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Gatewood: −Coffey’s home in the eastern part of . Almost to the line. Mr. Coffey has lived in this area all his life. What were you saying about, if you would, about the doctors that you’ve been going to? Could you tell me a little about that?

Coffey: Doctors that I’ve been going to, I believe they do all they can do to help a man. All they doctor me for now is just high blood. High blood and they say I have. And that’s all I’ve got to go on. I’ve just got to take the doctor’s word for it.

Gatewood: Which doctor do you go to now?

Coffey: Dr. Robins.

Gatewood: Dr. Robins.

Coffey: And I think he’s a good doctor. I think he’ll do whatever he can.

Gatewood: Seems like a good, conscientious man.

Coffey: Yes.

Gatewood: Did you know that he has a, he has a little office in his home?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Did you know he has a little office in his home?

Coffey: Well, I know he doctors people up there in his home.

Gatewood: His wife told me that when they built that home, they built a little place. Can’t do much there, but if it was an emergency or something.

Coffey: Well, he got office down here in town like. He worked down there, he worked (five?) days. And that little office he’s got up there, after he leaves this office, if anybody comes in, he can doctor them at home. That’s what he did.

Gatewood: He grew up out this way, they tell me.

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: He was born and raised out about five, six miles out this road.

Coffey: Yes. Somewhere down here, I guess, in , they call it. ( somewhere?) is where he was raised at.

Gatewood: . Was that cause of the oil they drilled?

Coffey: There used to be oil wells down in there. Years ago.

Gatewood: Is that right? You remember that?

Coffey: Back when I was just a young kid. There’s a place down (?) you can go something or other road. I forget now what they call that place. but there used to be some oil. They pumped oil out of−

Gatewood: And you remember that? That goes way back to about 1903 or ’04 or ’05, doesn’t it?

Coffey: It was a long time ago. I was just a kid. And I went down, one of my cousins was pumping that oil. And I went down with him and just one time was all I was ever there. Watched him start it up and all that stuff. And then he left this country, actually. Got married, and I never did see him anymore. He went to . And the last account I ever had of him, he was raising apples and stuff. Somebody told me here a little back he was dead now. His name is Lib Morton. And I, I don’t know. That’s all I know about it.

Gatewood: Do you remember what the conditions of the road were back in the time you were a child? This road, for instance, was it paved out very far?

Coffey: I remember back when I was a small kid, most people went to back out in here to town was a horse and buggy. Or either take a wagon and mules. That road wasn’t nothing but just an old rock county road out.

Gatewood: Just a rock road.

Coffey: And finally, they finally made a park out of it. Gravel. Then they finally did get around to blacktopping that, and made a state highway out of it. That was rough (back here?) I hear them old people talk about going to town and getting in there mud where it would be almost up to the horses’ backs. Just an old dirt road then.

Gatewood: Must have been awful hard for the doctors to come out.

Coffey: Oh, it was. Them old (?) had a time back then. When they had to go someplace, that’s the only way they had to go. Either walk or ride a horse. (?)

Gatewood: I guess that because the roads were so bad and everything, that’s the reason you had these doctors and midwives in the community, didn’t you, to doctoring.

Coffey: They had, they had a lot of country doctors back then, you know. Lived out round in the country. People didn’t have to go too far to get to them.

Gatewood: Do you remember any of those men?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Do you remember any of those men who were country doctors?

Coffey: Any of the men?

Gatewood: Yes. The names of them.

Coffey: I remember Doc Hill. Doc Hill used to doctor people around here. But he been dead a long time now.

Gatewood: About when did he doctor?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: About what years did he doctor?

Coffey: Well, I couldn’t recall that over. But all back, several years ago he was a doctor. He stayed in this until just here a few years back, and he died. He died right over here. Just past that second store. Right around by the (just a little ways?) where he lived at. Of course, he didn’t live there all his life. He lived in different places around the county.

Gatewood: Is that right? He would move around during−

Coffey: He used to live up about Mount (?). Then he lived up there at a while. And he moved back down here and stayed, I don’t know how many years.

Gatewood: Did he have a wife and family?

Coffey: Yes. Yes. He stayed with his wife and family. Most of his kids now, I think, dead. I think, most of them. I know he had two boys. One of them he called him Alf Hill and one of them Ezra Hill. Ezra couldn’t hear, and he couldn’t talk. He could make a noise and go by signs. And if you understood him, understood his signs, then you could talk to him. But people didn’t understand him, they just had to look at him. They could talk. And by the work of their mouth, I reckon he knows what they’re saying. Yeah. Sharp man, but he just couldn’t hear and he couldn’t talk. Born that a ways.

Gatewood: What did this Dr. Hill, did he charge a fee? Or how did he work?

Coffey: Yeah, he charged. He charged. But he didn’t charge us too much. He was reasonable about it.

Gatewood: Can you remember any other doctors like that? Country doctors?

Coffey: Well, that one is about all I remember in this, around here. But now they used to have that one over in . That old I told you about.

Gatewood: Yeah. Right. Tell me about Dr. Clark.

Coffey: Dr. John Clark.

Gatewood: John?

Coffey: John was his name, I think. All I know now is what I sat around when I was just a small kid, and listening to these old ones talk.

Gatewood: That’s important. Tell me what you heard.

Coffey: That’s all I know, just what I heard them say.

Gatewood: That’s right. Tell me what you heard them saying. What did they say about Dr. John Clark?

Coffey: That they liked him. Everybody out here talked about him. Said he was a good old doctor. But he was an herb doctor now. That’s the way he doctored people. But now he could help them. That’s what the old ones sat and talked, and that’s all I know, what they said. Far as I know, I don’t know anything about herbs, myself. All I know is just what I hear them old ones talk about making teas and stuff. They used bark. And then some things they had to use the roots of to make tea. And they could straighten up people with it.

Gatewood: What were some of the roots that they used, and what did they use it for?

Coffey: Well, they used different things. But I couldn’t start to remember all of it. I’ve heard them tell about it. But a lot of times, they’d make you some tea when you was growing up. You’d never know what it was. They wouldn’t tell you. [laughs] They wouldn’t tell you what the stuff was. But you had to drink the stuff. It didn’t matter how it tasted. How bitter. Or whatever. You had to take that. Back then, they had to (?) You had to do what they said.

Gatewood: What were some of the things that you remember you were treated for? What kind of ailments?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: What are some of the ailments that you were treated for by your family with these home remedies? Can you remember?

Coffey: The ailments?

Gatewood: Mm hmm.

Coffey: Well people, back then they’d have different things because they had different names for the stuff then. They had (pneumonia?) fever. One time they had that old fluenza, they called it. Influenza, they called it that. That’s when it first come out. A lot of people died with that. But before the doctors could find out what it was, I reckon. They just died out. And maybe some of them went too long before they went to the doctor, too.

Gatewood: Did your family have any trouble with it? Did your family get sick, some of them?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Did some of your family get sick during the influenza?

Coffey: Yeah, we all had that. But this here old man, Dr. (Lorton?), and I don’t know his first name, but everybody called him Dr. Lorton. He lived right over here at Coopersville. And we went and got him. And he come out there, give us some pills. Now his doctoring was just what them old people call patent like medicine. He got it out of a drugstore. And ordered it to get it. Well, he straightened every one of us up. We all got well. And that stuff, when it hits you, it probably didn’t hit everybody alike, but when it hit me, it hit me right in my back. The small of my back. Well, I had to sit down. I couldn’t walk. When he got there, he had us all piled up on the bed. He went to doctor us. Just in a few days, we were back out. [laughs] Yeah.

Gatewood: Did you all help any of the other families?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Were you all able to help other people that had it? Your mother and−

Coffey: Yeah, when we got over it. Now, there was a family that lived back up this creek here. Just about all of them died with that. (?), his family, about all his kids died with it. Guess a lot of people died with that. But I think it was because the doctors, it was this new thing, and they had to (search?) something about it before it killed everybody. But after they learned how, and what it was, they straightened up a lot of people.

