In today’s entry of “The Flowering Vine,” “Mother,” who was both my and Ron’s Grandmother talks about natural healing as well as barriers to healthcare and education for ‘Colored’ people in the Jim Crow South. She also discusses a bit more about her own education.
For those of you who are interested, I included a link in today’s story to a book about Mother’s school, Ballard Normal, in Macon, GA.
It is important to note that students at ‘Ballard’ were being groomed to pursue careers in education as opposed to more traditional vocations.
It should also be noted that “Mother,” whose name was Annie Maude, lived to be 100 years old.
She passed away in the Spring of 2012.
By the way, although “Mother” was highly educated and very well read, she typically used an informal conversational style in the vernacular of that timeframe–especially when speaking with close family and friends (which all of you are!)
Much of Mother’s recollections for today’s story are set in Alabama during the early to late 1920’s.
Get out that book and come go with me and Elvy down to the patch!
You hear me?
I ain’t gon’tell you no mo.’
Now listen here, when we get out there, I want you to watch how me and Elvy go through them bushes.
Watch what we pick!
One day you gon’ need them same plants to make your teas and rubs for when you get married and your chillun’ get sick and thang.
We ain’t always gon’ be ‘roun’ to do it for ya.
You gon’ have to learn for ya self now!
Chile, I wasn’t thinkin’ ‘bout goin’ out in no woods lookin’ for nothin’!
I wasn’t hardly thinkin’ ‘bout that!
But you know that didn’t stop Mama from makin’ me go with her and Aunt Elvy to hunt for herbs.
As I got older, I wish I hadda paid more attention to what they was doin’ because Mama and Aunt Elvy-nem knew how to find all kind of plants, roots and herbs to make teas, tonics and tinctures.
They could cure just about any sickness under creation!
Lemme tell ya, one time I got so sick from throwin’ up I started havin’ what they call a ‘bilious attack!’
You know that’s when you go to dry-heavin’ ‘cause ain’ nothin’ left on your stomach but yellow bile.
Chile, Aunt Elvy fixed me some tea made out of somethin’ she got out them woods…
Lawd have mercy!
I don’t know what it was but after I drank it I soon got alright.
Folks have said that Mama-nem knew how to do root work too….but I ain’t never seen ’em do it.
All I know about is the cures they had for regular ailments.
I ain’t never seen ‘em do no Hoodoo!
Hmmm….Gwin, I say, I ain’t never seen ‘em do Hoodoo but that don’t mean they ain’t never done it!
I learned long time ago to never say ‘never.’
But you know what? They say Ma Hallie could lay her hands on folks and heal an injury …say she didn’t use nothin’ but her hands!
You reckon folks thought that was Hoodoo?
Back then, we had to work with what we had ‘cause Colored people couldn’t just run to no medical doctors or psychiatrists or nothin’like that.
You know them White doctor’s wouldn’t take no Colored patients-even if they did have the money to pay ’em.
It was just a shame!
I’ve known folks to bleed to death ’cause no White Doctor would help ’em!
Anyway, Mama-nem wanted me to learn ‘bout them herbs but nooooo, at that time, I was more interested in gettin’ my lesson.
See, you gotta remember back then a lot of folks didn’t go to school so they couldn’t read too well.
And if they was able to go to school they usually didn’t go no farther than the elementary grades.
I’m talking’ ‘bout white folks too now!
And even then people usually had to quit so they could work and help take care of the family.
Chile, times was hard for everybody!
Children these days ain’t got no idea how hard it used to be to get an education.
Some of ‘em take it for granted.
Honey, in my day, it was near’ bout impossible for folks to go past the 8th grade.
I just thank the Lord that I had a chance to go a little higher than that.
You see, after I finished 8th grade over here, Mama-nem used what little money they had to send me to school over in Georgia.
While I was there I completed both the 9th and the 10th grade!
I was on a path to become a teacher!
But not too long after I started the 11th grade, Ma Hallie called me back home ‘cause Mama had done got bad off.
Of course I had to help take care of her so I never did get to go back to school.
Hmm hmm hmm!
But you know The Lord knew what he was doin’ ‘cause if I had stayed over in Macon, I might not have ever met and married Leroy and none of y’all woulda been born!
Shole wouldn’t have been!
Gwin, look at me! I been doin’ all the talkin!’
“That’s alright Grandma, I love hearing those old stories!”
Humph, when I was your age I used to like to listen to the ‘old folks’ tell stories too.
Now it looks like I’m the ‘old folks.’