L To R, Josh Perkins, Elmer Willis, Solomon Doyle, Mae Ashworth Willis, Nora Ashworth Griffin, Shelby Ashworth

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dancing & Cleaning The Floor

One of the favorite pass times on Bearhead was to spend the day cooking. The women did the cooking and one of the things the men and boys did was racing horses. After eating late in the evening, the dance started.
One other thing, some of the men did, was to have a "snort" or a "shot" of something to drink. Not everyone drank, but a few did. Most of the time they kept their drinks outside and hidden. They hid them in very unusual place, They hid it in the trees. Small pine trees. After I had heard of this method of hiding their drinks, I had asked myself a hundred times, why hide it there? My father in-law had the answer for me. He was at many of this dances, so he knew why. The way they did was this way. They would find a small pine tree and one of them would climb it until it started to bend and they would ride it to the ground. They took some rope or string and tied the bottle or jug to the top of it and let the pine tree go and it would snap back to an upright position, with the jug in the top of it. Seems some of the characters at these dances would try to find the others jugs and steal what the drinks that others had. By putting it in the tree tops, only the ones who put it there, knew which tree it was in.
Back then, there were only two types of floors, it was either wood or dirt. Before the dance started, they went down to the creek and hauled a bunch of sand back to the house . They would spread the sand all over the floor. Then the dance started. With all that dancing and moving about over the floor, it would more or less polish that wooden floor. It would be so clean and shinny, you cold eat off of it.
The main two types of dances were either a "Square or a Jig". A square is what we know today as a Square dancing. A Jig was were you Petty much danced any way you wanted to. I have heard some old timer also called it "Buck Dancing".
My Great Grand Mother use to call these dances. That is one thing that was hard for me to believe. If you had ever heard her talk, it was with a long drawn out accent. I just could never picture her calling these dances because you had to have a pretty fast rhythm and speaking ability. Which, when she just talk, it was with a slow pace in which she spoke.

Redbone Home Remedies

The following is a list of some of the old home remedies I remember.
For bee or wasps stings you applied some tobacco juice to the bite and this helped kill the pain.
To keep babies from getting colic you smoked them. What you did was to build a fire and hold the babies in the smoke for a few seconds to smoke them. This kept them from getting colic.
Two ways to cure an ear ache is this. The first way was for someone to take a puff of a cigarette or a pipe and blow the smoke into the ear that was hurting. The other way was to take a string of a black persons hair and place it inside the ear. Everyone believed it was the oil in the hair that made the hurting stop.
One I remember well is this . As usual kids being kids would often argue and fight. Well our parents believed this really worked or just got a kick out just seeing us running races to the bathroom. I can just hear those dreaded words right now. "I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS FIGHTING AND ARGUING, WHAT YOU KIDS NEED IS A GOOD CLEANING OUT!!!!!!!!!" hhhhhaaa And a cleaning out it was. I remember well it was either castor oil or black draught. Believe me, after a dose of either one of them, you weren't interested in fighting with anyone for about six months.
Most folks who smoked rolled their smokes. The type paper they used, you could take it and burn it and it would drip an oil. You took this oil and placed it on ringworm's and that cure those.
When you stepped on a nail or glass, the first thing they did was soaked your foot in coal oil or kerosene. Then later on Epsom salt. They soaked ever thing in Epsom salt. Ever ting from sprang ankles to using it to get rid of red bugs.
There were and still are certain bushes that grow wild here in South West Louisiana, their scientific name I do not know, for as long as I can remember we were taught they were Murcul {Mur Cull} Bushes. These bushes were cut and place under the house in the yard and even in the house to get rid of fleas. I promise you this works very well to this day.
If one could afford it, they used moth balls to keep snakes away. They also planted gourds around the house and barns to also keep them away. There is just a certain odor these two things put out that a snake hates and want go near.
When a person was cut or stepped on an object that would cause one to bleed. One way to stop bleeding was to apply pressure to the cut or wound. If the bleeding was still continuing, the adults would instruct us kids to run and gather spider webs. This would stop the bleeding when nothing else would.
In almost ever family and community, there was at least one person that had the gift as it was called. That is where one person could "talk warts off of anybody. You would go to this person and he or she, would get you to point out where you had the wart and they would then go across the room and open the bible and recite a certain passage or Scripture. With in one week the wart was gone totally. Then again other people would tie a string around the wart and then recite a saying. You then took and threw away the string and when the string rotted the wart would be gone also. If you have ever had a crick in the neck you know just how painful it is. But there is a sure fire way to get rid of it and fast. Just have a person who is left handed rub and massage your neck for a while and the pain and crick well no longer be there. I have seen this work, my wife's father was left handed and people would come just to have him rub there neck. It worked ever time.
Everyone grew catnip in there flower beds. This was used when kids and babies couldn't go to sleep. Our parents would pull some of this catnip and boil it and make what they called catnip tea. Believe me, you slept very well after a dose of this.
They also went in the woods and dug up sassafras roots and boil it to make tea to drink. That is some of the best tea there is to drink. This root was also used to fire a pit to cook meat and bar-b-que. It would flavor the meat to the point where it would be rather sweet. The root when dried and ground up to a fine powder was used to put on Gumbo. That is still made and used to this day. It is known now as Gumbo File.
One remedy that I know works is this. If you ever had a boil come on you. All you had to do to get rid of it over night is this. Just take an Irish potato and a ripped rag of some sort. When you got ready for bed you cut the potato in half. You then placed the flat side of the potato against the boil then tied it in place. The next morning the boil would be completely gone or almost gone. I have done this procedure many times in my life.
There are many many more that I will address later. There were many drinks, liquid mixture's to drink, rubs to apply. You name it and they had a cure for it.