Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN

Mary Della Herndon

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).

This People of Action, issued circa 1969, reproduced newspaper clippings about people in Decatur County. Most items probably were written in the mid 1960s. Most, but not all, of the items were written by Lillye Younger herself and most, but not all, appeared in the Jackson Sun. The photographs, which in the book were poorly reproduced from clippings, have not been scanned.

Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make these web pages.

Thanks to www.tnyesterday.com for contributing this transcription.

By Lillye Younger, Sun Correspondent

Old-Time Cures Limited, But 'Worked'

PARSONS, Tenn.—What's an old-time remedy for earache?

Well, you take some kerosene and pour it in your ear.

That's what happened to Mrs. Mary Della Herndon, 83, of Parsons, hack when she was a schoolgirl in the Bear Creek Community.

"I had a dreadful earache at school and went to a neighbor's house during recess to get some medicine," Mrs. Herndon relates.

"The aged neighbor poured kerosene in my ear and when I returned to school my teacher was horrified. However, I suffered no ill effects. It stopped the earache."

"Medicine was limited in those days," she says.

"About the only treatment the doctors offered was blue mass and calomel. In the spring we always drank sassafras tea. It worked too. We had good health."

Mrs. Herndon relates an incident in her earl life when she almost had to go to a doctor but lucky found it wasn't necessary.

"One morning I awoke and discovered I had lost my partial plate. Immediately I felt pains in my stomach and my husband and I searched frantically for the missing denture, but to no avail.

"I knew then that I had swallowed them and the pains began to get worse. The children woke up and asked me what I would do. I told them I would have to go to the hospital and have the plate removed by surgery.

"Then my little boy looked up and said 'Momma, what is that in your hair?' I felt on my head and found the denture stuck in my hair. Immediately the pain left.

"The joke became known all up and down the N. C. and St. L. Railroad. One day when I was boarding a train, a man I didn't know who was helping me aboard said, 'Are you Mrs. Herndon, the one who swallowed her teeth?'

Mrs. Herndon reports that her health, notwithstanding the kerosene treatment for earache, is fine and she is "enjoying it while it lasts."

"I had never been in a hospital until last October, when I underwent surgery," she said.

Mrs. Herndon remembers the early days of her life in Bear Creek and Parsons.

"The only recreation we had when I was a girl was square dancing. Our whole family would go and we would dance all night.

"We did most of our courting at the square dances. I had several beaus. One was S. L. Herndon, a neighbor boy who always served as chaperone to the group. He was two years older than I.

"Our courtship grew into a real romance and we married in 1903. He was an engineer on the railroad and a master mechanic at the roundhouse at Hollow Rock junction," she said.

Mrs. Herndon has four children. Ray Herndon lives in Paducah and works for an insurance company. Houston Herndon is owner of food processing and storage plants in Humboldt, and a daughter, Mrs. Mary Nethery, also lives in Humboldt. Another son, Joe Ted Herndon, is superintendent of schools at Bruceton, Tenn.

Mrs. Herndon's husband died in 1950, and since that time she has made her home with her children. "I spend my summers with the Houston clan in Parsons," she said.

Mrs. Herndon thinks the world situation has taken a turn for the better in the last six months.

"Our young people today are more enlightened and doing good work in religion. They are getting better educations than were available in my day.

"It seems to me a light is shining through," Mrs. Rerndon says.

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