Gatewood: What kind of help, what kind of help did people give each other?

Coffey: Well, they just go, sit up with them and give them (wood?) and whatever they had to do. Them that was able, get up and do it. They’d go work the crop out for them and stuff if it was the time of year for a crop. Whatever they needed, people gather in, help out. Sit up with the sick. And help care for them. It’s different from what it is now. This day and time, a family gets down, it’s down. If they ain’t able to help the rest of them, you can’t hardly get no help. All the help you can get goes to a hospital or something. You know people can’t stand that much of that stuff. It just costs so much, you just can’t do it.

Gatewood: It costs a lot even to get to the hospital, doesn’t it? How much did you say it cost you to go to from here?

Coffey: Now well I walk out, I don’t walk out, I catch this boy down here. He goes by there. I get over there to that store, Virgil Bell’s store. Then call a cab from there. And he runs up there and get us. If we have to go up to the public assistance office, it costs us sixteen dollars to get there and back to Virgil’s store. And I trade that Virgil’s store. And when I buy some groceries or something, he loads them up and brings them over here. That’s, that helps.

Gatewood: That’s a help. Sure is.

Coffey: I tell you, take poor people, can’t stand all them big bills.

Gatewood: Now back in the old days, they didn’t, people that came to help people didn’t charge anything? When they come to help them with the crops or sit up with them, that was just−

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: When they came to help them with the crops or sit up with them when they were ill−

Coffey: They didn’t charge them. Nah. They just done it. That’s back 75 or longer years ago. I done pass 75, going on 76 now. Back when I was just a small kid, that’s what the people done. They helped each other. They’d go see about them. If they was all down, then they’d just gather up, go in, work out the crops. Or do whatever had to be done. They’d do it. But the doctor bills weren’t too high back then. These country doctors, they’d just charge for their medicine. And maybe their trip. And that’s about all. Now you get a doctor to come to your home, it costs a lot.

Gatewood: How about when the people, women were delivering their babies. Who did that, mainly, back when you were a child?

Coffey: Well there used to be several of them people. This fellow here in , and they called him Joe Roberts. He’d go around delivering babies for people. And then there was a woman over here on (Sinking?) Creek. That was what she done, too.

Gatewood: Did you recall her name?

Coffey: Holly Roberts. And then there used to be an old lady lived around here years ago. They called her Ann Burkes. She’d go. She was old, but she’d get on a horse and away she’d go. She could ride. [laughs] Call (?) Ann. Everybody knowed her. And I reckon she was a good old doctor, in that place. All of them were. they all done good. But Joe Roberts is dead. Holly Roberts is dead. And that old Ann’s dead. They been dead now for several years. And nowadays, I don’t know what, most of the people goes to the hospitals, take the women there. It costs them, I guess, a whole lot, but they have to take them. I reckon sometimes they give them time to pay the debts. (?) Take a man’s working, why they’ll give him so much time to pay it off. Down here at , a lot of them goes there. A lot of them go to . I guess different places they take the women.

Gatewood: That’s a long ways. How long is it?

Coffey: They have their baby. Then come on back home.

Gatewood: How far is it to Somerset from here, would you say?

Coffey: Well, now, I believe they used to say it was 38 miles from to . Now I don’t know. (I believe that’s what I heard them talking?)

Gatewood: There’s no short way. You’d have to go from here to , and then to .

Coffey: Go to , and then (?) I’m going to step out.

Gatewood: Certainly.

Coffey: I’ll be right back. [pause]

Gatewood: How about the general condition of the roads back when you were a teenager?

Coffey: Oh, back the condition of the roads, when I was just a teenager, they just weren’t no highway through here. It was just an old county road to go wherever you went. Pike, they called them pikes. Just washed and graveled it. Finally got to calling it a pike. Well, they (?) some low places, turned the water through (and under?) the road. And they got along pretty good then. But finally they put this highway through here. And that made it a lot better on people.

Gatewood: What year was that?

Coffey: A lot of people then lived a way out in the country. They sold their little mountain homes, moved in closer to the highway so they could get in and out better. And the roads was mighty bad before then. You couldn’t hardly get over them without walking or on a wagon or something. Sometimes he’d have to work before he could get the wagon over it. Yeah. That was back when I was just small.

Gatewood: Yeah, I guess before they put the culverts in, the streams would tear the roads out, wouldn’t they, when they rose?

Coffey: Yeah! Oh, yeah, they had, well, it was all manpower! Most of the work back at that time. It had to be done. With a saw, an axe, whatever they had to have to get it done. Sledgehammer. Hand drill. Some man sat there and turned the drill, two more was (tracking?) it. Drill holes in rock and blow them out. [laughs] It was all work. They didn’t have all this machinery like they got now. Men had jobs. Everybody was going to work. Even the old men, a lot of them, get out and work.

Gatewood: Plenty work to do.

Coffey: But now, a man, when he gets past forty, he’s just about done. He ain’t going to get no job. And if you ain’t got a high school education now, you don’t get to work much. You might find some little old job somewheres that you can do. And maybe there’s stuff that you could do, and they think you can’t do it. [laughs] You just (?) to work. You’ve got to have a high school education to run all this machinery and stuff like that. And if a man didn’t have it, he couldn’t figure nothing and he couldn’t write nothing. So there he is. You just got to have a good high education before you can handle all that work.

Gatewood: I guess if a man doesn’t have work, he’s not, doesn’t stay healthy as long, does he?

Coffey: Yeah. Well, as far as I know now (?), the roads was rough. You started anywhere, you had to go ready for it. Had to take an axe and a saw with you if you had a wagon. If anything fell across the road, you had to get it out of the way. Whatever kind of a road you was on, and all of them was bad back then. I know people used to haul timber out of here. Saw logs. Cedar (stuff?). Take it clear on into on a wagon. It hits cold weather, take it through the winter back then. It’s awful cold (?) no wagon from here to town. [laughs] But they done it. People don’t work now like they did back then. Take in the winter season, if you’re in a timber job, they’ll shut her down till spring. Don’t work.

Gatewood: No.

Coffey: But they finally did get it to where you can draw unemployed. That helped a little. Wasn’t that, there’d be a lot of working people up against it right now. They can draw that for a while, but then when they draw out, they’re out. That’s the way that goes.

Gatewood: But in earlier times, are you implying that in earlier times, that they worked all year long in the logging? They didn’t stop in the winter?

Coffey: No. Back at that time, when I was just small, they worked right on. If it was a day fit to work at all, they get right up there.

Gatewood: It must have been rough in the middle of winter.

Coffey: Snow. I see them working in snow. Of course, it would be clear overhead. But still is snow on the ground when they’d get out there and work anyhow. [laughs]

Gatewood: People always raised a good garden?

Coffey: Back at that time, not everybody went to, had a big garden and a field of corn.

Gatewood: They have one about your size? Or larger?

Coffey: Oh, back then, they’d have as much as an acre going. But now they put that stuff away. They had a way, they could hole them taters up in a hole. (?), turnips, stuff like that, they could hole it up, keep it all winter. See, and then they’d put away a lot of cans. Can it up. (?) back. They had big cellars, they called them, dug out. Some of them had them under the house, and some had them built out. They’d just stack that full of stuff, back in them days. But now they got to where they can’t keep that stuff like that. It’s hybrid stuff. It’s not like the old fashioned stuff. It would keep. This hybrid stuff won’t keep. Not in a cellar. In a hole. I think you just go out and fix a hole in the garden, put some straw or grass or something in there. Pile the taters in, then cover them up. Put grass over them, and put the dirt back over them.

