(Mamie Hanbery) [HW: Ky 3]
Story of Easter Sudie Campbell,
(age about 72, Webber St., Hopkinsville, Ky.)
Born in Princeton, Caldwell Co., Kentucky, her parents were slaves, the
property of Will and Martha Grooms of Princeton.
Aunt Easter as she is called has followed the profession of a mid-wife
for forty years. She is still active and works at present among the
negroes of Hopkinsville.
"Yes, sho, I make my own medicines, humph, dat aint no trouble. I cans
cure scrofula wid burdock root and one half spoon of citrate of potash.
Jes make a tea of burdock root en add the citrate of potash to hit.
Sasafras is good foh de stomach en cleans yer out good. I'se uses yeller
percoon root foh de sore eyes.
"Wen I stayed wid Mrs. Porter her chaps would break out mighty bad wid
sores in de fall of de year and I'se told Mrs. Porter I'se could core
dat so I'se got me some elder berries en made pies out of hit en made
her chaps eat hit on dey war soon cored.
"If twont foh de white folks I sho would hev a hard time. My man he jes
wen erway en I haint neber seed him ergin en I'se had five chilluns en
de white folks hev heped me all dese years. Dese trifling niggers dey
wont hepe dey own kind of folks. If youse got de tooth ache I makes a
poultice of scrape irish pertatoes en puts hit on de jaw on de side de
tooth is aching en dat sho takes de fever out of de tooth. I'se blows
terbacco smoke in de ear en dat stops de ear ache.
"Wen I goes on er baby case I jest let nature hev hits way. I'se alays
teas de baby de first thing I does is ter blow my breath in de baby's
muff en I spanks it jes a little so hit will cry den I gives hit warm
catnip tea so if hit is gwine ter hev de hives dey will break out on
hit. I alays hev my own catnip en sheep balls foh sum cases need one
kind of tea en sum ernother. I give sink field tea ter foh de colic. Hit
is jes good fuh young baby's stomach. I'se been granning foh nigh unter
forty year en I'se only lost two babies, dat war born erlive. One of
dese war de white man's fault, dis baby war born wid de jaundice en I
tolds dis white man ter go ter de store en git me sum calomel en he
says, "whoeber heard of givin a baby sech truck", an so dat baby died.
"Of course youse can tell wheder the baby is gwine ter be a boy er girl
fore tis born. If de mother carries dat child more on de left en high up
dat baby will be a boy en if she carries hit more ter de middle dat will
be a girl. Mothers oughter be more careful while carrying dar chilluns
not ter git scared of enthing foh dey will sho mark dar babies wid
turrible ugly things. I knows once a young wooman war expecting en she
goes black-berry hunting en er bull cow wid long horns got after her en
she was so scairt dat she threw her hands ober her head en wen dat baby
boy war born he hed to nubs on his head jes like horns beginning ter
grow so I'se hed her call her doctor en dey cuts dem off. One white
wooman I'se waited on like hot choclate en she alays wanted more she
neber hed nuff of dat stuff en one day she spills sum on her laig en it
jes splotched en burned her en wen dat gal war born she hed a big brown
spot on her laig jes like her Mammy's scar frum de burn. Now you see I
noes yer ken mark de babies.
"Dar war a colored wooman once I'se waited on dat hed to help de white
folks kill hogs en she neber did like hog liver but de white folks told
her ter take one home en fix hit foh her supper. Well she picked dat
thing up en started off wid hit en hit made her feel creepy all ober en
dat night her baby war born a gal child en de print of er big hog-liver
war standing out all ober one side of her face. Dat side of her face is
all blue er purplish en jes the shape of a liver. En hits still dar.
