Mandane and her siblings
Poor health seemed to plague my great-grandmother's family, the Dicks of Greenland Farm, Darby Township, Pickaway County, Ohio. My great-grandmother Mandane and her younger sister Blanche, for example, were married in a double wedding ceremony on October 19, 1892. Less than a year later, Blanche was dead! One of her obituaries stated,
"For four months she was confined to her bed with lung trouble, much of the time suffering intensely, but she bore her affliction without a murmur; always cheerful, she had a smile and a kind word for everyone.
Their brother, Oscar McClellan, had heart trouble and Bright's disease (an ailment of the kidneys). His obituary states he was ill for a year before he died:
"He was a great sufferer but bore the most excrutiating pain like a Grecian hero. There was no murmur or complaint."
Another sister, Mame, was also reported to be quite sickly. Part of her obituary reads,
"Mrs. Beale's whole life was spent in Mt. Sterling and vicinity, except the absence occasioned by her search for health. Practically all of her life was that of an invalid. Rare indeed were the days that she was free from bodily suffering..."
Like her siblings, Mame bore it all with a smile.
Ironically, while Mame was in the hospital, another sister, Olevia, who lived in another town, arranged to visit Mame during her hospital stay. When she failed to appear at the specified time, an inquiry was made. As the newspaper account puts it,
"As she did not put in an appearance at the hospital...Clarence Dick, a nephew, went to the home about 8:30 to investigate. He found Mrs. Leist [Olevia] dead, lying across two chairs in the dining room, dressed and ready for her trip... She had been subject to heart trouble and it is presumed a sudden attack of this disease caused her demise."
I loved to visit my great-aunt, who was the daughter of Mandane, and hear stories about this family. During one of my visits, we were looking at an old family photograph and I commented upon the fact my great-grandmother didn't look well. Aunt Mary said, "This must have been taken when Mother had her liver ailment. They didn't expect her to live. Yes, I'm sure this was taken at that time."
Of course, I had to ask to hear all the details, and out came the story of Mandane and the Quack. I am fortunate to have an old audio tape of Aunt Mary telling the story, and since the story is about her mother, I'll put it down in Aunt Mary's words, excactly as she told it to me.
"In mother's late thirties or early forties she had a sick spell and everybody thought she wasn't going to live. She thought it was her stomach, but they found out it wasn't her stomach at all - it was her liver!
It's a long story. We don't believe in quacks, you know - but I'm very careful what I say about doctors that don't meet all the standards. This one cured her.
This was a foreign doctor that she was taken to by her cousin, because he'd cured her cousin with his patent medicine. Mother was scared to death when she went to his office, because all of them talked a foreign language. Evidently he was Austrian. He had made this patent medicine of some kind that cured most people that came to him. It was a tonic that had all the herbs and good things in it that people needed.
She got to his office and he told her her past [medical] history, and that frightened her, but what he said was true, so she stayed. He reached up on this top shelf and got down a bottle of this patent medicine. There again, she was afraid to take it! But he told her to take it for...I've forgotten how many weeks, before she'd notice any improvement. Sure enough, after so many weeks, she commenced to show improvement - and she got totally over it! I was just a little girl then, but I remember it because nobody thought she'd live, and that was when the picture was taken."
Maybe Mandane's siblings should have made a visit to the "quack" as well!
Mandane's daughter drew a useful lesson from this little incident in her mother's life You might have caught it already when you read the words "I'm very careful what I say...." I never heard my great-aunt say anything harsh or critical about anyone, and I knew her a long time, as she lived to be ninety-six years old. She was a person who took the commands of her faith seriously, paying attention to some uncomfortable words in the book of James:
"...take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire... All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." (from Chapter 3)
My Aunt Mary saw to it this could not be said of her. The discipline she exercised in guarding her speech would have pleased her mother, for Mandane (by all accounts) was just such another. That, if I may say so, is a legacy worth passing on!
Emma Mandane Dick Lutz
1866 - 1938
What a lesson for all of us from your great aunt and great grandmother! I loved your transcription of your great aunt's words in the conversational style of the day. The pics were great!
How lucky you are to have your Aunt Mary on tape--a real treasure! Can you upload any of it to audio on the site?
Thanks for your comment, Janet. Unfortunately, my aunt was struggling with bronchitis at the time she told the story, and every other word was interrupted by a cough, otherwise I would have uploaded the story. But thanks for the suggestion - you're right. It would have been wonderful to hear her tell it.
What a delightful glimpse into the past, when quacks and snake oil salesmen were so popular. I've often believed that the cure relied more on the cost of the tonic rather than the contents!
Thanks for your kind comments, Annie. As for me, I think it wasn't the cost as much as the subconscious suggeston. But then, maybe you have a point!
A compete delight to read this Susan. You have a wonderful way of words and how to deliver them. Lots to learn in this. Being such an outspoken person it sat me back a bit. I need that occasionally!