Gatewood: Well did−

Coffey: And they could take boards, back then they’d draw out boards to cover houses or barns or anything. And they’d place them over that hole, around, so they’d have weight on them so the wind couldn’t blow them off or didn’t. And that stuff keep (?) and stay dry all winter.

Gatewood: That’s good eating. That’s good, healthy food.

Coffey: Yeah.

Gatewood: Well, what did they do? Did they save their own seed from year to year?

Coffey: Yeah. Back at that time, they saved their own seed. Plant it next year. Cabbage seed, mustard seed, or any kind of seed. They saved the taters, plant them next year. I’ve got to step out again.

Gatewood: Okay. [pause] You mentioned these gardens, these big gardens they used to raise. Did they ever, to your knowledge, raise medicinal plants? Any things that could be used for healing?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Did they ever raise any plants that could be used for healing? Like rutabagas or something?

Coffey: Well, they used to put garlic in their garden. Maybe over in one corner. Catnip, they called it.

Gatewood: What was that good for?

Coffey: That was good for children. Make them sleep. It was different things they used that they had around the place. But the most of the time, when they wanted medicine, they’d get out in the hills and find something. Whatever they wanted to use, they’d get it. They depended on them old country doctors a lot, too.

Gatewood: Would they kind of tell them how to select things? What was poisonous?

Coffey: I think at that time, them old doctors sometimes would tell them stuff to do. Something to do to help somebody. Tell them what to use and how to use it. And if they don’t know how to use it, you don’t know much about it. [laughs]

Gatewood: That’s right. That’s the state I’m in. I wouldn’t know what to, wouldn’t know what to get.

Coffey: That’s it. That’s me. I wouldn’t know what to get. If I did know what to get, I maybe wouldn’t know how to put it together, make a medicine out of it.

Gatewood: But you do know, though, that they were used. And you know, generally speaking, what was used. You just don’t know how to mix it and select it right.

Coffey: I did. I wouldn’t know a thing about that.

Gatewood: But how did you know, you said that, how did you know so much? You were telling me a while ago that when your family was around, how did the children relate to the parents? Did they talk a lot, too? Did the child talk very much when the parents were talking? Or what did he do?

Coffey: No. The children, when they wanted, older people wanted to talk about something they didn’t want the children to hear, children had to get out and play somewhere. And when they got through, well, they could come back in. But to sit and listen, they didn’t sit and talk. They had to listen to the olders talk. I don’t know. That was just our way of life, I guess. Probably things they talked about they didn’t want the children to hear. They was very particular about the kids back at that time. But this day and time, the little ones know more than−

[End 17 E 19a, Side A. Begin Side B.]

Coffey: Talking about the women or−

Gatewood: Adult talk.

Coffey: They didn’t want children to hear that. [laughs]

Gatewood: But the children now can hear that on the television, can’t they?

Coffey: Yeah.

Gatewood: These soap operas.

Coffey: You can see it now. You can sit and look at it. [laughs] Yeah.

Gatewood: Did they ever talk much about the bible?

Coffey: Yeah. Yeah. They talked a lot about the bible. Most of the people back at that time believed in that. And it’s right, I reckon. It’s got to be. You see things they read about. It had to be right. My trouble was, when I was small, I had to work. At home. (?) had to (get out there?) They showed me how to work. You knew how to stay busy. And then when I went to school, I was so proud to get away from the house, get to school. Where I could play. That’s about all I studied about. Waiting for recess to come. And then get out and play. I didn’t worry about the book. And I didn’t learn much, either.

Gatewood: Where did you go to school?

Coffey: I went to school over there on (Flankin?) Creek. And then I went, the first school I went to was down here at . Right down this highway a little ways down here. Where there’s a road, (on the storehouse?) side.

Gatewood: There’s a church there, too.

Coffey: Right down, right down below the store, why, there was a schoolhouse. And finally they took up all these old country schoolhouses. Precincts, they called it. Bunch the kids up and built a big school right over here. Big loft building. I worked there. And a lot of them then, that’s the only place they had to go to school. If they didn’t go there, they had to go to town to school. Maybe it might have been better for them, it might not. I don’t know.

Gatewood: Tell me something about this school you went to back in the earlier time. Was it a one-room school?

Coffey: Yeah, back when I went, my teachers, well, they just had to try to learn. If you didn’t, they’d get after you. If they couldn’t do nothing with you, they’d go see your parents. Tell them about (me?) If they didn’t go see them, they’d write them a note and give it to you to take to them. If you didn’t take it, why you was in trouble. So just as well take it.

Gatewood: Were they all ages of children in the school?

Coffey: Back at that time, as well as I remember, there was some of them nearly grown people. And they’d be in the ninth grade, a lot of them. But I never got nowhere, I didn’t try. If I’d have tried hard enough, I could, I guess. I just, I’m one of them handicaps. I just don’t have enough education to get around like most people.

Gatewood: Do you remember when you were getting to school, any doctors or nurses coming out to give you vaccinations?

Coffey: Back at that time, they didn’t. Back when I was, they didn’t come around, vaccinate the kids, stuff like that. Well, I don’t remember that I ever saw a doctor or nurse there at the school house when I went to school. Now that happens later. They go around these schoolhouses.

Gatewood: Do you remember that when you had kids? Do you remember your kids, the nurses coming around?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: When you had kids going to school, did they come around? The nurses and doctors?

Coffey: No. I never got to stay with my kids.

Gatewood: I see.

Coffey: And of course they had them. They went to school, I reckon. Some of them. Some places. But now, they used to come over (?), heard the kids talk about nurses and doctors being over there. Well, now, I’ll tell you. Maybe the doctors didn’t come much, but the nurses would come over. Give them shots and stuff. And maybe you’d have an appointment with them to come into the health office. Be examined. Had to have their teeth fixed, stuff like that. And their eyes tested. It’s still a going on like that. People has to do a lot different things now, I don’t know what they did back when I was just small. When I was a young boy, they just about had nothing. Well they didn’t have what they got now. We just old country people. Went to school right close, maybe home, wouldn’t have to walk too far. Of course I walked from the (?) down here to and back. We walked. We didn’t get no bus to ride. We had to walk. Come a storm on the way back out here, then you had to get under a rock house somewhere or someplace to get in out of it. [laughs] That’s the way it was.

Gatewood: Well did, in the home there, did your mother or your daddy the one that kind of got some advice on how to use things to help you keep you healthy and relieve you when you had a cold or something? Who did that in the home?

Coffey: They always tried to tell us how to avoid being blown away. Getting in a (?) or something. Go to somebody’s house. Or either, if you couldn’t get there, get back under a rock house. Take all them (?). Just maybe pick your way out there and make a big dry shelter back in there. (?) Of course the wind would hit them, but the rains (?)

Gatewood: When you got a, when you got a cold or you had the whooping cough or something, did your mother know what to do in terms of using medicine?

Coffey: Well, that’s where that tea business came in. They’d make some kind of a tea. And you had to use it. And they’d keep you in. They wouldn’t let you out in there or nothing. If you had the mumps, you stayed in. They wouldn’t let you lift just a little (washstand?), nothing. You weren’t allowed to lift nothing. Just sat around. They said that if you lifted something heavy, the mumps would fall on you. Now that’s what they talked. I guess they was right.

Gatewood: Did they have many measles?

Coffey: Yeah, they had the measles. And chicken pox. And then they had another kind they call the smallpox. Just break out with blisters on you. They kept you home when that happened. They wouldn’t allow you to go to work. [laughs] If you was in school, you stayed home until you got well.

Gatewood: You don’t remember much of−

Coffey: And measles, they made ginger teas to break out the measles. And then they used another thing called spicewood. To break out them measles.

Gatewood: Do you remember many children having typhoid fever?

Coffey: Yeah, back at that time, pretty regular, they had it.

Gatewood: So that was bad.

