The Flowering Vine: Mother Speaks on Botanicals and Books



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. 


Annie Maude!

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.’
I’m tellin’ you chile!
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.
Especially Coloreds.
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.’

58 thoughts on “The Flowering Vine: Mother Speaks on Botanicals and Books

    1. Thank you Sis!
      Funny thing is, your grandmother’s 3rd grade education was probably comparable to some of today’s kids 6th grade education.
      Back then, they had to pack as much in as possible.
      Both Ron and I thank you for reading and liking the series 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Shole as eggs is eggs chile, ahh nu this was goan be a good story! Chile, I so deep in the story, I disappointed when it ended. I near tripped ova the en’ of the story lookin’ fo the rest of it!
    I loved this story Lady G and it was good of you to allow ‘Mother’ to speak again. So authentic, so rich in history, so relevant to present day. After all, history was the present and the present is history …
    Thanks Lady G – ‘Mother’ would be proud!
    Lady M xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re a terrific writer. I loved the southern dialect and of course you capture the soul of Annie Maude. There’s not enough new writers that re-connect with the 1920’s in the South. I seriously saw a lot of Toni Morrison in your style. You should seriously think of writing a book. I’d be the first in-line to purchase it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Lady G, don’t mind me sneaking in through the back door. Might have to re-introduce myself huh! 😀
    Ah! you are a fine storyteller. I’ve even formed my own mental picture of what “Mother” look like based on your characterization of her. Yes, that generation of natural practitioners is slowly evaporating and I’m not sure we’re doing them justice in picking up the baton. But of course there are a number of subtexts not lost on me. So much we take for granted and much that we get taken for granted in turn.

    Hope you’re having a divine Sunday. I’m the neighbour finding my way back into the hood Girl in case you done forgot about me.
    😉 Chevvy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! Now this is a very pleasant surprise, indeed!
      So happy to see you Sis! I have had a cold for a week so I am not actually feeling my best but ‘seeing’ you here just perked me up!
      Thank you for your kind words about this post. Natural Healing started falling out of style even with Mother-isn’t it amazing that even she wishes that she had paid closer attention to herbal healing.
      As I type this, Sunday is coming down and you are probably preparing for bed.
      Pleasant dreams love and I hope to hear back from you soon.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I could really hear Mother talking through your words, Lady G. She came to life and sprang right off the page. It was like I was watching a movie. My parents never finished high school and they did just fine. However, they lived in a time where that was prevalent. The herb gathering and the mention of the “hoodoo” reminded me of something my Grandmother told me back in the day. When Mother said someone could heal by the laying on of hands that is what triggered this memory. There is an old Celtic legend about 7th daughter of the 7th daughter. As a child, my Grandmother injured her knee. The 7th daughter laid her hands on my Grandmother, applied some sort of mixture and my Grandmother’s knee felt better. Another excellent installment, Lady G! I look forward to these stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Susan.

      Funny you should mention the 7th daughter. I have read that kind of lore about the 7th son! Hell even Sheena Easton talked about the 7th son in “You shoulda been with me.”
      Just kidding love 🙂

      Actually, I am so glad that you shared that story. Yours is exactly the kind of memory that I hoped someone would share in order to prompt further discussion here in comments.
      So, is your family Irish on both sides? I love hearing about other cultures and their traditions.
      Tell me more 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually, yes. There is some English thrown in but I am a Celt. I forgot about Sheena mentioning that! My grandmother’s family came from County Cork, County Down, County Kerry & County Armagh. They were all over. I do believe we had some Travellers in the past (lol) but I can’t confirm it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow!!
          We (Ron and I) have Irish blood but we have not broken it down to locale. Ironically, it’s more prominent in Ron’s DNA….And some of that blood appears to have come from the grandpappy that I wrote the letter to.
          Travellers? Now that’s a story in and of itself! LOL!!!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. T. Wayne

    Love hearing those stories about the old home remedies! Why my mother “threatened” me with some potato soup for this cold I’m finally getting over.

    Mostly though, I love these posts because of the passing on of the lore through the generations. Much like my mother and grandmother used to tell us when we were young how things were, we now do the same to our children. I used to horrify my daughters with the stories of what my grandmother insisted we take when we were sick. All I can tell them is that while it might not have been “right,” I survived!

