Inside Front cover - Kenneth MacKenzie, Northeast Margaree
ISSUE : Issue 27
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/12/1
Kenneth MacKenzie, Northeast Margaree My grandmother was a MacLean, They had had to change their names from MacGregor to MacLean because MacGregors were outlawed in Scotland at that time--so she happened to come here as a MacLean. And I remember her. She was 102, I think, when she died. And her cheeks were as red--when she was over 100, And she had all her teeth. And they told me that she grew a tooth when she was something over 70, And she had a son who had a double set of teeth. And he never lost a tooth, and he was 85 when he died. But my grandfather--I'11 tell you this. Years ago, my grandfather, he was quite a man to swear. Although he was a Presbyter? ian. But there was one woman, she was very very religious--and she was bedridden. And she was in a bed right off of the kitchen. And my grandfather went in the house one day and he sat down at the stove, and I guess the language he was using was terri? ble. And she chastized him for swearing, "Well," he said, "if you had the same thing wrong with you that I got"--remember, she xi/as bedridden; but he considered his ailment worse--he said, "If you had the same thing wrong with you, you'd be swear? ing, too," "Well," she said, "what's wrong?" He said he had a toothache. She said, "Well, if I could get to where I'd want to go with you, I'd cure your toothache," He said, "Where do you want to go?" So she described the place--it was a spring up in the side of a hill, in the side of the mountain, up in the Big Intervale there, And they could see it from where they were. Well anyway, he said, get up there," 'I'll see that j'ou So it was all feather beds they had. He went home and he took one of those ticks off the bed, and he emptied the feathers out of it and went and put her in this tick, and carried her up the mountain where she wanted to go, And she went through whatever ritual it was--I did hear it. It was a prayer that she said, and he had to say it too--and it was in Gaelic they were saying it. And he took a mouth? ful of water and said a prayer, and she scooped up a sod or he scooped it up, and he spit under the sod and put the sod back. Well, his toothache disappeared. But a few years afterward, my mother came home, just before I was born. And she had a toothache. And she wasn't too old at the time, and she complained of this toothache, and my grandfather told her this story a- bout the old lady curing his toothache. She said, "I wish the old lady was here now"--she had died. "Well," he said, "I re? member exactly what she did. If you want to go and try it, we'll go," Well, they went up. I remember my mother talking about it. They had to cross the river on horseback, and she fell off right in the middle of the river. But anyhow, they got up to this spring and they went through the same performance as this old lady did. My mother never had toothache a- gain. And I've never had toothache in my life, I don't know what toothache means. And my mother (when she was older) sat on a chair in the kitchen there, and the doc? tor came and pulled, I think, 15 teeth, and she didn't even have it frozen. She was quite old when the doctor pulled her teeth. And I've got teeth broken off right to the gum--and I never had toothache. And this happened through her, I wasn't born when my grandfather took her up there-- that was just before I was born, (And they do say that these things have to be transmitted from a man to a woman,.,,) And from a woman to a man. But those old fellows that came from Scotland, they all had that. And I've often heard the old fel? lows talking about this same woman--this woman was a MacPherson, All I ever heard them call her was Widow MacPherson, You know, there'd be kids around, and a fellow would get a piece of bark or something in his eye--and then the kids would run up to this old lady and tell her that a certain person had something in his eye. She'd go through some kind of a ritual--the person would probably be miles away--and she'd come up with that piece of bark. They used to say she'd take a cup of water--but no? body knew just what she did--nobody ever saw. She'd go in her room,
CONTINUED ON PAGE 32 COVER PHOTO: Gladys Griffith MacDonald, Indian Brook, and Sarah MacDonald, Skir Dhu. BACK COVER: Photos inside the Sydney Steel Plant, courtesy Nova Scotia Communications and Information Centre.
Cape Breton's Magazine