Coffey: (?) typhoid fever. That’s something I never did know what they doctored with, what they done for it.

Gatewood: Wasn’t much to do, I don’t believe.

Coffey: Of course I guess about like a pneumonia, they had to use something like that to break that fever. Some kind of medicine. Herbs or something.

Gatewood: When would that fever come on? In the summertime?

Coffey: I believe it mostly come in the summertime. Hot weather.

Gatewood: How about diphtheria.

Coffey: Diphtheria? I’ve heard them talk about that. But I don’t know when it mostly come. Maybe just anytime. And I don’t know what they done for it, either.

Gatewood: Do you have a remember, you say in the schools, you don’t remember them doing anything. There was a program for hookworm. Do you ever remember doing any treatment for hookworm?

Coffey: Hookworm. No. Now, I never knew what they done for that. Then I heard them talking about having tapeworms.

Gatewood: When you went barefooted a lot, you tend to get that sort of thing, didn’t you?

Coffey: You what?

Gatewood: When you went barefooted a lot, you tend to get those worms, wouldn’t you?

Coffey: No.

Gatewood: You don’t think it’s−

Coffey: I’ve heard all that stuff talked about, but I don’t know what they done for that. And hookworms−

Gatewood: I think it was, they had to do that, I think, through the public health department. Later on, probably, you don’t remember it. But in the schools, they did do something.

Coffey: They had a remedy. They had something.

Gatewood: Is that right?

Coffey: They’d take, they had stuff they called worm medicine. It tasted bad! That stuff may have, they used a lot of this stuff they called worm seed. It was a weed. But they get that and make tea out of it for the worms. Sometimes, I believe, they made a syrup out of it at times. A syrup. They’d let them take, use it.

Gatewood: Have you ever heard of the weed called self heal, or heal all?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Have you ever heard of the weed called, I don’t know whether it was a weed or a flower, called heal all? Or self heal?

Coffey: No, I don’t believe I ever heard of that.

Gatewood: Ever hear tell of them using wild plum?

Coffey: I heard of them talk about that. Making syrup out of them wild plum. bark.

Gatewood: And cherry? They used cherry bark?

Coffey: Cherry tree bark. Wild cherries was made. That was through this woman business. They used that for the women, a lot of that.

Gatewood: Was it, did they ever use much rhubarb from the garden for anything?

Coffey: Rhubarb, they used that. And midwives used it.

Gatewood: What was that good for?

Coffey: It’s good for women. That’s what they mostly used it for. Like (Joe Roberts?) I told you about, lived over yonder. They raised a little of that in their gardens.

Gatewood: Is it elder, is it elder that they used to use for the worms? Elder?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Did they used to use elder for worms?

Coffey: Elder bark. Yeah, they used to use that. They used the bark. And I think they made a tea out of it. And it’s (?), that bark. They used that to mix syrup out of it for somebody, for children, or old people, too. But I don’t know what it was good for now.

Gatewood: Have you ever heard of pink root?

Coffey: Pink root, I heard of it. Yeah. They used to dig it and (set it?). Back when I was a small kid, there as a man run a (?) and he called it a play house. Down here at . Joe (Gibbs?). And he bought all kinds of roots. Pink root, ginseng, and yellow root. And (hogwort?). Any kind of stuff, he bought it. That was back in the time of, well, there was a war started, going on. And they sold that stuff. He’d (?) people had to go out and dig that stuff and sell it to get a little money to live on. May apple, they sold that, too.

Gatewood: They’d sell it to this merchant, and he’d probably sell it to someone else in the city somewhere.

Coffey: Yeah. They’d take it to (?) make medicine out of it.

Gatewood: You ever heard of slippery elm?

Coffey: Slippery elm? Oh, yes. They used to get the bark of that, they used to sell that.

Gatewood: What was that good for?

Coffey: Well, I heard an old doctor say that you could take a string and cut a strip off of it. And wet it, get it all (?) up over a bullet hole for anybody, went through their leg. They could take that, pull that (straight through there?) and clean it up. I heard him say that. Dale Roberts, he’s dead. He used to live down here at (Ritler?). And I heard him tell another man that’s what they used it for most. And then it was good for people. I think some of the old ones back then, when people were for dying, had (?). They died at home, most of them. They put that slippery elm bark in water. And when they wanted water, they give them some of that. I reckon that stuff would put moisture in their mouth or something. Exactly what they done it for, I don’t know. Now them old people, they know that stuff. Most of them. Yes, sir. They know just what to do if somebody got down sick or something. And if they took a cold, they’d get out and get that bark stuff and fix it. And you didn’t have to use much of it till you’d be back out working or playing or doing whatever you wanted to do.

Gatewood: Did they store it up in the house in bottles and things?

Coffey: Yes. They made them stay in until they got better. And then they let them out.

Gatewood: No, I mean the medicines. Did they pick it in the woods and kind of put it in the house and keep it?

Coffey: Yes, they’d take it, get out in the fall of the year, and gather up this stuff. And put it away. And when they got sick in the winter, they had it. They all would have had it. All they had to do was fix it. Make a medicine out of it.

Gatewood: And if they didn’t know how to fix it, they’d go to one of these doctors and ask them what, how to mix it up and what to put with−

Coffey: There a lot of them old (?) doctors back then. They’d tell the people what to do. And they had doctors all over around everywhere then. People at home, if they run up against a problem, if they didn’t know what it was, then they’d have to go get the doctor, (?)

Gatewood: Tell me about this old Indian doctor used to live down here at Coopersville.

Coffey: That, Dr. (McDeakle?), they called him. He was just a little fellow. But I remember seeing him. He wore his hair growed out long, and kept it plaited up. People, people talked about him being a good doctor. Mostly an herb doctor. Back at that time, (?) on top of that ridge is a place they called the old place. And Dr. (McDeakle?) lived over there in Coopersville. And every one of the families knowed him. Everybody else knowed him. I remember he had a, (?), just a family. Mother, grandmother, staying there. Women’s afraid of the night, you know. Back then, they’d hear a noise or something, and they didn’t know what it was. They hear something on the porch one night. He told Dr. (McDeakle?) about that. He thought it was somebody. Old Doc, he had a big old dog, a big black one. Called him Old Bob. He took, he told him to take Old Bob over there, keep him a while. If anybody comes around, he’ll take care of him. [laughs] Brought him over there. Me and my brother were just small little fellows. Well one night he’s out, peach orchard out in front of the house. A lot of peach trees. It was in the wintertime. Well he was just (arranging?) out there. And my grandma called me. She wasn’t afraid of nothing. Anything got around, she thought it was something made for her chickens, she’d get a big poking stick, there she’d go, with a (?) and an old lantern. Well, I heard my mother went to him to see what he had. He had a big possum treed up the peach tree. Granny, Granny just took that big poking stick and knocked him out of there. [laughs] Now of course that old fellow (resigned?) hunting for the chickens. Anything made a chicken squawk, she’d be right out there to see what it was. And usually them possums, they’d catch them, go to the roof and eat them. But she’d take that big poking stick, knock them in the head with it. [laughs] Now her people, I’ve heard her talk about it. Back in time of that old Civil War, she had two or three brothers. Maybe just two of them, was doctors in that war. And they told her a lot of things when they come back. That’s how she come to know so much about stuff. She’d sit around talk to people about it. About herbs and stuff. And that’s all I can tell you about it. I never, didn’t know what the stuff was.

Gatewood: That was your grandmother?

Coffey: If one of us kids got sick, just a day or two we’d be right back out playing around. She’d make tea, straighten us right up. We didn’t have to get the doctor. She knew that stuff. But lord, she’s been gone for years and years. And her brothers, two of them, I know, she said there was two of them were doctors. They was (Jonebys?), raised over here across in , over in a place called the Jones Holler. That’s where they was raised up at.

