A talk with faith healer Mrs. Andy Webb from “Foxfire One” the first book in the Foxfire series.
Several days later, we were traveling in our jeep far off the main road. The dirt track took us across a divide on the flank of Pickens’ Nose, and as we came down into a hollow we saw a ramshackle house on our left. Slopping to get acquainted with the family who lived there, we mentioned that we were looking for healers. As it turned out, the matriarch of the huge family that lived there was a healer herself, and she agreed to tell us what she could.
“I can blow fire out. I can stop blood. I can cure th’ thrash. I do all that by th’ help o’th’ Lord. I don’t do that by myself. If I ain’t got th’ Lord wi’me …”
She hesitated, so we asked her if she could teach someone. She said, “I can’t blow fire or cure th’ thrash or anything like that if I tell anybody. I don’t know if I can teach anyone. I never did try.”
There was a long silence, so we asked her how she found out she could do it.“By th’ hand o’th’ Lord,” came the reply.
“How old were you?” we asked.
“I don’t know how old I am now, an’ I don’t know how old I was.”
A few more false starts followed. Gradually, however, sensing our genuine interest, she began to talk freely and naturally.
“My son, Jim, his child’s nose commenced bleedin’ one night at th’ supper table, and they live away down yonder in Georgia. An’ he said t’his brother, ‘I’m a’gonna’ take him t’Momma.’
“Well, when they come, they had him rolled up in a sheet and that blood—hit was just as bloody as it could be. Y’couldn’t tell whether it’uz a sheet or what. And he just come in th’ door and said, ‘Here, Momma. I want ya’ t’stop Lewis’s nose from bleedin’.’
“I said, ‘All right,’ and he laid him down in m’lap and it’d just squirt. Ever’ time his pulse’d beat, y’know, it’d squirt. And it wasn’t long though ’til it stopped bleedin’ and it’s never bled another drop.
“To do it, you don’t have ta’ touch the person. I can just talk t’th’ Lord and it’s all right. And when y’blow fire, you blow on th’ burned place an’ say somethin’—it’s out’a th’ Bible, but I can’t read a word of th’ Bible—not a word. I can’t read. And I can’t write. It’s just a gift from God. I just commenced at it.”
Soon she was talking about thrash. “It’s in a child’s mouth and it can’t eat, and if it’s a’nursin’ th’ breast it gets all in th’ breast and they can’t stand fer ’em t’nurse. It just comes up in yaller blisters. Ther’s three kinds of thrash. There’s white thrash, and yaller thrash and black thrash. And th’ yaller thrash’s th’ one that’s s’hard t’cure. It just comes up in clear blisters, and they can’t eat ner they can’t drink. I can cure all three kinds.
“My goddaughter brung her two twin babies up hyear an’they had th’ thrash and I doctored them and got them well and here she come back. It was in her breast, an’ I doctored it and cured it.
“Doctors tell everybody goes to ’em with a baby with th’ thrash t’go hunt’em up a thrash doctor. A neighbor’s child had th’ thrash, and they hunted everwhar. They took it t’th’ doctor out yonder t’Clayton, an’ he said he couldn’t do nothin’ fer it. Says, ‘If you know whar there’s ary a thrash doctor, you better hunt it up and right now.’ So they commenced huntin’ and they come down hyear t’Mrs. Rogers, and she said she’d quit, so she told ’em t’come on up hyear. They fetched th’ baby on up hyear an’ I doctored it, an’ I told ’em t’bring it back th’ next day. It had th’ thrash bad. So they brung hit an’ two more—they’d took th’ thrash. I doctored them and cured’em up. I had t’ tell ’em t’bring ’em back, they had it s’bad.”
When we asked her about drawing fire, she had another story for us. “My grandson burnt his arm on th’ power saw—it’uz hot. And he burnt his arm and he come up hyear night before last night I believe it was, and I blowed th’ fire out of it. He said it hurt awful bad. I told him t’come back if it didn’t quit burnin’, but he didn’t come back. I reckon it’s all right.
“I don’t have t’be alone. I can be right in a crowd and do that. They don’t hear me. They don’t know what I say. I just talk t’th’ Lord and that’s all.”
Soon her husband, Andy, joined in the conversation. “I tell y’what I seed her do one time. We lived on Mud Creek up yonder. One of our neighbor’s boy there had a big, black horse, and he’uz back over at a little place at work and throwed his mowin’ blade down, and th’horse’uz a’pickin’ around there and he happened t’run against it, and he cut his front leg plumb inta th’ bone just like that [demonstrating]. And that horse had bled ’til he’uz s’weak he couldn’t hardly walk. They’uz goin’ t’try t’get a doctor up there t’see about him, and Zero told’em she could stop th’blood. And they stopped then with th’ horse in th’ road’n hollered and told her t’come up there. She told’em wan’no use, just t’stand still a few minutes. And they said in less’n five minutes that horse’s leg was quit bleedin’.
“I’ve seed her doctor lots’a times. They was a fella’ over here on th’ creek. His wife, she got burnt s’bad. I don’t know how she did get burnt myself. And they doctored and doctored and doctored and some woman told’em about her. She went t’see’er and she begun doctorin’ her. Just a few days she could turn over in her bed and roll back. And she was burnt all down her back, plumb down to her hips. I don’t know how she got it done. I believe th’ boy did tell us, didn’t he?”
Mrs. Webb said, “I believe that a candle blowed up. Some way r’nother thataway. I can’t think back like I used to.”
We talked on about other things until it was past time to make our way back down the mountain. As we left, we thanked them, and Mrs. Webb answered, “All I’ve got’s been a gift from God, and it’s perfect. But when people get old like me an’ him, younger people don’t pay much attention to’em. They don’t come to’em for advice like they should.”