Uncle Pink Brown

From Doctor May Cravath Wharton’s Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands (p. 64 – 66 ):

” A little boy all out of breath had coming running into my office crying, ‘Uncle Pink’s done broke his laig.’

“Gathering up all the paraphernalia I could think of, I started off. During the two-mile walk over to Browntown, I cudgeled my brain, trying to think of the best way to handle a broken leg so far from the source of supplies.

“Uncle Pink and Aunt Jinney, both past ninety, lived in a picturesque log cabin beneath a great jack pine as twisted as a tree in a Japanese water color. Around the small clearing on which it stood stretched a weathered rail fence. Aunt Jinney was standing in the doorway as we came in sight and I could hear her ordering the dog to lie down. The sagging gate swung back behind me by the weight of an old wheel hub. Across the front of the house was a long stoop on which stood the wash bench with the water bucket and gourd dipper and wash pan. Beside the door was a small pile of dry firewood and against the wall of the house hung or leaned the implements of outside work from saddle to axe.

“Aunt Jinny welcomed me warmly. I had taken care of her and Uncle Pink during the flu epidemic and we were friends. In front of the fireplace she placed for a me a little mountain chair, worn by use to an individuality like that found in men’s old felt hats. A word about the weather, a question about my comfort must come before any mention of poor old Uncle Pink, who lay groaning on his bed in the corner. With the amenities disposed of, I was free to look at him.

“It took only a minute to discover that his hip was broken. How patient he was while Jinny and I with the help of several neighbors prepared flour sacks full of dry, warm sand to act as splints. A cast was undesirable, but sand bags did excellently, and flatirons made very good weights for traction. I made him comfortable and came often during the next week or two to see the old man.

“You’ve lived here a long time, Uncle Pink,’ I said to him one day after I had adjusted his splint.

“All my ninety year, Doc,’ he said. ‘My pappy was one o’ the first settlers. He picked out this land and bought it from the companies. Paid a dollar and a dollar twenty-five an acre for it, too, he did ‘ceptin’ for oncet when he swapped razors with a feller an’ got a hundred acres to boot.’

“Land still seems awfully cheap here, Uncle Pink,’ I said. ‘They tell me you could buy a thousand acres in this county for three dollars an acre right now.’

“You could so,’ Uncle Pink said, ‘but not real good farmin’ land. And ourn were the best. We took lots o’ timber, but mostly we farmed. We raised Irish potatoes and corn mostly, and plenty of beans in the cornfields. Hogs run in the woods by the hundred, fattening on the mast.’

“Mast, Uncle Pink? I don’t believe I know what that is.’

“Hit’s acorns, Dr. May. White oak acorns make the finest of bacon.”

“What did you do when you got sick, Uncle Pink? It must have been pretty hard to get a doctor. Didn’t you have one?”

“Not much, we didn’t. If we got bad sick, we fetched a doctor from Sparta and we had to pay him twenty-five good dollars to come. But there was hardly any sickness. When we had a cold, we would jump in the river and break it.”

“We went to the camp ground to school. The Methodists and the Baptists united and had meetings there. There was no fighting or drinking then and no bootleggers a-tall. You could buy whiskey for twenty-five cents a gallon from the still and hit had been runned through twicet. There was no law agin’ it. Nobody got drunk neither, even though a little bucket of whiskey or apple brandy with a little gourd dipper set on the stoop at gatherings right beside the big water bucket with the big dipper.”

Published by SmallBiz Staffing, LLC

Locally owned staffing company in Crossville, TN.

Leave a Reply