Gatewood: And they learned this doctoring in the army? When they, during the Civil War?

Coffey: When they went to the war, why they was doctors there.

Gatewood: So when they came home, your grandmother learned a lot about−

Coffey: Yes. They told her a lot. She just a young girl at that time. She just twelve year old when that war was going on. And her brothers, when they come back, they just teached her a lot of things. [laughs] Yeah. Back at that time, the people lived way out in the country. It was good for them to know a lot of stuff. Maybe they could save somebody’s life while they was trying to get a doctor there. If they lived a long ways off, they had to know something to do.

Gatewood: Do you remember your grandmother going out, going to help people? Them coming to her?

Coffey: Yes. She used to go to people’s homes when they was sick, around close. And sit up with them. And tell them things to do. I heard her say about going and see people that had the measles or something. And she’d always take stuff they called fidgety. Put it in a little string. Tie it around her neck. And she’d rub turpentine around her mouth and nose. And she’d take a little taste of it. And she’d go right in on them. She never did catch nothing. She said that killed the germs. She wouldn’t catch it. And I heard her talking about sleeping with people that had the measles. She never did take them.

Gatewood: She was a wise woman. A wise person.

Coffey: Well, she know what to do. Of course, them fellows told her, I guess. Them old people back in her days, just about all of them knowed stuff to do.

Gatewood: Was she a religious woman?

Coffey: Yes. Yes, she was. If she didn’t have nothing to do, she’d get that big old black bible and sit and read for a whole day at a time. [laughs] She remembered that stuff that she read. I’ll be right back. I have to step out. [pause]

Gatewood: −grandmother used to read a lot of the bible, and then she used to meditate on it and then talk about it to the children?

Coffey: Sometimes she’d sit and talk to us about all that she read. Of course, I couldn’t remember all that. She’d sit and talk about it. Tell how people ought to do and how they ought to live.

Gatewood: Would she tell stories, too?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Would she tell stories, too?

Coffey: Yes. She’d tell about how people, what they do, do right. And not done wrong, not get into nothing. Not steal nothing. Not tell no lies. Had to, sure had to tell the truth about everything. Had to (?)

Gatewood: She did a good job on that. You seem to be a very honest man. I appreciate that.

Coffey: Tell you how to be honest. How to pay your debts. All that stuff. She know it. She was right about that. Yeah. My mother, she couldn’t read. She didn’t, never did go to school none. She couldn’t have read her name.

Gatewood: But your grandmother could read.

Coffey: Yeah, she could read some. She was old, but she could read. I’ve heard her talk about them spelling books that they had when she went to school. They called them blue back book. She said (they’re hard?)

Gatewood: Did she, did your grandmother go to school in here, around this area?

Coffey: Well, I can’t remember anything. She went to school when she was young, over in the Jones Holler.

Gatewood: Back in McCreary.

Coffey: Yes, back in . All them Joneses back there is my relations. Kin folk. But there are a lot of them I don’t know. Never did see them.

Gatewood: Sounds like they were pretty well educated people.

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: They must have been pretty well educated people. School people.

Coffey: Well, most of them is. There may be some that didn’t get no education. I’m one that never got any, hardly. Just picked up a little stuff along as I went after I got out of school. I learned nothing in school. [laughs] But I got (?) Write my name. Read a little in a book. But there are a lot of words in a book I can’t pronounce. Seems like I could (?), but I just can’t bring it out. [laughs]

Gatewood: Can you think of some other things, when you were a child, or when you were a young man that I’d like to know about? Can you think of some other things when you were a child and when you were a young man? About healthcare? That might be helpful?

Coffey: Talk about, now I didn’t understand you.

Gatewood: I said, can you think of some other things about when you were a child, or when you were a teenager or young man about medicine and healthcare?

Coffey: Well, after I got to be old enough to get out on my own, I never had to go to a doctor. I never, well, I wasn’t sick. I just hardly ever had a headache. It went on and on and on until I got older−

[End 17 E 19a, Side B. Begin 17 E 19b, Side A.]

Coffey: That’s about all (?) and the doctor says I got high blood, too. I take pills for it, for the high blood. I keep it down, I reckon. The older, I reckon, the older a person gets, the weaker they get. [laughs] Get more wrong with them and stuff.

Gatewood: How well, how well do you know Mr. Stonewall?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: How well do you know Clark Stonewall?

Coffey: Oh, my goodness. I don’t know him too well. I just know him when I need him (?). They call him Doc Stonewall is what they call him. I don’t know his real name.

Gatewood: is his first name. . Dr. Clark Stonewall. He seems to be very knowledgeable about herbs.

Coffey: I tell you, they tell me he knows a lot. And I don’t know. Somebody told me that he could write out a script into the drugstore, and they’d just get the stuff and come on over by with it.

Gatewood: He does that?

Coffey: That’s what they said he does. I don’t know now. I wouldn’t be positive about that. I just hear people say it. That’s all I can tell you.

Gatewood: Would they go to him and ask him−

Coffey: They used to go to him, a lot of them did. But now the last few years, since he moved up in there, I don’t know what he does. I never go up in that part.

Gatewood: But he used to live, where did he used to live?

Coffey: He used to live back here on this ridge. In a little old mountain home. He lived, well, but I hardly ever see him back at that time. Back at that time, I was working for a man (?), well, in about (Palmersville?). Old man Charlie Hunt. I was working on a farm for him. And I hardly ever come back down here then. Doctor Stonewall lived out there on that ridge. And when he left there, he went off up in (?) river, way up towards the head, it’s not the head, but it’s, right in there around Whitley. When you get to where Rector Burnett lives. Just across the river there is where he lives over. I never was in his home, but I’ve heard them talk about him. I worked a little up at Rector Burnett’s farm. I didn’t work a few days, but I worked some.

Gatewood: Was there a community up there around ?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Were there a number of people used to live up there around then?

Coffey: Yeah, there used to be several people lived. And there are now, several of them living up in there. Back, back a few years ago, most of them was old people lived up in there. But they’re gone now. And there’s young people living in there. Of course, a lot of them to getting up in years. They ought to know a lot, too, about stuff. Doc Stonewall came to Charlie Hunt’s one time, when I was working there. He (?) for dinner. I believe he had two boys with him. And he been out like hunting herbs then, looking for stuff. That’s what he said he done. Well, he get up that stuff, gather it up and sell it. I don’t know, I guess he just give it out to whoever he sold it to. I heard him talking about getting his herbs. (?) root, pink root. Blood root. They call that blood root. Stuff they used to call red (cocoon?) back in my days. I’ve heard them talk about that stuff. I know the stuff. You could sell it. I remember, when me and my brother was growing up, we got to chewing tobacco. They wouldn’t have that anymore. [laughs] They’d send us (?) back here to the store. And we went a different way, crossed through the woods. All that red (picoon?), we called it, just (?), big beds of it. We’d dig that, take it over to another store by, Johnny (Ododd?) run that store. He bought all (?) stuff as that. We’d sell that and buy some tobacco with it. [laughs] We kept our tobacco hid. Wouldn’t let Mom and Dad know we had that. Cause they’d have tanned our hide if they’d have known.

Gatewood: You say they used to grow a lot of peach trees, orchards?

Coffey: Oh, yeah. They growed, well, just about everybody, anywhere you went, they’d have a big apple orchard. Peach orchard. They just, people had plenty of stuff like that. But now you can’t find that old-fashioned stuff. Them old-fashioned apples, the old-fashioned peaches.

Gatewood: Do you have pears?

Coffey: They didn’t grow very big, but they was real good peaches. They canned them things. Can them up. They had something to eat all the time. (Boiled?) apples, they’d call them. They’d dry them, put them away. They could have them dried out for pie anytime they (?)

Gatewood: How about berries?