"I'se grannied ober three hundred chilluns en I noes wat I'se talking
"Hee! Hee! Hee! One day dar war a circus in Hopkinsville en er black
wooman I'se war ergoing ter wait on war on de street to watch foh de
parade en wid de bands er playing en de wild varmits en things dis woman
give birth ter dat girl chile on de corner of Webber and Seventh St. Dat
gal sho got er funny name 'Es-pe-cu-liar'. (I did not get the drift of
the story so I asked her what was so funny about the name. Of course it
is a name I have never heard before so the following is what the girls
Mother said about it to Aunt Easter. M.D. Hanbery)
"Well the gals Mammy thought hit war jes peculiar dat, dat happened wen
she war er looking at the parade. (So this woman Especuliar is still in
Hopkinsville and her story is known in quite a few of the older
"Yah! Yah! I sho remember how de ole folks uster dress. De women wore
hop skirts en de men wore tight breeches. De night gowns war made on er
yoke aufull full en big long sleeves wid a cuff at de hand en a deep hem
at de bottom of de gown, dese gowns war made of domestic en wen dey war
washed en starched en ironed dey wur be so stiff dey could stand
erlone." De men en de women both wore night caps. If de gown war a dress
up gown why dey war home made knit en crochet lace in de front en lots
en lots of tucks some of dem had deep ruffles on dem at the bottom.
"Wen my Pappy kum home from de war, he war on de "Govmint" side he brung
a pistol back wid him dat shot a ball dey hed caps on hit en used dese
in de war. De Ku Klux jum after him one night en he got three of dem wid
dis pistol, nobody eber knowed who got dose Kluxes.
"Sho dar is ghosts. One night es I war going home from work de tallest
man I eber seed followed me wid de prettiest white shirt on en den he
passed me, en waited at de corner I war a feeling creepy en wanter run
but jes couldn't git my laigs ter move en wen I'se git ter de corner war
he war I said 'Good Ebening' en I seed him plain es day en de did not
speak en jes disappeared right fore my eyes.
"Den ergin I went ter de fish pond one day fishing en cotched two or
three big fish wen I went home thot I'd go back dat night en I begun to
dig sum fishing worms en my boss he saw me en axed, 'Wot I doing'. I
told him I war ergoing ter de pond ter fish dat night. He said 'don you
go ter dat pond ternight Easter foh if you does something will run you
erway.' I jes laughed at him en dat night I en my boy wese goes ter de
pond en as we war er standing in dar quiet like we heared something
squeeching like er new saddle en er horses er trotting. We listened en
waited wen something wen inter dat pond right twixt us liker er ball er
fire. Weums sho did leave dar an de next morning my boss axed me if we
cotched enthing en we told him wot we saw en he said he knowed weums
would be run erway foh he war run erway hisself.
"Course dar is hainted houses dese haints in dese places jes wont leave
you erlone. Wen I'se war er living in Princeton, Uncle Lige my Mammy's
brother en I'se moved in er cabin one Christmas day en war ergoing ter
stay dar en dat night we war er setting bore de fire en de fire light
war es bright as day, wen I looks up at de wall foh I hears er
scratching noise en dar war er big white cat on de wall wid all he's
hair standing on dat cat jos jumps from wall ter de nother en Uncle Lige
en me jes open dat cabin door en started ter de tother cabins on de
place en we deed dat thing dat war bigger den eny cat I eber seed jes
come thru dat door in de air en hit de front gate, dis gate hed er iron
weight on hit so hit would stay shot en dis thing hit at de top den wen
erway. No I neber seed whar hit went. Dis gate jes banged en banged all
night. We could heat from de tother cabin. Uncle Liga en me moved erway
next day en other people moved in dis cabin en dey saw de same thing en
nobody would stay dar. Dem some time after dis diz cabin war torn down.
"Once I hed a dream I knowed I ner bout saw hit. I alays did cook ebery
night er pot er beans on de fire foh de chilluns ter eat next day while
I war at work en Lizzie my daughter uster git up in de night en git her
some beans en eat dem en dis dream war so real dat I couldn't tell if
hit war Lizzie er no but dis wooman jes glided by my bed en went afore
de fire en stood dar den she jes went twixt my bed en went by de wall. I
jes knowed wen I woke up dat my child was sick dat lived erway from home
en wanted my son ter take me ter see her. He said he would go hisself en
see so he wen en wen he come back he hed a headache en fore morning dat
nigger war dead. So you see dat war de sign of da dream. I war jes
warned in de dream en didn't hev sense nuff ter know hit."
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