MOULEDOUS AND 'LA TRAITEUSE'
Dr. Mouledous was a friend of Dad's and often went duck hunting with him, but I remember only two house calls he made to our house during the time we lived in Perry. Once, when I had a big toe that had got infected from some ant bites and my whole foot had swollen to twice its normal size. My mother tried all sorts of home remedies, such as mutton suet mixed with Epsom salts and a poultice of bread soaked in hot milk, but nothing helped much, and when she tried to press the area to remove the pus, I squealed like a stuck pig. When she noticed red streaks beginning to climb up my leg, she knew it was time to call the doctor. Doc Mouledous came out and brought some black salve to apply to the three ant bites on my toe. Late in the afternoon the next day, by bending my toe myself, I was able to pop the darned thing. Three "cores" flew out and hit the wall behind the bed and just stuck there! Two days later I was back in school.
The second time Dr. Mouledous came to our house, was to deliver Dee's baby. Mom had always had a midwife when her babies were born, but this was her baby having a baby! She insisted that Dr. Mouledous had to do this job! She was happy that she had called him, because it was quite a difficult birth.
were many times, though, that we were doctored with sassafras tea and cough
syrup made from mamou beans, and once when Jerry had little "summer boils"
all over his body, Mom remembered a remedy that an old colored woman had
given her. She had Jerry eat three tablespoons of dry flour for nine
days in a row.
There was the time, too, when Grandpa had what he called a carbuncle on the front of his left leg. I don't think that is what it was, because the wound was deep, almost to the bone, and it was badly discolored. Mom tried everything she could think of to heal that sore, even some stuff they sent me to get at Ardoin's Pharmacy in Abbeville. I gladly walked the six miles to and from the pharmacy to get that medicine for my grandpa!
Finally, Grandpa decided that he would go to see an old Indian woman who lived near Houma, many miles from Perry, because she was quite famous in the area as a traiteuse (treater, or medicine woman). He paddled up the bayou to the bridge in Abbeville, and from there he hitched rides all the way to Houma. He surely had a story to tell when he got home! He said that she first tied him securely to a chair which was bolted to the floor of her cabin. Then she took a hot poker out of the coals in the fireplace and used that to "burn" or cauterize the wound. The pain was so intense that he fainted dead away. She packed the hole with a mixture of moss, clay and moldy leaves (penicillin?) that she had gathered in the woods near her cabin, and put a bandage on his leg. She kept him tied to that chair for three days, feeding him some kind of soup at intervals, day and night. At the end of the three days, she unbound him and sent him down to the bayou to bathe. (I imagine he was smelling pretty "ripe" by that time!) On the fourth day, he started the journey home, and arrived in Perry five days after he had left to go to Houma.
I know that Grandpa left with a bad sore on his leg, and came home with it almost healed, but I cannot vouch for the details of his story, because Grandpa sometimes tended to "embroider" his tales a bit.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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