Coffey: Berries? Blackberries was plentiful back then. They’d can then, put them away. Then they’d get them out, some of them. They’d make blackberry jam out of some of them.

Gatewood: How about blackberry wine?

Coffey: They used to make that. Yeah. They made, some people, now, all people didn’t do it. Some would make them a little wine out of them.

Gatewood: How about with the peaches? Did some people make some peach brandy?

Coffey: Well, I heard them talk about people making peach brandy. That’s way back (?)

Gatewood: I guess there was even some people that would make corn liquor, wouldn’t they?

Coffey: Oh, back then they did. Yeah. (They kept it?)

Gatewood: It was perfectly legal.

Coffey: They used that in their medicine, a lot of it. They kept it all the time, year round. I heard my Grandma Coffey tell about her man. Joe Coffey. He’d been in the Civil War. And after he come out, him and her got married. She said he kept a five-gallon keg of whiskey all the time. Kept it in the smokehouse. She said he didn’t get drunk, he didn’t drink it. But through the winter season, they had to work. Well, when they’d come in in the night, before they went to bed, he’d go and get some of, give all of them a little dram of that. He said to keep the cold off of them, keep them from taking cold. Using it for medicine, it was a good thing to have.

Gatewood: You could mix it with a lot of other things.

Coffey: Yeah. Some people used it just to get out, get drunk off of.

Gatewood: Probably not as many people as do now, though, really.

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: I bet there wasn’t as many people that got drunk on it as they do now? And they have to pay a big price.

Coffey: No, not (?). I didn’t think it was. You hardly ever see (dead bodies?) acted like they was drinking. But now all them old men and people kept it, kept it at home. Kept it around. So if they needed it for medicine, they’d have it, you know. Yeah.

Gatewood: What kind of livestock did people raise? Like cows. For milk and butter and stuff. And hogs. Did they raise many? Did most families have a few−

Coffey: They kept milk and butter all the time.

Gatewood: How did they keep it cool?

Coffey: They had, back then, a lot of people had these old springs. You’d call them cave springs. They could set that back in there. They’d make them a box to set their milk buckets in. Butter. If it wouldn’t leak, it would just float around in there. And (hold water?), it stayed cold enough. A lot of them would dig a hole out in the ground to set it down in. And it stayed cool enough. Yeah.

Gatewood: How about chickens? Did they have any chickens?

Coffey: Yeah, everybody raised chickens. They made a living off of chickens. A lot of them. You could sell eggs, chickens, frying chickens. Any kind of chicken. They’d sell them. Buy something else they needed.

Gatewood: Did people do much, what kind of hunting did they do?

Coffey: Hunting?

Gatewood: Yes.

Coffey: Well, back when I was young, they squirrel hunted a lot. (Still?) squirrels. Then he’d go out coon hunting. Catch coons. Sell hides. Possum. Skunks. Anything that had a hide on it, he could sell it. Dog hides, cat hides or whatever that wanted to fool with him. Them coon hides, they got a pretty good price back at that time.

Gatewood: If you knew how to fix them, skin them right. And they knew how to fix the meat, too?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: They knew how to fix the meat, too?

Coffey: Yeah, they fixed coons. And some people backed. Some cooked them. That old Dr. (McDeakle?) over here, I told you about, he baked the coons when he got one. He baked, had it baked. Groundhogs, wild turkeys. They used to kill a lot of them, but there ain’t none in this country now. But back in the days, there was plenty of them. I heard my grandmother talk about them killing bears. Bears.

Gatewood: Bears?

Coffey: Back when she was just a young child. I heard her tell about how they first begin to live in this country. Old people. They come in this country, they didn’t have no bread. No salt. They didn’t know what matches was. And she said they’d kill their meat, then they’d take that turkey breast, use it for bread. [laughs]

Gatewood: Did you do much fishing? When you were a boy?

Coffey: Back then, a lot of people fished. There was plenty of fish then. But they’re scarce now. They’re not nearly like they used to be. You could go down here on this little creek. Used to be plenty of fish. You (might sit?) there for days and never catch one. They just not there like they used to be. Back in their days, every little creek or river was full of them.

Gatewood: How about in your day? Were there many around then? When you were a child?

Coffey: Back when I was just young, there was plenty of them. But now we’re getting, they not like it was. They’re scarce now. People don’t catch them like they used to.

Gatewood: How did they used to catch them? Did they use traps as well as poles?

Coffey: No, sir. Back then, they’d just get them a pole. Tie a line on the end of it. And a hook on the other end. And get them some worms. These old red worms. Put on that hook. Cast it out out there. They just lifted them (?) [laughs] Yeah.

Gatewood: Did they trap any of them?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Did they trap them, too?

Coffey: I heard them talk about setting traps across the creeks and rivers. Now that’s something I never saw. I don’t know how they fixed them. But they had some way they fixed them traps to catch them fish. But when they caught them, they got the little ones and big ones all. They’d just take the big ones and turn the little ones loose. That’s the way they done that. They just used the big ones.

Gatewood: That’s wise.

Coffey: Well that’s (?), they saved the fish that a ways. They didn’t destroy them.

Gatewood: Do you remember anything else about the Indian doctor that you heard?

Coffey: No. That was the only one I ever known anything about. I heard talk of, but I never was with him. I don’t know what (?)

Gatewood: Did you ever hear tell of a Dr. Medico? Dr. Medico?

Coffey: I believe I’ve heard his name called on television or radio or something. I’ve heard of it.

Gatewood: It says he lived, I read out a book that he lived down here, near the line. Around McCreary and . And apparently he would gather these herbs and roots, and he would sell them.

Coffey: Well you see, I never went about a doctor back then. After I got up to be a teenage, I never was sick. And there was a lot of them I didn’t never get acquainted with.

Gatewood: Didn’t have any need to.

Coffey: No. Didn’t have, didn’t need to go. And I didn’t worry about it. I just went on about my business. [laughs] Michael, come out here.

Gatewood: Is Mike your oldest grandchild?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Is Mike your oldest grandchild?

Mike: What?

Coffey: You get me that little book that you give me. That little almanac. It tell about Indian doctors.

Gatewood: Oh, is that right?

Coffey: Yeah. I can’t read it, but it talks in there about them Indians. Maybe herb doctors. He give me that book. It’s an old book. He had it (up there?) You might find something in that thing you’d like to know.

Gatewood: Yeah. Yeah. I guess the almanac was very important, wasn’t it, in the early times. Plant the crops by the moon.

Coffey: Everybody used them things. Now that’s Indian stuff. There’s a lot of Indian stuff like. But I can’t see how to read it. And I couldn’t read it all if I could see. I can make out some of it. It tells about their way of life or something. Maybe about their medicine that they use.

Gatewood: It’s got all kinds of medicine.

Coffey: I’ve got to step out again.

Gatewood: Okay. [pause]

Coffey: (?) what all they done in the−

Gatewood: They advertise here a doctor book that says it tells you all about root and herb remedies. Did many of the people have these doctor books?

Coffey: No, that little boy got that somewhere. He might have got it over round at (?) They had whole books (?) they get other places. They run a second handed store. Selling used clothing and stuff. They picked that up somewhere. I don’t know where they got it. They give it to him. He give it to me. And I don’t need it. I can’t see how to read it.

Gatewood: There’s that burdock right there. That burdock leaf. That one right there. Do you remember that one?

