (1909-1978), Hilda Louise (1913-1947) and Lorna Irene (1915-1976). As an enemy alien Friedrich – who by this time had anglicised his name to Frederick Peckman – may have spent the first world war in a prisoner of war camp. It wasn’t a successful marriage. By the time Laura moved in with her father in 1929 she and Friedrich had separated. Friedrich lived in Manchester in 1939. At the start of the second world war was exempted from internment as a Category B risk and allowed to live, supervised, in the community. However, in July 1942 he was recategorised as a high security risk and sent to a prisoner of war camp. He died in Manchester in 1959.