Transcribed by Timothy R. Meador, Jr.
May 19, 1949 – Reprinted October 6, 1977
* CAL’S COLUMN *
We closed our last article with a promise to write again. We have had numerous requests for a continuation of our ramblings back along the path of memory. One of the earliest towns or villages we ever visited was Pleasant Shade. The writer was born about three miles west of that place; and as a barefoot boy, walked across Mace’s Hills, down Toetown Branch, across Porter’s Hill into the Cross Roads itself. We were very bashful as a boy, a thing that many readers might not believe; but it is true nevertheless. When we went into the store, we would never call for what was wanted, but stood quiet, which is another thing hard to believe, until we were asked by the merchant what we wanted. We recall many, many times visiting the stores at that place. Bob Cleveland was the merchant with whom our father did most of his trading. In his large store we saw our first checkerboard about 50 years ago. We saw also our first Panama hat and still recall an event connected with that hat, which was on display in the Cleveland store. Dr. C. W. Herod, a frequent visitor and checker player in Cleveland’s Store, said in our presence, “Bob, what is the price of that Panama hat?” The merchant replied “$4.00.” Dr. Herod came back with, “That is too rich for my blood,” which was the first time we recall having ever heard that expression. Four dollars then meant as much as $20 today. Here at Cleveland’s store was a large stock of general merchandise of almost every sort and kind, including medicines, farming implement, dry goods, shoes, notions, groceries, furniture and a hundred other items. As a child we found within us a desire to be a merchant and this lasted until young manhood when we decided to become a teacher. It took a lot of capital to become a merchant who could “carry farmers and others” over from one tobacco selling time to another, and we did not have the capital.
Dr. Herod, whose name is above given, was a physician in the Pleasant Shade section for many years. He delighted in relating events of his early life and in his early practice of medicine. One of these recalled after more than 40 years is as follows. Soon after Dr. Herod had taken up the practice of medicine, a blacksmith in the community came to his home and wanted a prescription for some sort of complaint. When Dr. Herod had written the prescription the blacksmith asked, “What is the charge?” Dr. Herod replied, “$5.00. I am not charging you for the work but for knowing how.” The blacksmith who was one of the best that section ever had did not offer a word in reply or protest, but paid the charge. Dr. Herod then did all his visiting the sick on horseback. He stated that he was particular to see that his horse was well shod when he had occasion to be in the vicinity of the blacksmith’s shop or home, lest he be forced to call on the blacksmith to shoe his horse. Finally, one day years after the prescription was written and for which he received a fee of $5.00, Dr. Herod’s horse lost a shoe not far from the blacksmith’s place of business, the animal growing lame within a matter of minutes after the loss of the shoe. Seeing that his horse could not very well make the trip back to Pleasant Shade, the physician was forced to stop at the shop of the man who had paid $5.00 for a prescription. The blacksmith set to work and in a short time, had the shoe replaced. Then the doctor said, “What is the charge?” The brawny blacksmith replied, “$5.00. I am not charging you for the work, but for knowing how.” Dr. Herod paid the charge and for years got a great kick out of telling how his high charge had backfired.
Another event in Dr. Herod’s life that we heard him relate concerned an advertisement in a paper, which stated “Send me $5.00 and I will send you an unfailing and guaranteed remedy for keeping skippers out of hams.” The skipper remedy man lived in Texas and this was before the day when the law prevented unfair advertising and trickery and fraud in advertising or in using the mails. Within a short time Dr. Herod received the prescription which was guaranteed to keep skippers out of meat and it was as follow: “Eat your hams before skipper time.” Dr. Herod in relating this years after it happened stated, “It made me so doggone mad that I thought at first that I would go to Texas and whip the man.” Perhaps few of our readers are aware of the crookedness and fraud practiced in those early days before the law prohibited such practices.
Dr. Herod was a great talker and we delighted as a small to listen in on his conversation with other men. We did not ask him any questions then, but we listened and kept in mind many of his tales. We recall others one of which was about a lady whose horse ran away with her. Dr. Herod told how this lady was riding her horse, which became frightened and threw the rider whose foot became caught in the stirrup of the side saddle common in those days. With the rider being dragged along the ground to almost certain death and Dr. Herod not being close enough to stop the plunging and frightened horse and the woman being helpless to relieve herself. Dr. Herod said he drew out his pistol and shot the stirrup leather in twain, the bullet cutting the leather just about the stirrup, and releasing the woman from certain death. The bullet let from the doctor’s gun did not injure the runaway horse or its unfortunate rider, who escaped with only minor bruises and scratches. Of course we did not see this, but we did not question the doctor’s story. We stood perhaps with our mouth open as we heard him relate so vividly the account of his ability with a pistol and his saving of the woman’s life. Another story Dr. Herod used to tell was one that he said occurred at Rocky Creek, a few miles below Hartsville when he was coming home from medical school riding a good horse not long after the close of the Civil War. He stated that as help approached this small creek from the west. A tramp rose up in the darkness with a large pistol in his hand, demanding that the young man dismount and give over his horse to the tramp. Dr. Herod said that he suddenly reached down, yanked the gun from the hand of his assailant, turned the gun on the tramp, shot him down and left him lying in the road or pike, as it was called many years ago. We never pass along the highway at this spot without our mind running back to the doctor’s story.