Coffey: It has burrs on top of it. I never, we got a hold of some of it once. And my brother had (scaffilow?), big place out on his neck. He had it (lanced?) one time. And then he went to the other doctor. The doctor lanced it and told him to come back in three days. He put a string in (our padrina?) The doctor took that out, test it out, told him that, “You didn’t need to come back now. I can’t do nothing for you.” Well, he went to another doctor in town, and he done the same thing. Then he went to the third doctor, and he done him that way. Well he just come on back home, and none of us didn’t know what to do. He had the (scoffilo?). And some old woman in Stearns sent him word to come out there. And she tell him what to do to cure that. And it was the only thing that would cure it. He had to drive it out of his system. And that was the only thing that would do it. Well, he went. And she told him to get some burdock root and some yellow root and nine black walnut buds. Put it all together and make a tea out of it. Make a quart of tea. Get him a quart of straight corn whiskey, and put that quart of tea in it. Use it, take big tablespoons full four times a day. And keep a good poultice on that and it would cure it. Well I went and got the whiskey for him, and came back and got the other stuff. Picked it up. And he started using that. That made him a half a gallon of the stuff. By the time he got that done, used, why his, that place was all healed up. In his face, just red as blood. He just looked like (?) he was so red. Well, that cured him. He never did have it anymore. That remedy, what that old woman told him, just fixed it up right.

Gatewood: Up around Stearns?

Coffey: Well now, she lived in Stearns. Of course she’s dead now, I guess. Because she was old back then. That’s been a long time ago. That’s been 35, 40 years ago. Anyhow, what she told him cured it. Yeah.

Gatewood: That’s tremendous.

Coffey: Well now, these doctors that doctored it must have not knowed what to do.

Gatewood: I’m sure they didn’t, or they would have helped him.

Coffey: I don’t know what she was. She could have been a midwife out there. She could have been just any kind of a doctor, nurse or something.

Gatewood: Ever use that stuff that have wintergreen in it?

Coffey: Hell, you could use wintergreen. That’s what them old people called rat’s bane. Stays green year round. But now they call it wintergreen. Now they used to use that in the tea for bad colds. Pneumonic fever and stuff, they give it to you.

Gatewood: What could you use tobacco for? Did they used to use tobacco for, besides chewing it and smoking. What did they used to use tobacco for, for medicinal purposes?

Coffey: Well, they used tobacco sometimes to make a juice out of it. They could put that on stock, like a calf or mule, a horse, had lice on them. Wash them off in that tobacco (juice?). It would kill that lice. Now, they done that.

Gatewood: I remember when I was growing up. Seemed to me like they used to use it when you get a bee bite, too.

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: I remember when I was growing up, when you got a bee sting, they put tobacco on it. When I was a kid.

Coffey: Yeah.

Gatewood: You ever heard tell of anybody−

Coffey: Yeah, you can take a tic bite and wet you up some tobacco. Stick it on there a little while, it will draw all that poison out.

Gatewood: Would it even do, would it even help you with a snakebite?

Coffey: I guess it would. I never know of that being tried. But I guess it would help a snake bite. Anything that would draw would.

Gatewood: How about poke? You ever heard tell of them using poke root?

Coffey: Yeah. I remember that stuff. Back when I was a small kid, me and my brother caught what they called the seven years’ itch. [laughs] Well, we know if we told them about it, they’d doctor us with something or other. And they used this old sulfur grease, a lot of people did, for that. And we didn’t want that on us. We couldn’t stand the scent of that sulfur. But somehow or another, when they found out what we, when they caught us scratching, they wanted to know what was wrong. [laughs] We told them we didn’t know what, we were just itching all over. They knowed what it was. And then sent me and him out with a grubbing hoe. And we dug a big poke root out. Took it home. And they boiled it and poured the juice over in a tub. And we had to get in there. Wash all over. Stayed in there, I guess we stayed there for half an hour. Our hide got, felt like you (stickered your hand?) all over it. We come out there and we never did have the itch anymore. That just killed it. Killed it.

Gatewood: Ever hear tell of the May apple berry? You ever heard of that being used?

Coffey: Yeah. Them old people, some of them, used that May apple root. They’d take it, dry it, powder it up, and use it. I don’t know what for. Maybe stomach trouble. They got it, I know the one man used it, he wouldn’t use the joints of them roots. He got in between the joints to get that, powdered it up. And then he’d take a, just a little old point of a knife and take that stuff.

Gatewood: How about crabapple? Did they ever use that?

Coffey: I don’t know nothing about that.

Gatewood: Did they use blackberries and berries like that for anything?

Coffey: Oh, hell, I don’t know. I guess. They used the juice. Blackberry juice for some purpose. But they didn’t, they had to put other stuff in it. And I don’t know what they put. I think it’s a pretty good thing to settle somebody’s nerves when you get real nervous or something. They used it for that. And I don’t know whether they put aspirins in it or some other kind of a pills. But they used something different. They put cream in it. Just old cow cream.

Gatewood: Did they ever use it for coffee? Mixed up, keep it in coffee?

Coffey: They used that now, maybe if you hurt, cut or something, and it bleed a lot. And it get right trembly. They used that stuff, and it quiet them down. Quiet the nerve down. Some people use it.

[End 17 E 19b, Side A. Begin Side B.]

Coffey: They use that to break out things. And it do the job, too.

Gatewood: Now break out things, you mean to−

Coffey: Like measles. Something like that. It would break them out.

Gatewood: Make them go ahead and break out and get it over with.

Coffey: Yes. Got to break it out before they get any better. Then you got to watch and not let them go back too quick. Get out run around in the cold air or something might drive them back in. They claim where they draw them out, it make them hard to break back out again. I don’t know. That’s just what the old people talked. That’s all I know about that.

Gatewood: Well you probably did have measles, didn’t you, as a child?

Coffey: I had measles. That’s when I got up to be a teenager. I was up there on the mountain, above . Up there, staying at a place. And I took them. And I tell you, I was down with them. It had rained there for days. And the (water in the house leak?). The water just poured down in there. And there I was, and the man I was staying there with, he went over to and seen Doc Hill. Doc couldn’t come, he had to go to another place. But he told him, he said, “You go back, get you a box of ginger, and go back over there and make him some tea and give it to him. Then if he ain’t broke out in the morning, you get back over there after me.” Well, they made the teas and I drunk it. I got out the next morning, and I was just as speckled as a guinea all over. That stuff brought them measles out like. Oh, I was sick! I couldn’t drink water. It just tasted like (sweet?) water. I couldn’t hardly stand it. That’s supposed to be done for them, measles. Make ginger tea, and that broke them out. He’d tell you. If he couldn’t get there, he’d tell you what to do. (?) and he’d come as quick as he could.

Gatewood: He must have been a good man.

Coffey: He was. He was a good doctor. He’d done his doctoring all out here in the country. He moved to town one time, put him up a little office down there. He got to doctoring them people down there, and he was about to take all the trade away from other doctors. [laughs] They run him out. He had to get back out in the country. But he still doctoring people right on. Had a lot of them people in town, come on, (see me now?) He was a good man, in a way. He’d help you now when he wanted to. He told my uncle one time, he lived way (?) the state line. He always sent after Doc Hill. Doc lived right over there, I think. Well, (?) he was sick, boy. Something bad’s wrong with him. I come, got the doctor, and went back with him. We went in about one day. Doc Hill never done nothing for him except pulled him up a chair, and old man is laying on the bed. Pulled him up a chair and just (kept on?) looked at him. (?) to get him nothing. Next morning, Doc stayed there that night, next morning, he pulled his chair back up and sat a little while, just sat and looked at him. Watched. He got up, got his (bags?), got some little bitty pills. They weren’t as big as a bird’s eye. Fixed him up some of them. Told him how to take them. And he left. Well, by the next day, (?) going round where (?) Doc Hill told some more people in down there, he was the worst poison man he ever saw to be alive. And had the weakest heart of any man he ever saw to be alive. But I don’t know what was the matter with him, must have been his heart. But he never did take (?) to pay for that. Used up bills, I think.

Gatewood: What was Doc Hill’s first name? Do you remember?

Coffey: John.

Gatewood: John Hill.

Coffey: John Hill.

Gatewood: How’d he look?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: What kind of man, how’d he look?

