Watercooler Ammo: So She Asked FDR to Cure Her Hiccups


Mangesh, Stephanie, Ethan and I put out a daily newsletter called Watercooler Ammo. This weekend I'll be sharing a few recent editions. If you'd like this kind of thing delivered to your inbox each morning, subscribe here!

Everyone has a cure for hiccups. Sugar and water. Drinking from the other side of the glass. Trying to remember what you had for breakfast on Thursday.

But if those things fail, you can always try what Anna Mayer did in 1944 — appeal to the president for help.

First, an AP story from February 1944:

"Anna Mayer, 21, now in her 44th day of hiccuping, looked to President Roosevelt today to aid her in getting rid of the affliction which, she says, has caused her to lose 34 pounds."

Sadly, it wasn't FDR's super-secret hiccup remedy Mayer was after.

She was hoping the president could pull a few strings to grant her doctor, who was serving in the Army Medical Corps, a leave of absence. In 1941, Dr. Lester Samuels had successfully (albeit temporarily) cured her after a 42-day hiccup attack.

FDR came through, Dr. Samuels was granted emergency leave, surgery was performed, and hiccuping ceased.

Until 1947.

Since it worked the first time, Mayer reached out to the Commander in Chief once again. President Truman followed FDR's lead and summoned Dr. Samuels, who worked his magic one more time, making Anna Mayer possibly the only person whose hiccups were cured by two different administrations.

(Around this time The New York Times ran a piece on alternative hiccup cures that included this wonderful paragraph: "[Mayer] ate some moldy green cheese. Then she drank as much beer as she could without pausing. No luck.")

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