Other merchants at Pleasant Shade in our childhood were: Sanderson and Parkhurst, who had a large store just below the saw and planning mill that Williams Brothers once owned and operated. This was also a very large general store and we often visited it. Another was the store operated by Mann Sloan, located across the creek near his home, at the southwest corner of the village. We knew this man far many years. Later he erected a large store in “town” and this building, with a number of additions, is known today as Sloan Brothers and Company. William McDuffee also sold goods for a number of years in Pleasant Shade. I. P. McDonald was a merchant in Pleasant Shade for many years, and retired only a comparatively few years before his death. H. Campbell Jenkins was also for many years a popular merchant of that place. Charlie Alexander, Piper and Sutton, B. J. Massey. L. B. Thomas, Jenkins and Wilmore, and perhaps others have sold goods in Pleasant Shade within comparatively recent years.
We recall another episode that took place down the creek from Pleasant Shade many, many years ago. Bud Alexander, who was born in Lafayette, sustained a very bad leg fracture many years ago and was disabled by his happening for months. During this time, he began to read books on medicine, etc., the result being that he decided to become a physician. After recovering sufficiently to leave home, he went away to medical school and remained until he was able to pass the tests then required of doctors. Shortly afterward, he began the practice of medicine. Among those who lived then on Peyton’s Creek was Ned Matthews, an unusual character and a man with one of the finest memories it has ever been our pleasure to know. He also was a man who had a wonderful flow of language, even though his English was often at fault. Possessed with a fine memory, he was able to sing perhaps hundreds of songs without a book. We have heard him sing for hours at a time, relying solely on his memory for the words of the songs. Shortly after Dr. Alexander began the practice of medicine, he passed by the home of Uncle Ned, who was rather sceptical about the new doctor’s knowledge of medicine. Ned, speaking to his wife, said, “There goes Bud Alexander with his saddle bags. He thinks he is a doctor, but I know as much about medicine as he does.” His wife chided her husband somewhat for his attitude toward Dr. Alexander saying, “Maybe he does know something of medicine.” Ned said “I’ll prove to you that he doesn’t know anything about medicine. I am going to go to bed and when he comes back this way on his return trip. I want you to call him in and let him treat me.” So when Ned had removed his clothing and gone to bed and the new doctor was passing on his return trip, Mrs. Matthews said, “Doctor, I want you to come in and see Ned. He’s taking on something awful and seems to be very sick.” The physician dismounted from his horse, which he hitched, removed his saddle bags from the saddle and went into the home of the “alleged sufferer” or sick man. Alexander was a man with a strong natural mind, possessed of a lot of good horse sense, and a fine knowledge of human nature. He soon discovered that Ned was “possuming on his and that there was not one thing wrong with the pretended sick man who was groaning and grunting and putting up the front of a very sick man. He decided it was a good time to teach a man a lesson who was trying to throw off on the doctor. So he fixed up two or three doses of medicine and poured them down his “patient.” As he was leaving, Mrs. Matthews followed the doctor outside, as have thousands of good wives, and said, “Doctor, do you think Ned is very sick?” The gruff doctor replied, “No, by G.., but he soon will be.” Uncle Ned and Dr. Alexander have both long since crossed the silent river. Let us hope that they are resting together under the shade of the trees that line the River of Life.
Dr. J. B. Beasley is the hard working and beloved physician of the people of Pleasant Shade at this time, and has been for many, many years. He is our second cousin and we have always esteemed him highly. He has gone into thousands of homes in the past without money and without price, ministering to the needs of his people to the best of his ability. He is a man also of strong native ability. We once asked him what the most objectionable feature of his work as a physician was. We asked him if it was the long hours involved, the loss of so much sleep, the irregular eating and sleeping hours, his having to be in the presence of so much suffering and sorrow and trouble, or just what was the worst feature of his work. We were rather surprised when he replied, “Neither of them is. The worst part is the lack of appreciation.” Perhaps all who have dealt with the public and have given the best years of their lives to their fellow man can say the same thing. Ingratitude is one of the most common faults of the people at large today. The sad part is that it could be corrected so easily, but so few ever thank their family doctor, or minister, or the public servant. When these men, who gave their lives for others, lie cold in death, perhaps then and only then, will they be really and truly appreciated. Reader, why not give your thanks, gratitude and appreciation to your benefactors while they live? After they have worn out their lives for you, and death has removed them from the scenes of this life, they will not be able to hear your words of commendation and praise and appreciation. Do this for them while they live.