Coffey: Oh, he was a big, tall man. Tall. Tall boned fellow. He wasn’t no big, flashy, fat man like some people, thank you. Just kind of what I’d call just a kind of a big, raw-boned man. [laughs] But (?) owed a lot. He’d doctor people.

Gatewood: Where’d he learn all this?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Where did he learn?

Coffey: He went to medical school somewhere. I don’t know where he went. But he went to a medical school, and he learned how to be a doctor. And it was a long time before he got any license to be a doctor. You see, they had to pay for it. Had to buy that license. I guess he finally, after he got up, after he got enough money, he got it. He doctored under other doctors, I reckon, for a long time. They kept the law off of him. Told him what to do and this and that. And then when he did get to where he could, he got his license. Some of the fellows he went to school with said all the difference it was was between them and Doc Hill, they had money to buy their license, this doc didn’t. That he knowed as much as they knowed, but he just didn’t have enough money to get his doctor’s license. That’s what he had to have, money to buy the license. And he knowed just as much as they knowed. The same thing that they knowed. But he didn’t have the money to buy. That’s what I hear talked. I don’t know how true that was.

Gatewood: Did he, was he born and raised here? Or did he come in from−

Coffey: He was born and raised right back up this river here. I don’t know, where (Rector Burnett?) lived. Maybe the same place. I think Rector finally bought that old farm (?). That’s where Doc was raised up at.

Gatewood: I guess he read a lot of books, didn’t he? Medical books and things?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: Did he read medical books and things?

Coffey: Yes, he had a lot of books. I don’t know, I guess he read, he read them books. Of course, he had to go to that school. He’d read all about that medicine.

Gatewood: Did he have anybody in his family that had been doctoring? Doctoring?

Coffey: No, not that I know of. That old man, his daddy, his name was Dick Hill. I don’t, he never was a doctor. I guess he knowed a lot, but he didn’t, he wasn’t no doctor.

Gatewood: Did we talk about Dr. Clark? You told me one time there was a Dr. Clark. An herb doctor.

Coffey: There was one, over there in .

Gatewood: What was his first name?

Coffey: John.

Gatewood: John, too.

Coffey: Don Clark.

Gatewood: Don.

Coffey: He’s a doctor, but everybody call him Dr. Clark. But his name’s John Clark. He doctored people with herbs over there. Now them people over ought to know all about him, people that lived around him. He doctored with herbs. And everybody talked about him, said he was a good doctor. And he had some boys. One boy called Mitchell Clark. And he lived to be an old man. A lot of them people got to coughing around over there. I guess it was a cold or something. A hack. Couldn’t get nothing to do it no good. Another fellow know Mitchell, he’s well acquainted with him. And he went and told him to fix up something for them people. And Mitchell told him, he said, “No.” He said, “I wouldn’t do that at all.” He said, “If I was to fix up something and maybe some of them died,” he said, “they’d get me in trouble.” He said, “I ain’t got no license to doctor people with.” But this fellow told him, he said, “I’ll fix it up and I’ll take it to them. And they’ll never know where they got it.” [laughs] and he fixed up some syrup, some kind of syrup. Cough syrup. And took it down to them. And why, it weren’t no time till they was all well. Nobody coughing. It killed it.

Gatewood: And that was Dr. Clark’s son?

Coffey: That’s doctor’s son. He wouldn’t give them nothing himself. He told him, said, “I wouldn’t do it at all.”

Gatewood: What did he do? Was he a farmer? Or did he work out?

Coffey: Huh?

Gatewood: What did a son do for a living?

Coffey: He just lived around over there and worked around on little jobs around. (?) and maybe raised a garden and a little corn and stuff. That’s all he ever done. I think maybe he worked on a railroad some (?)

Gatewood: Around Stearns.

Coffey: Anyhow, he worked enough. Paid in his social security. After he got old enough, he went to (?) Well, now, that helped him a lot.

Gatewood: And is he living?

Coffey: No, he’s dead, too. He died of old age. [laughs]

Gatewood: Are there any of Dr. Clark’s relatives living that I could interview?

Coffey: I couldn’t say, but I guess there are. He had another boy. His name was Jim Clark. But he dead, too. And he had one named Bole Clark. And I don’t know whether he’s dead or not. I couldn’t say.

Gatewood: What was that first name?

Coffey: Bole. Bole .

Gatewood: B-o? B-o what?

Coffey: B-o-l-e, I guess.

Gatewood: Bole . Maybe I’ll look and see if he’s living. Did he have any daughters?

Coffey: Yeah, Bole had some children.

Gatewood: I mean, did Dr. Clark have any daughters that might be living?

Coffey: Oh, yeah. He had some girls. I don’t know. He had one called Suse. And the rest of them, I don’t know their names. I don’t know whether they’re all living or not now. I couldn’t tell you. They’d be getting old.

Gatewood: Do you remember who she married?

Coffey: She married an old man, that Sue did. Called him George Jones. Over there. But he’s dead. He died. He was old when him and her married. Of course she’s getting old, too. But I guess they’re both dead now. I used to go over in there some, but I ain’t been in that country for years and years now. I just don’t know (?) tell you a lot about them. Joe Roberts’ boys, one of them lives over there. He’s named Hobart Roberts. And he knows all about them old people. They probably sat and talked and told him all about it. And then Earl Jones lived around over there. I guess he knows a lot about him, too. There’s a lot of them over in there knows all about John Clark. The younger ones. Them old ones that lived in his days is all about gone. I guess they’re all gone. And the young fellows, some of them up around my age, they all know a whole lot of that. About how they doctored people over there. You see, (?) that went to school and got a good, high education, it might have been something besides just somebody sitting around listening to somebody else. [laughs] See, all I could do was sit and listen. Didn’t hear what they said. And that’s all I know about it.

Gatewood: But that’s been very, very, very helpful. You never know how much it is. It’s good that you did sit and listen. You learned some very interesting things. I really appreciate you helping me. Very much. I think that it’s sort of like a detective. I can find more and more out about the past. Because see, if we don’t tell these things to our people, the generations following, they’ll never know them. Because a lot of you didn’t write. So you didn’t write books and you didn’t, this is the only way we got. And you, you’ve got a good memory and you’ve been honest and I appreciate it very much. To the best of your ability.

Coffey: Well, a fellow can remember things sometimes that happen back when he was just a little fellow that he couldn’t remember now if it was to happen. [laughter]

Gatewood: That’s right.

Coffey: See, I can remember things that happened to me when I was just a little old five year-old boy. And it seems like it happened just now, it happened.

Gatewood: Can you think of one thing, and we’ll close with that, one thing that you might remember when you were just a little five year-old boy?

Coffey: Yeah. My dad had some big brown pills. They was just as sweet as honey on the outside. He had a whole great big box full of them. And he bought somewhere, got them from some doctor or something. Well they kept them pills in the house. And this young, five year-old always liked sugar. [laughs] I found out they was sweet. And I slipped them out one day. And I got up under the floor, under the house. I sat there and I just took all the outside of them off. I just sat down and sucked on them pills till I got all of them. Sweet as honey. I got sick. I hid the pills. Laid them up on the sill in under there. Set them up on a box. Well, I got sick. I thought I was going to die. [laughs] My mother, my grandpa, he could talk. “Don’t know what in the world’s the matter with him! I don’t know what to do for him!” I heard one of them say, “Well, he may die.” Well, that scared me. [laughs] That scared me. So I said well, I’ll just tell them what I done. I told them about that. Well, that tickled them. Well, they said, “You just got the outside of them. The sweet part.” So they kept on fixing stuff for me to take. Seemed to me like they fixed baking soda water. Put it in some water and I drunk it. That made me (melt it off?). I got to feeling a little better. But I finally had to vomit. That did help me. Well, I never did slip out no more pills that I didn’t know nothing about. [laughs]

[End Session.]