Chapter 13 – Elmo Born, Moving to Salem

When I got home July 29, 1913, from writing insurance, I found Jennie sick and the doctor and some women there. Sunday morning we sent for Dr. Goff, and Sunday afternoon Goff asked for the doctor from Auburn, which we got at once. At 6 p.m. Sunday Elmo was born. He weighed 4 pounds dressed, and he was so small that I laid him down flat in a shoe box that rubber shoes had come in. The doctors told the women that they didn’t expect the mother nor babe to live.

For two weeks Jennie took only a little water off slippery elm, buttermilk and sucked the juice from melons (watermelons), and for several days she could not swallow any water. At the end of two weeks on Sabbath morn her feet began to get cold. We put hot blankets on her, but a cold clammy sweat stood on her. By evening she was cold to her knees. The doctor was out of town. We watched for him and got some alcohol, which we put in a pan with hot water and rubbed her feet and legs. She said the first they rubbed her, she felt it go to the end of her fingers. She got warm in a little while and felt so good that she thought she could drink some chicken broth. She got better ever after that. When Cynthia Collins killed a young chicken and brought her up some soup that night, she drank a half teacup of it and said it tasted good. She ate some juices, etc. from that time on.

How about the little boy? Sarah and Draxie asked the doctor what they should feed him, and the doctor said give him a drop or two of milk, if anything. They let him lie till Monday evening, when they said it was a shame to not give him anything to eat. So they prepared some Eskey Baby Food, which we had ordered for Jennie but she couldn’t take it. The little chap took a bottle full and went to sleep. In one week he had gained five ounces. He continued to gain at that rate until they failed to have his brand and sent Nestles; this made him sick at once. Before we could get Eskey’s, five days later, he had lost three ounces; but he gained this back and five more ounces in a week. The whooping cough was very thick in Berea, and Elmo (that is what we decided to call him) got it several times (which one would think was tough on one little boy) but he came through without having it at all. After we had been at Salem some time, the women told Jennie that they felt so sorry for her when she first came for they were sure the baby would live but a short time. Jennie kept on improving; she was able to sit up a little after about three weeks. It was over a month before she could begin to walk.

Another Incident with Mike Jett’s Family: Mike Jett had a cat that was killing our young chickens, and I tried to kill it. One of the girls went down to Mike’s shop to get Ivy to come up and get me. I didn’t know it, but Jennie was sitting by the window listening to all that was said-enjoying it, too. They got water from our well, and the children stole every thing they could get their hands on. After she had sworn that if I killed the cat I’d lose lots more, I told her for all of them to stay on the other side of the fence. She finally called me a liar. I ran to the fence and started to climb over when Ivy headed for the house in haste. I was afraid Jennie might be excited, so I went to the house. She was still laughing and said it was the funniest thing she ever saw. I was glad she enjoyed it.

Gangs in Berea-Our Decision to Move to Salem

I told some of the better folks in Berea if they would help me we would break up some of the rowdying of a lot of the boys and girls in Berea. But no one seemed to be willing to help. Every time Ashby was out after dark, they would yell at him and rock him so that I was afraid for him to be out by himself. When Brady came home for Thanksgiving, five boys of Brady’s age followed him and Ashby on their way to church on Slab, where I was teaching, and rocked them and tried to take their lantern away from them; but Brady backed them off. Some of the boys had clubs, and some had open knives. As I came back with them, they were not bothered. This, with other things, made me so mad that I decided to move to Salem in the spring.

When John Meredith heard I was leaving, he came to me and said, “Pressie, don’t do it. Stay here, and I will back my back up against your back, and all hell can’t prevail against us.” I told him I had offered to help clean the dirty mess out, but no one seemed interested; so I was going to Salem. That is why we moved to Salem and left our friends and home behind, and I have never regretted it. The move opened up a new life for my family, and they all had a chance for an education such as we never had. We did not foresee the things which would happen-some of which would be good and some bad.

My school on Slab was not a complete success as there was one family that did everything they could to give me trouble (and they gave me plenty). But I came out okay.

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