When I was a child, there was no medicine cabinet – just a box with Vicks Salve, rubbing alcohol, Musterole for chest colds, Castor oil, Syrup of Pepsin and maybe cod liver oil.
But then there was Miss Celie!
I must describe her before you meet her. She was very petite and to me she seemed quite old. Perhaps she had a fourth grade education. She always wore an ankle length cotton print dress with a neat white bib apron to protect the dress. Her gray and black hair was pulled up tightly into a “bun” on top of her head where it was anchored with wire hairpins. Her black shoes were laced up on her tiny feet. Miss Celie always walked briskly as though her destination was of utmost importance.
Now in the spring time my mother had a firm rule that I could not go barefoot until she had seen the season’s first butterfly. On a bright sunny day when I was five years old, she had seen a butterfly, and set me free.
I immediately sat down, took off my shoes, peeled off my socks, and began my adventure! Five minutes later the shrill shriek of a little girl pierced the air! I had stepped on a rusty nail protruding through an old plank where I was playing. My mother knew the extreme danger from the rusty nail and begged my dad to drive the 30 miles to a doctor. Dad’s reply was “First, we ask Miss Celie.” (this was in 1931 in rural Kentucky)
(I’ve hesitated to write the details of this story because I’m sure no reader can imagine this really happened.
Miss Celie glanced at the rusty nail and then taking my little foot in her hand, she said, “Charlie, we need to hurry. Get an old beat-up-throw-away pan, go to your pasture, follow your cow until she drops fresh manure into the pan and rush back here because the manure must stay warm! “Nancy, you tear up a clean rag to prepare a one layer poultice around Joyce’s foot. When Charlie gets here, place the warm manure on top of the poultice and wrap with many layers of the rag and leave it on all night!” (I can’t remember who I slept with!)
The next morning the bottom of my foot was snowy white. There was no sign of where the nail entered, and there was absolutely no soreness!
Thank goodness for Dear Miss Celie, Medicine Woman!