    Keep ’em coming…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When has potato soup ever been a threat! I’d make sure that was a promise if I were you!
      Get in the kitchen Queen Diva Lady P!
      Did I mention that I LOVE potato soup? LOL!
      Twin, thanks for mentioning the importance of passing these stories down. Our ancestors need to be real people instead of some strange distant character. They need flesh, bone and a voice! LOL!
      Even if these stories HORRIFY our children! LOL!
      Chile I can’t even imagine what your Granny made you drink when you were sick but I am going to venture a guess and say it was castor oil or cod liver oil…YUCK!!!!
      But in the end, you did survive and aren’t we all benefiting from that fact Twin? I know I am 🙂


        1. Well, at least you didn’t have to eat it with Red onion!
          Now I have heard people applying red onion and vicks to the chest for colds 🙂
          That might be better since it doesn’t involve consumption! LOL!!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Loving the authentic dialect here! The usage of double negatives (“aint doing that for nothin!”) actually makes it easier for me to understand – as it is more native to me lol. I am laughing at the “mama-nem” because I say that, and I am from the North! Whenever I talk to people some ask me what part of the South I am from because I say stuff like “ya’ll” lol

    Great story Lady G; always a privilege to be welcomed into your world! =D

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Bro. Darryl!
      LOL!!! Those double negatives really are a hallmark of old Southern Black Dialect! LOL!
      As you know, it’s highly likely that someone back in your ancestry came from the South, by way of the Motherland, so you ‘got it honest’ as we say! You are right at home with this kinda speech 🙂
      Oh, and it’s always my privilege to have you here 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. *sits quiet with the words of Lady G’s Grandmother and recognizes the gift in the telling as well as the treasure in the teller* You are a marvel, my friend. Perhaps today I learned a bit of the one from whom some of your blessings came to be. 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jet

    Sorry I don’t have it! I was just a little girl running barefoot through the blackberry patch with your dad, picking blackberries so Ma Hallie could make us a Cobbler!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jet

    I remember Ma Alliie, Aunt Elvy, and Ma Halley quite well! I remember Aunt Elvy often dabbling around in bags. But most of all, I remember Ma Hallie’s Blackberry Cobbler. If she knew hoodoo then that must have been the ingredients for the blackberry cobbler because it was delicious.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL!!! Hey Aunt Jet 🙂
      Good to ‘see’ you!
      Mother always talked about what great cooks Ma Allie, Aunt Elvy and Ma Hallie were! She told me that one of Ma Allie’s specialities was lettuce that she cooked with bacon; she talked about how good that was!
      I’d kill for the recipe to Ma Hallie’s Cobbler.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. another exceptional post Lady G, your family sure has a lot of good stories to weave and your dialect makes it as if I’m sitting right there at the supper table with you fine folks ❤ thanks for the welcome into the fold….lovvin' the hoodoo too!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. In the movie, “Driving Miss Daisy”, Hoke rebukes Miss Daisy for accusing him of not being able to see well in his old age, by stating, “Now Miss Daisy, how you know how I can see, lessen you can see through my eyes?”

    Hoke’s artful flip of the proverbial “script” may have served him well in his verbal joust with Miss Daisy, but would not have served him nearly as well, if he’d said the same to Lady G!

    Cousin, you enabled me to see through Mother’s eyes through your unique ability to bend perspective upon itself, placing us directly into the footsteps of “Mother”. No one does it like you.

    An, educational, enlightening, engrossing, enigmatic, and enriching essay on the history of our family as well as the history of our people, in general


    Liked by 4 people

    1. Cuz,
      Your comment rivals the post!
      I love that analogy.
      Can you believe that I have never seen “Driving Miss Daisy?”
      That said, I don’t really know the jokes first hand.
      Mama used to like that movie. She loved anything with “The Easy Reader!” LOL!!! That’s how she always referred to Morgan Freeman! LOL!
      Anyway, I enjoyed listening to Mother talk about the old folks! She would always say,” I know I keep saying ‘the old folks this and the old folks that,’ but at 78 (her age at that time) I’m the old folks now!
      Anyway, I’m glad you liked it. Love you!

      Liked by 3 people

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