Whitesburg KY

Turpentine was the cure for everything

Sometimes I do a lot of thinking when I am just sitting around worrying about things that I can’t do anything about. Things that need done around the place and I can’t take care of them because most of the time I barely have the strength to stand up, much less do things that need done.

I think about growing up on the river road above Blackey. Sometimes I wonder how on earth we survived to grow up. We always went barefoot in summer and did everything barefoot from chopping wood, hoeing in the garden, to berry picking. Lord only knows how many times we cut our feet on glass or stepped on rusty nails.

All the medical attention we ever got for wounds was turpentine smeared on them. Turpentine was the antidote for everything. Flour was usually used to stop the bleeding from a cut.

The way we roamed through the woods and fields, it’s a wonder we didn’t get snake bit. I guess we would have gotten turpentine applied to a snake bite like everything else. We could have died from a snake bite, but that is beside the point, and I really don’t think there would have been very much weeping if we had.

One time our stepmom had a kettle of shucky beans sitting on a shelf on the back porch, and me and my brother wanted some. We found an old jar to put them in, and I volunteered to sneak down there and get them, as we were playing on the hill above the chicken lot.

But we didn’t get any, though. As I was running down the hill just outside the chicken lot, I was watching for our stepmom instead of watching where I was stepping. I stepped on a small board with a big nail in it, and took three or four steps before I could stop, nearly sticking the nail all the way through my foot.

My brother had to pull the nail out because I couldn’t reach it well enough. Once again, out came the turpentine.

But we didn’t mention trying to get some of those shucky beans. I had lost all interest in them by then, anyway.

Our favorite play area was a broomsage field, not too far from our house. One day my brother and I were out there and having a lot of fun when all of a sudden my brother started running down the hill and screaming like a banshee.

Just as he got down to where I was, he grabbed a pawpaw tree to stop his momentum. A huge black snake went by like a streak. It tried to stop and couldn’t. It went down the hill past us, slinging sideways.

By the time the snake got stopped, we were headed for parts unknown. I guess the snake thought my brother was his dinner.

One time we came upon a black snake with a halfgrown rabbit almost swallowed and since the snake wasn’t moving we figured he had choked to death. We figured that was good enough for him for being so greedy. But when we returned, the snake was gone. I guess he hadn’t choked to death after all.

And that’s all from the funny farm until next time.

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