Nothing New? By Barbara Sisney Daniel

A warm summer day, filled with bright sunshine greeted us as we hurried to finish the milking and cleaning the barn.

It was a happy day for us. We were all going to Ava with Dad to take hogs to be sold at the Prock Sale barn in town. Sale day at Ava was an important day for the Douglas County area. People came from farms on sale day to sell and buy live stock and to shop with the grocers and visit with friends. Sometimes this was once a year. It was a busy time for the farm family in 1944.

Dad unloaded the hogs and brought us to the town square. My mother shopped and my little sister and I watched the people visiting.

Harve Haynes had fired up his hamburger stand down by the sale barn. Harve had the market on hamburgers long before Ray Koch started the McDonald business. I can remember the delicious hamburgers Harve made. I still like the bun fried and my meat covered with mustard and a big slice of onion and dill pickle.

Smoke from the hamburger stand tantalized the hungry men as the auctioneer’s rhythm chanted his sales.

A medicine man parked close to Harve Haynes’s hamburger stand. The man opened up his wagon to sell his medicine and kitchen gadgets. The man was a nice person and the people made their choices from his supplies. He came to town quietly and left. No one knew him or where he came from . He left Ava early and vanished like a ghost.

The peddlers who toured the western towns during the later 1800s brought a troop of entertainers with them to the dry, dusty towns of the old west. They came beating their drums and hawking their goods.

The wagon was a Carnival wagon decorated with pictures advertising medicine to cure every kind of ailment. The hucksters claimed to be making their cure-all out of rattlesnake oil.

To sell people on their snake oil they used the rattlesnake to excite the crowds with their pictures. Along with the snake, music, black-faced performers there was the demonstration of the remedy healing someone in the crowd placed there by the company. They Worked the crowd with skill. After selling the snake oil and anything a pioneer woman or man might need – elixirs, pots and pans – the huckster lead the troop out of town. With their pockets full they headed to the next town and snake oil liniment claims to cure everything.

Scammers are working everyday to take advantage of someone. They have no mercy, no consideration. They call from everywhere with their lies and deceit.

Times have changed considerably, but not human nature. We haven’t found a solution to satisfy our desires to find a new feed trough or a cure for more to see. And buying snake oil is the devil’s weapon. If he can deceive us into thinking we need more of what he has to offer, he knows he can slide us on his oily path of destruction.

The cure for the emptiness lies with our trust in Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word. 

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Matthew 16:36