MMR, Measles, and Milk Toast

Kids don’t come down with measles anymore. Did you have it as a child?

Because of the MMR vaccine, which protects against mumps and rubella as well, measles has been declared eradicated in the US for a couple of decades. It was one of the most contagious diseases.

Measles is a highly contagious disease which lasts a week or more. It usually begins with fever, cough, runny nose, and inflamed eyes. A rash, starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body, usually starts three to five days later. Common complications include diarrhea, earache, and pneumonia.

I think I’d just started school (about 1950) when I came down with it. So did my sister, two years younger. Mom kept us in the downstairs bedroom with the shades pulled, because of the belief at the time that light might increase the chances of losing your vision.

It was hard to pursue our coloring book artwork in such a gloomy room. The house didn’t have closets but a wardrobe sat along the wall. Our tiny starched and ironed pinafores, which Mom embellished with embroidered lambs, hung in the wardrobe, which holds bedding today in our basement.


Mom’s family came down with measles in the mid-1920s. Delbert and Donald probably brought it home from school and infected the rest of the youngsters.

Leora concocted a remedy for each one of the sufferers, probably the same one created for her as a child, milk toast.

Milk Toast (Poem) Recipe

Place cubes of bread, 
preferably homemade, 
in a favorite bowl. 
Add a little milk. 
Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Carry to a darkened room, 
for a suffering child 
to bask in mother's comfort.


  1. Never heard of milktoast as a remedy for measles. In fact, my father-in-law often eats it when he needs a late-night meal. My wife finds it “just enough,” too.

  2. I had it, as well as German measles and mumps–all pretty much in one year, to my memory. My bedroom was darkened, but I was forced to stay in bed. “Land of Counterpane.”
    That milk toast is what my babysitter neighbor used to feed her family for breakfast. Only they used Wonder bread . . . .

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