Page 19 - George Maxwell Family Stories
ISSUE : Issue 28
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1981/6/1
that's how my grandfather was brought up since he was a little kid--ate the same food and everything. My mother'd wash wool, and what they didn't send to the carding mill, she had flat things for carding it, for making the rolls. She'd make all our mitts and socks and underwear. And you had to get used to it, that underwear would be right itchy--but it kept you warm.... (And when somebody died?) There was always a neighbour around, you'd build a casket. (And a wake?) Oh, yes. In those days you'd stay up for three nights. And the people at the wake--you'd have to feed them all. But there's nothing like that goes on now. I've helped make those caskets--I didn't have the knowledge. All I was doing was labour work. This old fellow, every time I'd go to help him, he used to get two quarts of rum and MacDonald's Twist--he'd be chewing that MacDonald's Twist and drinking rum, making the casket all night. I was going to tell you about my grand? mother. If somebody came to buy a cow or anything from my father, and, well, say they didn't make the deal, maybe he wanted too much for the cow, and the fellow who was buying him didn't want it--he'd go a- way without buying the cow. Well, my grand? mother used to say, "Well, that fellow might have put his eye in the cow and she's gonna get sick." Well, we used to get a washtub that the Indians used to make--there were no galvanized tubs then-- staves in them. And put so much water in the tub and put 50 cents in it and wash the cow's head with that--you know? So the man wouldn't put his eye in it. Well, that's superstitious stuff, you know what I mean. (Did she have a rhyme to go with that?) No, I never heard her say any rhyme. And my grandmother used to think there were forerunners. If anybody was going to die, she was going to hear something--you know, sawing boards or something like that. I remember one time there was a fellow boarding at our place. He came home to sup? per and he went back to work that night, and he got killed. They were unloading coal and it was coming up in a big bucket, you know--and this fellow was up on top of the staging and the bucket fired him off of the staging. He went down between the boat and the wharf, and he was killed. But one night, before this fellow got killed, my grandmother said to my father that there was somebody at the door. My father got up and he went to the door and there was nobody at the door. And he said to my mother, "I believe the old lady is getting queer in the head. There was nobody there." AnjHA'ay, this thing happened. So the night that his people came from St. Peters--she said, "Oh, George, that's the same knock I heard the other night." And when my father went to the door, it was this boy's par? ents come over because they got word he'd died. And the old Scotch cures. I know that I've drunk mare's milk for, I think it was the whooping cough. And for the measles, they used to give you sheep manure's tea. If you said that to a person today, they'd think you were crazy. (Did you ever have them apply salt mackerel to your feet for fever--and in the morning the mackerel would be cooked, and the fever gone?) No. But what I have seen my father do for a sprained wrist--put an eel skin on. He'd let it dry--hang it on a fence or some? thing and it would dry out--and then when it was dry, if he sprained his wrist, he'd put it on just like that strap there. Used to take the pain out and leave it flexible. He'd wear it for a long time. But if you went to bed with an eel skin on today, your wife would kick you out of bed. And we planned on the moon. My father al? ways planned on the moon, watch the calen? dar- -we never killed the animal at the de? creasing of the moon. Because they used to say, well, when you cook it, it shrinks up. If you got a roast and you roasted it, the bone would be sticking out that far out of the meat after it was cooked--so there must have been shrinkage there someplace. MacLeod's Bookstore Ltd. Books on Caoe Breton Images of Cape Breton, photos by Warren Gordon 18.95 Black Around the Eyes, Jeremy Akerman 14.95 The Nova Scotia Traveller, Wm B. Hamilton 9.95 Still Standing, Terry Sunderland 7.95 The Akerman Years, Paul MacEwan 6.95 Cruise Cape Breton, Cape Breton Development Corp. 9.98 Louisbourg, John Fortier & Owen Fitzgerald (photos) 12 DOWN NORTH: The Book of Cape Breton's Magazine 12.95 KM''i r '' ' I 361 Charlotte street - p. O. Box 658 i * o'''i/'i* , Mail Orders | '''''' '''' 5'',,' A Specialty I CANADA I
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