Dear Smiley: I would guess the traiteurs (Cajun healers) you described in previous columns are representative of similar healers in other cultures, where unconventional treatments were as good as you could get in a remote area, or at a time when doctors were not available — like 1903.
Our European grandmother told us the story of how my father, as a toddler, tipped a bowl of boiling hot soup off the table and suffered a severe burn on his throat that wouldn’t heal.
A woman, who at the time would be called a gypsy, came to the door asking for “any chickens who have died recently.” She noted our father’s wound and asked about it. When Grandma said it was a burn, the woman said, “Put goose grease on it.”
Grandma was at a loss for what to do, but since goose grease was available, she tried it.
In a few days, the wound was healing.
I often wondered about this, until I read an article that said goose grease had burn-healing properties.
Dad carried a red scar across his throat, about which he made up fantastic stories to tell our mother.
Dear Smiley: My great-uncle, John Borne, was a traiteur. I lived next door to him in Garyville, and lovingly called him Pop John.
He treated people from all over the area for warts and sprains. But the one that impressed me the most was when he treated my younger brother Ed for, as people called it, the croup.
"He cut a small amount of my brother's hair and placed it in a cut he made in a tree. He also said prayers.
Ed never had another episode of croup to this day. He is 71 years old.
LYNNE LAICHE ACOSTA
Dear Smiley: Do the people at the paper know something we don't?
They are putting you awful close to the obituary column. Or is this on purpose, since most people go to your column for daily insight, then to obituary pages to see if they have to go to work.
Dear Billy: It's better to have your name in my column than in the obits.
Dear Smiley: When I taught nautical subjects at the Fletcher Community College in Houma, one of my fellow instructors, Tim, was retired from the Coast Guard.
He told me that when he was in the Coast Guard, he and his boat had been sent to Alaska to help with the great Exxon oil spill.
After being up there for some months, and having only standard American coffee to drink, they saw an offshore supply boat from Louisiana arrive.
They called that boat and begged for some Community Dark Roast Coffee, and the boat sent them some.
Tim told me that was the best thing that happened to them during all the time that they were up there.
Dear Smiley: My mother made coffee by mixing one pound of Community Coffee with one pound of J&B Coffee. Both were dark roast and made a really good blend.
In order to make the coffee, a small drip pot was placed in a pot of boiling water on the stove, and a demitasse was used to pour a small amount of water over the grinds.
It was a rather slow process, but the result was a cup of coffee that you could stand a spoon in!
I had no problem staying awake when I studied for finals!
Dear Smiley: Now that we are in May, many engaged couples are looking ahead to June weddings.
Going back in time, most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.
However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.
Dear Marvin: Well, you've done it! You've ruined weddings for me! Now I probably won't have another one…