Yesterday I wrote at length about an old book, Take to the Hills, by Marguerite Lyon. It is her story of the changes that she and her husband had to endure as they left their professional lives in Chicago and began operating a small and very primitive farm in the Ozark hills near Mountain View, Missouri. Mrs. Lyon's book contained a poem about an old granny woman taking care of the medical needs of the hill folk.
While many of us have probably not come across a real "granny woman" during the course of our lives, this poem should at least remind us of everyone's favorite fictional doctor from the hills, Granny Clampett!
The poem, "The Old Nurse" is by Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey and was part of a volume by her entitled Ozark Lyrics. I am dedicating this telling of it to my good pal of nearly fifty years - Xobekim - because it more than likely references one of his relatives. Enjoy it, Mike.
The Old Nurse
by Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey
Granny was humming an old, old tune
In her sweet voice, broken and thin,
Busily making small shapely bags
And tying up seeds within.
"When Ruth Box's young'un gits took down
Straight away she sends for me,
She knows I can drive one's fever out
With my good old pumpkin seed tea.
Onc't when Dr. Ralph had been called
An' left not a powder ner pill,
While Jake Stevens galloped off to town
With Doc's perscripshun to fill
I saved the Stevenses baby's life
Frying onions in polecat grease,
Bindin' 'em hot to her little throat,
An' soon she was sleeping' in peace."
Watermelon seed and saffron,
Witch hazel bark and rue,
The lining of chicken gizzards,
And toasted eggshells, too;
I knew that catnip and other herbs
Hung in the attic above:
"Just notions," her smiling daughter said,
But I smiled and said: "Just love!"